I remember a short while after I qualified as a midwife, when the sister in charge came to me and said: “Anne, could I speak with you in my office for a moment please?
“I just wanted to talk to you about acting up in my role for six weeks, starting next week, when I go overseas. Judy was going to do it, but since her Mum got sick she’s not able to…”
I remember the fear that I felt when I got this news. I was not concerned about my midwifery skills – I was part of a large team and there were colleagues to speak with about any significant issues.
My concern was that I knew I did not have sufficient management skills because I had undertaken little if any management training.
I had certainly never run a clinical area for any significant period of time. How was I going to manage team members that we all knew were “difficult”, communicate with confidence with the senior midwifery and medical staff, and be the “leader” – not really knowing what that meant?!
Think back to the very first time you were in a management or supervisory role as a registered nurse or midwife.
- Was this a planned event? Or, was it because someone was away sick and you had to step into the role quickly?
- Why were you the person who was assigned to take on the management role? What was the decision based on?
- Was it your clinical skills and expertise? Was it because of the length of time you had worked in that clinical area?
- What preparation did you have to take on the responsibilities associated with being the manager as well as the leader?
Think about the challenges or difficulties you experienced
Your Personal and Interpersonal Skills
Do you remember that sudden awareness that being in those supervisory roles requires you to be able to foster professional relationships with diverse work colleagues – those in administration, clinical and support positions?
And thinking back:
- How aware were you of the impact of your own emotions on others in your workplace?
- How skilled were you at communicating with influence, participating in meetings and delivering presentations?
- Were you able to exercise discretion and judgement, and did you use a range of problem-solving and decision-making strategies?
Your People Management Skills
What about leading your team? What skills did you possess to establish and build a positive culture?
How did you go about managing the performance of individuals who were not practising to the expected standard? How did that first difficult conversation go?
I’m sure you will agree that in some ways it is easier to manage the nurse who has made a medication error than the nurse with the poor attitude. When clinical errors occur – there are clear protocols to follow. But what about the nurse who consistently comes to work late or takes long coffee breaks? Her clinical skills may be faultless, but her professional behaviour does not meet the standard we expect.
How did you learn to manage that situation? Do you still find it difficult?
Your Operational Skills
Think back to the operational aspects of the role and the skills required to manage the ward or clinical area.
What was your reaction the first time someone said the following words to you and expected you to know what they were talking about?
Phrases such as:
- Contribute to the achievement of organisational goals
- Manage the budget… or… read financial statements
- Continuous improvement
- Risk management.
Most of us “survived” those early days without any specific training or education on “how to be a good leader or manager”. If we were fortunate to have a positive role model then we learned to draw from their behaviour and develop similar skills and receive their coaching and mentoring along the way.
Consider these questions:
Has much changed to support our nurses and midwives taking on management roles? How good are we at succession planning?
What skills and tools are we providing to help them navigate the challenges they will face as new managers and leaders?
CPD and nursing and midwifery leaders and managers?
These questions bring me to the topic of continuing professional development or CPD. In particular, thinking about how well our choices in CPD prepare the current and future nursing and midwifery leaders and managers?
We identified that individuals are often internally promoted to management roles based on their technical skills, knowledge and experience rather than specific leadership and management abilities.
Recognising this gap, we have designed a Diploma of Leadership and Management (BSB51918):
• to address needs of current and potential managers
• as workplace based, professional development.
The units have been selected and clustered to best match the characteristics of the health sector and are based on industry consultation and health service organisation needs.
These questions posed above are in fact the three clusters of study which make up the Diploma.
It has been tailored to those working in the health sector and been designed by health practitioners who have held senior leadership and management roles.
It allows participants to draw from their own experience in their particular workplace. All assessments are based on the participant’s ability to apply knowledge and understanding to their own workplace and job role.
Delivery methods include:
- Face to face workshops
- Workbook provided content
- Online sessions
- Workplace learning, assessment and mentoring sessions
- Self-directed study, research and reflection.
This enables senior management to use this program as a means of staff performance development and recruitment.
This program provides participants with the opportunity to develop the specific tools and skills to become an effective leader and manager in today’s health sector.
Feedback from those who have completed the program has been extremely positive, highlighting the benefits of its practical focus.
Our vision is that the nursing and midwifery leaders and managers of the future will be well prepared and skilled, and:
- embrace what it means to be a registered nurse or registered midwife
- own their professional practice framework,
- embody what it means to be a leader and manager in the health sector.
Anne Morrison, CEO, Carramar Education
For more information on the BSB51918 – Diploma in Leadership and Management, visit our website or give us a call on (07) 3832 7727.
Carramar Education is a Nationally Recognised Training Provider (RTO Code 32225) with approval from the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) to deliver the BSB51918 – Diploma in Leadership and Management.