8th February 2021

Guest blog: experiences on the Healthcare Leadership Academy

Guest blog by Kieran Robinson

I learned about the Healthcare Leadership Academy (HLA) through a newsletter sent out by the College of Paramedics. It seemed like a good opportunity to develop my leadership skills and build on my previous experiences, so I went for it, and the next thing I knew I was at the first session in London.

I discovered that I was the only Paramedic in the program and with some further probing learned that I was the first Paramedic to join the HLA. It’s been an honour to represent my profession in a new and unfamiliar environment, and I would love to increase our representation and that of other AHP’s within the organisation. Leadership is increasingly important in our work in whatever role we are in.

Throughout the year I developed several key skills, improving my leadership skills as well as improving my career prospects and becoming a Fellow (level 7) of the Institute of Leadership and Management. The real benefit, however, is the HLA community. It’s amazing being around people who are all so inspirational and aspirational – it really motivates you to do great things and gives you the network and connections to help you do so.

I enjoyed my time so much that I applied for the position of Cohort Director and have been leading my own cohort of scholars this year. As with all things, Covid-19 has altered how we deliver the program, and we have been able to facilitate some brilliant online learning and networking sessions. I am however looking forward to getting back to some contact days, meeting the scholars, and having some social events alongside the year’s learning!

I would strongly encourage any AHPs to consider applying, and feel free to reach out on Twitter or LinkedIn for more information.

Kieran Robinson BSc FInstLM MCPara, Senior Paramedic & Practice Educator with East of England Ambulance Service, Associate Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University, HLA Scholar 2019-20, HLA Cohort Director, MSc Critical Care Student at University of Edinburgh


12th May 2020

COVID19 and the Year of the Nurse and Midwife

By Brian Webster, student nurse, University of Dundee

COVID19 has very few positives but at least, thanks to COVID19, healthcare professionals and nurses, in particular, are being recognised, appreciated, and commended for their professionalism, commitment and determination.

Due to COVID19, the wider public are now hearing more from the World Health Organisation (WHO), with some perhaps never even hearing of the WHO before now. The WHO declared 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. We celebrated International Day of the Midwife on the 5 May this year and the 12 May marks International Nurses Day which the International Council of Nurses has themed on Nursing the World to Health. This date this year is also 200 years since the birth of Florence Nightingale.

With increased publicity for nursing, there is the hope for a greater interest in people wanting to be nurses and deciding to apply to study. There are shortages of nurses across the UK as well as internationally with the WHO estimating 9 million more nurses and midwives are needed by 2030. Nursing also has a comparatively low numbers of male professionals, explained by a number of reasons, including the historical perceptions of the role. The narrative language the pandemic has brought, for instance “heroes”, “fighting” and “battling”, may attract and spark interest in a wider pool of people who would consider a career in healthcare.

It is, however, important to remember that you should thoroughly research a career in nursing and the roles you would be expected to undertake. According to NHS Scotland careers, some of these roles you would undertake as a nurse include:

  • carrying out physical examinations and clinical assessments
  • monitoring patients and recording their clinical condition
  • giving medications and injections
  • responding quickly to emergencies
  • acting as an advocate for patients and their families

Nursing is an excellent career for people from all walks of life. The four main disciplines in the UK are adult, child, mental health and learning disability but these four are only the beginning and each four have many sub-specialities within them. My field is adult nursing, and within that there are so many options, including but not limited to:

  • district nursing
  • general practice nursing
  • rehabilitation nursing
  • older people’s nursing
  • accident and emergency nursing
  • intensive care nursing
  • theatre nursing
  • cancer and palliative care nursing
  • community staff nursing
  • occupational health nursing

Nurses are now more than ever, being recognised for their contribution to healthcare and things have certainly moved on since the era of Florence Nightingale. The new Nursing and Midwifery Council standards for nurses and nursing students have been recently updated to reflect patient need and the ability and skill of nurses. An excellent example of this was reported by Nursing Standard, where a nurse was appointed and recognised as having the same level of autonomy as a consultant doctor.

I hope you will celebrate and support International Nurse’s Day 2020 and might consider a career in nursing – a rewarding, lifelong career with endless possibilities.


25th October 2019

Reflections: Zoe visits the Royal College of Nursing HQ

Zoe, student children’s nurse at Middlesex University, shares her coaching experience on the Programme and her visit to the Royal College of Nursing headquarters.

I’ve had over a ten-year hiatus from the corporate world, having spent the interim period chairing the school’s Parents Association, working with various charities, keeping busy in between bringing up the children, I worked around my own schedule. Today, I walked back into the corporate world, for one day, to shadow the Director of Policy and Practice for the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and I felt that pull towards the work life I loved but left.

