To mark International Women's Day, student writer Bronwyn interviews the women who have inspired her to succeed in her career in nursing
In recognition of International Women’s Day, I interviewed a few women that have inspired me during my journey to becoming a qualified nurse. Sharing their thoughts on women in nursing are MDX’s very own Jan Williams (Pro Vice Chancellor and Dean of Health and Education), Carmel Clancy (Head of Department -Mental Health, Social Work & IPL), Dani Collins (Director of Programmes- Mental Health Nursing) and a visiting nurse to MDX Sarah Burke (Community Psychiatric Nurse based in Preston).
These women have lead diverse and exciting careers, becoming hugely successful through their dedication and passion for their work. They have proven to be strong, inspiring role models to the ambitious nurses of today.
To these ladies and all the ladies, I have not had the opportunity to mention, I would like to thank you for your commitment and your contribution to paving the way for future generations of women seeking opportunities to grow.
I asked these ladies a series of questions and received some insightful responses, which I have summarised below:
1. What challenges and trade-offs have you faced to achieve your current position?
Carmel Clancy and Sarah Burke
Carmel and Sarah agree that for them there was no trade-off per-say, but ultimately, they had to make some personal decisions in terms of a family versus career, which many women still face today. But they don’t see them as a trade-off in a negative way, simply choices they needed to make. They also welcomed challenges as an opportunity and reflected on the diverse national and international opportunities their nursing careers have offered them.
Jan reflects that, although her career has come with demanding time, responsibility and accountability commitments, a strong family support network has enabled her success in both her professional and family life.
Dani urges all nurses to embrace the challenges, enjoy the experience, strive to expand our knowledge and be brave enough to challenge the ‘norms’, which will lead the way to improved holistic nursing care. However, she does highlight the need to know our own limitations and boundaries because if we don’t look after ourselves, how will we look after others.
2. Has it been worth it?
All of the ladies I interviewed resoundingly agree that pursuing a career in nursing, in spite of all the challenges and barriers, has been hugely rewarding. They encourage anyone interested in a profession focused on healing, growth and diversity to embrace this noble and proud profession.
3. What advice would you impart to a woman aspiring to become a nurse today?
Carmel Clancy and Sarah Burke
Carmel and Sarah unanimously agree. Enjoy it! Do it! It’s a good career with lots of scope and flexibility and urge us not to clip our own wings going into the profession because we can be whoever we want to be as a nurse.
Jan explains that we should be prepared to work hard, to stand up for what we think is right and not be afraid to speak out. Equally, we need to enjoy what we do as this will help us to do it well. She also suggests that we should actively look for opportunities and make the most of them. Recognising that, although frightening at times, we should not be afraid to take a risk, as challenges are good. Ultimately, we need to believe in ourselves and those we work with.
Dani suggests that we should build our professional networks because our peers are the people that will be supporting us in our professional career and it is our peers that will help to nurture us, both as a nurse and as a human being. She goes on to explain that, nursing has been a hugely rewarding career because it challenges you personally and professionally and it will offer you endless and exciting opportunities to grow.
I cannot help but feel that we at MDX are truly fortunate to have such dedicated, knowledgeable and inspiring women supporting us through our nursing degree. To these ladies and all the ladies, I have not had the opportunity to mention, I would like to thank you for your commitment and your contribution to paving the way for future generations of women seeking opportunities to grow.
Below are some programmes dedicated to supporting women that have the drive and determination to climb their career ladder.
NHS Leadership Academy - The London Women Leadership network
The Athena Programme
Aurora - women-only leadership development programme in Higher Education
Athena SWAN (for teams)