Christiane Shrimpton is an associate medical director at NHS Dumfries and Galloway. In her blog, Christiane explains how the Nye Bevan programme has helped her to become a more reflective, resilient and stronger leader for the benefit of her colleagues, patients and their families.
I started the Nye Bevan programme in October 2016 after a somewhat unconventional career. I studied medicine in Germany before coming to the UK to do my house jobs. I then began my training as an ophthalmologist at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee. Over the following years I worked in both the UK and Germany, becoming an associate specialist before gaining my specialist registration and taking up a consultant post in 2011 at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust. Throughout my time in Morecambe Bay I’ve been looking for additional opportunities both in gaining qualifications and taking up various leadership roles. As part of this I came across the development programmes the Leadership Academy offers. The Nye Bevan programme really appealed to me as it included people from a wide range of professional backgrounds and offered a very reflective and feedback based approach to development. I was looking to move into a more senior leadership position at that stage and felt it would give me a good preparation for that.
The Nye Bevan programme helped me to analyse and reflect on my reactions to certain situations, helping me to choose my responses more consciously. I’ve found that by listening to and observing others more, I can better understand their viewpoints and how the situation feels for them. I’m more mindful, taking into account the interactions I have with my colleagues, patients and their families. I’m less likely to put myself under pressure and am able to react to situations more flexibly. I feel that this has made me a more effective colleague and patient advocate.
Following the completion of the Nye Bevan programme, I successfully applied for a more senior leadership role in the NHS, as associate medical director at NHS Dumfries and Galloway. The learning from the programme was an important factor in this as it improved my confidence and helped me find better ways of working with the senior team. In my current role, I work with several departments and teams and I’m also in a position to receive direct feedback from patients, working with them and their families to improve the care we provide.
Participating in the Nye Bevan programme has been a journey of self-discovery. It was unlike anything else I had ever experienced before. It was focused on me as a person and on the impact I have on others. “What is it like to be on the receiving end of me?” was not a question I had ever asked myself before! I had always been a reflective person, but this programme took that to a completely new level. With support from my learning set facilitator and other participants,I was able to explore what made me the person I am. The depth and breadth of that exploration was challenging at times but it helped me to develop as an individual. Receiving detailed feedback from a wide range of people from different backgrounds was invaluable.
At times I found it difficult to cope with the intensity of experiences and the emotions raised on the programme but being able to work through that has increased my confidence. What I enjoyed most was the feeling of achievement at the end of the programme, the knowledge that I’m now a more resilient and stronger person who is much more in tune with the people around me. I’m certain the answer to the question ‘What is it like to be on the receiving end of me?’ would be different now to what it was before the programme. People now see me as more able to cope with pressured situations and uncertainty and as a result experience me as more approachable and supportive of them. They also know I will be holding them to account in a consistent and fair way.
My tips for the future generation of NHS leaders would be:
- Show compassion to patients, their families and the people you are working with
- In the increasingly fast pace and complexity that is so integral to healthcare today, we all need to work much more closely with others. An individual ‘heroic’ leader is just not tenable now
- Networking and good listening skills are important
- There are so many opportunities out there for people to get involved in sharing and learning and we should make the most out of these
- Become part of a peer support network and continue to make the most of your personal as well as your professional development
- Get involved in shaping the future NHS you want to see
Find out more about the Nye Bevan programme.