This is not to say that I don’t love what I am doing now, I am coming to the end of my second year as a Child Nursing Student and I have loved every single moment so far. I have jumped at every opportunity that has come my way that is to do with nursing so that I can continue learning contribute to the future of Nurses not just within the University, but on a local and national level.

I met Bronagh Scott through the Council of Deans Student Leadership Programme. Bronagh invited me to the RCN to shadow her and attend meetings. I didn’t know what to expect, how the RCN were involved in policy and to what extent they had influence within Governmental politics. Today gave me a window into how influential the RCN are and the processes they go through for policies to be written, the foundation work that happens for the policies to start as a project, data collecting, analysing, ensuring there is evidence to endorse the policy. I also gained an understanding at the speed that the policy team need to work at to keep in line with the constant barrage of media around nurses and the NHS which is constantly moving with the ever-changing political climate.

I couldn’t keep up with everything that happened in the meeting, the pace at which topics were questioned, discussed, picked up or set aside was fast, I wanted to be able to understand more, I wanted to be able to contribute and then I realised, that to just sit and listen would be beneficial. I’ll be more savvy next time I read a policy, I’ll find time to delve more into what the RCN are working on to better the future of the UK and international nurses.

The people I spent time with made me feel welcome, explaining the role of their department, I felt they were a close team, listened to each other, questioned what they didn’t understand and knew they were in a safe space to ask and share anything. The people I met today are not all nurses, but working behind the scenes for nurses, their team work ethic would be one to replicate on the wards, or in the community teams. I’d like to take the SNAP session that the team carry out at the end of their meeting and introduce it to my student nursing cohort, it would be a great way to lift spirits and show appreciation for each other.

I can envision a part of my future involved in supporting the future of nurses, in what capacity however, I don’t yet know, but being with the RCN today has helped me see that there are so many ways to be involved in leading the change.

11th February 2019

Reflections: Council of Deans of Health – Annual Conference

By Alison Booker

Over the last year, I have been participating in a Student Leadership Programme. As a result of my engagement in the programme I was invited to speak at the Council of Deans of Health’s Annual Conference, held at the British Medical Association in London.

The organisers from the Council of Deans invited me to speak on a panel alongside a fellow healthcare student on the programme and we would be contributing to discussions held by the Chief Allied Healthcare Officer for NHS England; Suzanne Rastrick, and Professor Alistair Fitt, Chair of the Office for Students strategic interventions in health education disciplines (SIHED). It’s the Council’s most high-profile event and so the invitation to speak was an immense honour. The subject of the panel focused on, ‘Supporting vulnerability in Allied Health professions workforce,’ and the council sent me an outline of key topics we should cover.

I began drafting out my ideas and points for discussion, which was a challenge because the topic and the audience was at a level new to me; exploring policy and strategy within recruitment and retention which transcended across educational and governmental levels. I decided to present my ideas on a poster, and began creating a visual representation of the allied healthcare professions inspired by the AHPs into action policy. I then communicated with my student colleagues from my cohort and set up a small forum to generate some additional ideas. Once complete I subsequently arranged a conference call with Sarah Bradder – a student therapeutic radiographer from Sheffield Hallam University, who would be presenting with me and representing student AHPs. We discussed our initial ideas and agreed on our topics of presentation to ensure we complimented one another without duplication.

Event Photos: On the panel, presenting my poster and answering questions from the floor.

On Tuesday 22nd January 2019 I travelled to London where I attended the event. Over 100 delegates, University Deans and leaders in healthcare & academia were in attendance and presentations centred on the future of healthcare education and leadership. I sat on the ‘Supporting vulnerability in Allied Healthcare Professions Workforce,’ panel that afternoon and contributed to discussions on the future of Allied Healthcare Education, recruitment and retention. I never envisaged, when I embarked on a new career within healthcare, that I could be pursuing opportunities to get involved in discussions at this level, but thanks to the Council of Deans of Health I was honoured to be in attendance and share my thoughts and experiences as a Student Dietitian. Thanks to my collaboration with Sarah I felt well prepared and, although a little nervous, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride. I am passionate about promoting my future profession and the conference served as an empowering platform to do so. The experience of speaking on a panel was different to my experiences of preparing a presentation because here the audience was able to direct the discussion via questions on the mic and an online forum, which Dr Katerina Kolyva; our presenter on the panel would relay. This meant there was a lot more thinking on my feet, testing my ability to adapt and respond appropriately; a new experience, but no doubt invaluable in my professional and personal development as a future healthcare professional.

