We designed the National Ward Managers for nurses in Mental Health 15 years ago. The need was identified for a programme to build the confidence and leadership capability of nurses moving from being full time nurses, to become line managers of nurses, coordinating allied clinical disciplines, budget management… The challenge was classic in that experts in most sectors have to leave or significantly reduce the time spent reliant on their expertise to progress their careers, often becoming managers overnight with no training. The shift is highly stressful because as individuals they no longer feel that they are the best clinician and they know they are the least experienced managers. This is topped with the pressure of being a top middle manager which requires the behavioural skill to manage effectively in all directions.
We designed a modular programme which included building management skills, strategic leadership capability, financial acumen, team management, understanding power, branding, personal impact and tough conversations. The programme was supported by Senior clinicians across the NHS and at DoH. Many of the alumnae have gone on to be successful in their roles some becoming Directors of Nursing. In more recent years the realisation that it is not only nurses experiencing this type of transition led to the programme being opened to other professions and a new programme to support the transition to Deputy Director or Director level.