PhD student Work study life balance

Nurse researchers: leading change & adding value.

The future belongs to those who prepare for it today. As futurist and philosopher Alvin Toffler once wrote: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Times are changing and we must change in response to the changes. Let’s learn, unlearn and relearn.

In healthcare settings, we rightly place quite a lot of emphasis on valuing evidence based care models. The evidence gathered influences the priorities of the commissioners and providers of healthcare and so when inevitably there is ‘new evidence’, the strategies and policies change. The future healthcare leader needs to be resilient and adopt a systems approach to leading. They will need to be knowledgeable, experienced and confident in working in the increasingly dynamic healthcare system that includes the development of clinical networks across organisations and the sector, the Sustainable Transformational Plans (STPs) that are maximising both the efficiency and effectiveness of a healthcare system that continues to evolve. This evolution is not taking place in isolation, in my view it is in response to the diversity and complexity of the health and social care needs of the diverse population that we must care for.

To meet the needs of the future, there is therefore an identified need for visible, credible, transformational nurse leaders who not only have the capability but also the capacity and resilience to confidently and successfully lead and conduct research. Transformational leadership is required if we are to be innovative in the redesign of health care services and care pathways using research-based activity including audit, service evaluation and other quality improvement programmes. The time is now to build this capability and capacity by ensuring there is a generation of research trained leaders to drive this forward and build the resilience that is needed. Research training fosters and facilitates an enquiring mind which is paramount to inspiring and empowering others which in turn builds the resilience that is much needed in the system. The time to act is now. Let’s learn, unlearn and relearn.

Let’s support those who aspire to lead research. Let’s encourage our frontline staff to do the same. They have the answers if only they were given the opportunity. Let’s consciously place greater value on the contributions of nurse researchers in the varying roles that we play in the health care system. Whatever happened to clinical academic careers? If they’re not in an organisation’s strategic objectives, there is no hope for them in practice. There’s a missed opportunity to capitalise on the skill set of a minority of nurses who have the ability to lead research activities in practice that hold relevance to today’s practitioners.

Let’s do more today in preparation for tomorrow by building the resilience now. Let’s learn to value the contribution of nurse researchers, unlearn the preconceived ideas of what we do and relearn that tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. Let’s choose knowledge.

More to come in future posts as I delve more deeply into my experiences as a nurse researcher and share more of my journey of leading change and adding value to patients and staff.

Photo credit:

By Nichole McIntosh FRSA

I am a Jamaican-born British nurse, poet, blogger:, vlogger, podcaster, motivational speaker, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Editorial Advisor of the Royal College of Nursing Institute’s Nursing Management Journal.

I am also the Founder and Director of Maroon Mindset Unlimited Ltd, a consultancy company that works with the NHS and other systems to learn, think and behave differently.

Follow me on Twitter: @McIntoshNichole
Instagram: @tyrese876 or @maroon.mindset
Facebook Page: @NicholeMcIntoshFRSA
LinkedIn: Maroon Mindset

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