At the close of the event was a networking drinks reception. It was here I met the Dean for my school at Leeds Beckett University and we were able to discuss potential future projects. What was so humbling was how delegates also seemed keen to speak with me. Feedback such as “you owned it,” and wanting to let me know how well they thought I had done was a real confidence boost. I exchanged details with a Dean from London South Bank University who has invited me to be a guest speaker at an upcoming professional development event and I also received a business card from a healthcare Dean at Manchester Metropolitan University, with potential to input on their new nutrition course. It was so great to hear from different people at the drinks reception about how they thought I did; a professor from Exeter University advised me to consider PhD, something I have recently considered as a long-term academic goal. The entire event has undoubtedly boosted my confidence and has potentially opened doors to new opportunities. I am eternally grateful for everyone at the Council of Deans of Health for the ever-growing opportunities.

20th December 2018

Publication Launch and Awards – find out who won!

The Student Leadership Programme also celebrated the achievements of its #150Leaders. In front of an audience of students, Council of Deans of Health members, mentors from the programme and stakeholders from the sector, awards were presented in eight categories. Speaking after the event, Professor Nigel Harrison, the Council’s Executive Member – Education Impact and Chair of the Student Leadership Programme Advisory Group, said:

“I feel very fortunate to have been involved with the programme from the start and to have seen the students develop and demonstrate outstanding leadership skills so early in their careers. This programme is a testament to what can be achieved by working collaboratively with students as co-creators of their own learning. Today has been about recognising not just the achievements of the winners but of the whole cohort of 150 leaders. I am immensely proud of all the students and look forward to seeing them flourish in their careers. I would also like to recognise the contribution made by the Programme’s Advisory Group and the mentors who generously gave their time to support the students”.

The winners of the awards are as follows:

Best Contribution to Social Media

Hannah Smith, newly qualified nurse, University of Salford and Leanne Patrick, student mental health nurse, University of Stirling

Top #150Leaders Mentoring Partnership

Felicity Allman, student mental health nurse, University of Plymouth and mentor Brendan McCormack, Head of Nursing Division, Queen Margaret University

Outstanding Commitment to Student Affairs

Nichole Yam, student occupational therapist, Leeds Beckett University

Top #150Leaders Social or Digital Innovation

Raluca Vagner, student adult nurse, Oxford Brookes University

Outstanding Contribution to Shared Learning

Pippa Chillman, student mental health nurse, University of Derby

Top #150Leaders Allied Health Professional

Rob Molloy, newly qualified occupational therapist, Brunel University

Top #150Leaders Nurse

Samuel Richards, student mental health nurse, Swansea University

Top #150Leaders Midwife

Mhairi McLellan, student midwife, Robert Gordon University

At the awards ceremony, the Council of Deans of Health launched its new report on student leadership in higher education. Drawing on reflections, recommendations and examples of good practice from the Student Leadership Programme, the publication #150Leaders: Fostering Student Leadership, highlights the importance of teaching leadership as experience as opposed to theory and how students can be motivated to be leaders from the start of their higher education experience. The publication also emphasises the importance of students being co-creators of their learning and educational experience, which was one of the key elements in the creation and delivery of the Programme.

23rd August 2018

Student Leadership Programme Awards

The Student Leadership Programme will be holding the first ever #150Leaders awards afternoon. There will be 8 categories open exclusively to students who have participated in the programme in any cohort. Finalists will be invited to join a joint awards afternoon and publication launch on Thursday 6 December 2018.

How it works

Any #150Leaders student can be nominated for an award (even if the student has recently qualified). Students (or mentoring partnership) can be nominated only by a fellow #150Leaders student, mentor or a university staff member. A student cannot nominate themselves. To nominate a student, please complete the nomination form (see below) for the correct category and email it to student.leadership@cod-health.ac.uk. An individual can nominate up to one student/partnership per category and nominations can also be made for a team of up to three students if appropriate. Any student can be nominated for more than one award.

All submissions will be collated, anonymised and shortlisted by the Council according to the selection criteria noted on the nomination form. The winners will be selected by the Student Leadership Programme Advisory Group, again in accordance to the selection criteria. Finalists will be notified by the end of October.

Award Categories

Best Contribution to Social Media

The #150Leaders have been outstanding on social media from supporting the programme and have led the way in promoting their respective professions and led others to use social media in an appropriate way. This category celebrates the student who has made the best contribution to social media (including blogging).

#150Leaders Mentoring Partnership

This category celebrates positive and successful mentoring partnership from the programme. Entries should demonstrate a two-way working relationship as well as how the mentor has contributed to the mentee’s success as a leader. Mentors are welcome to apply on behalf of themselves and the student.

Outstanding Commitment to Student Affairs

This category is to recognise leaders in the university environment by acknowledging those who have been committed to supporting their peers in some way. Examples may include:

  • Campaigning to improve students’ experiences or rights;
  • Leading a university society
  • Making a meaningful contribution to improving leadership teaching in the curriculum;
  • Acting as an advocate for students to positively influence policy

Top #150Leaders Social or Digital Innovation

This category celebrates an individual who has demonstrated leadership skills and driven innovation and transformation in their communities and/or beyond. The innovation could contribute to improving patient or service user care, improving staff or student wellbeing or improving the effectiveness or efficiency of service delivery.

Outstanding Contribution to Shared Learning

This category is for students who have taken learning from the Student Leadership Programme and has shared with their peers and colleagues, whether at university, contributing to research/media articles, or in clinical practice. This could involve speaking about leadership to fellow students, running a leadership conference or seminar, writing for a journal/publication, mentoring or buddying another student or promoting your profession to others.

Top #150Leaders Nurse

This category celebrates the student nurse who has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills to positively contribute to their profession. Their contribution could be related to innovation, research, peer support, teaching and learning, advocacy or promoting their professions. Nominees may have overcome significant obstacles to be successful or could have inspired their peers by their work. They may have contributed to transformational work that has a positive impact on others.

Top #150Leaders Midwife

This category celebrates the student midwife who has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills to positively contribute to their profession. Their contribution could be related to innovation, research, peer support, teaching and learning, advocacy or promoting their professions. Nominees may have overcome significant obstacles to be successful or could have inspired their peers by their work. They may have contributed to transformational work that has a positive impact on others.

Top #150Leaders Allied Health Professional

This category celebrates the student allied health professional who has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills to positively contribute to their profession. Their contribution could be related to innovation, research, peer support, teaching and learning, advocacy or promoting their professions. Nominees may have overcome significant obstacles to be successful or could have inspired their peers by their work. They may have contributed to transformational work that has a positive impact on others.

How to apply

To apply, please use the relevant form linked below. There is application guidance on the form and you will need to fill in the form and email it to student.leadership@cod-health.ac.uk. The deadline for nominations will be Sunday 7 October. Please note that the forms vary per category.

Best Contribution to Social Media

Top #150Leaders Mentoring Partnership

Outstanding Commitment to Student Affairs

Best Social or Digital Innovation

Outstanding Contribution to Shared Learning

Top #150Leaders Nurse

Top #150Leaders Midwife

Top #150Leaders Allied Health Professional

9th August 2018

Storytelling as a vehicle for leadership – a reflection

One of the most striking characteristics of the #150Leaders group is its diversity. Whilst many of us may be engaged in studying similar academic courses, share career goals and hold common views on our approaches to healthcare, each of us carries our own highly individualised and unique story.

It is these stories and unique pathways that have shaped us, define us and ultimately determine our values, shaping our own leadership journeys. Moreover, our ability to authentically share and convey these stories can be seen as an invaluable tool with which we can connect, engage, influence, persuade or act as an advocate for individuals, groups or causes that resonate with our own story. As such, effective storytelling should be seen as a valuable leadership skill.

On Tuesday 7th August, Dr Katerina Kolyva, Executive Director of the Council of Deans of Health hosted an online discussion covering the topic of ‘Storytelling as a vehicle for leadership’. Prior to the discussion, Katerina had prepared the participants by requesting that we read her own leadership story, (if you’ve not already had the chance, I’d suggest you take a look here). Spanning from Katerina’s childhood to present day, the story gave context and background to Katerina’s journey, her influences, passion for effective leadership, Pan-European outlook and on-going thirst for knowledge.

The ball was set rolling with the opening question covering our own experiences of storytelling, both professional and personal, and the impact that this has had upon us. It was broadly agreed that the opportunity to share our own stories with fellow delegates and also hear the stories of the visiting speakers at the various #150Leaders events had proved invaluable as not only an icebreaker, but as a method of reflection, a means to identify and connect with like-minded colleagues within the broader group and to advocate for our own chosen field of study. The importance of authenticity was also raised, as it was agreed that dishonesty or falsehood in storytelling could lead to manipulation.

The topic then moved on to providing examples of how we have used storytelling to influence a debate, when presenting, leading or participating in a discussion. The group was able to share a wide range of examples of their own experiences, from group reflection exercises and the scope that this raises for support and encouragement; to storytelling as a means to disseminate new ideas or promote issues such as, for example, increased male participation in nursing. Through this an interesting sub-topic around our own experiences of therapeutic storytelling in clinical practice developed, leading to a further discussion around the various forms that storytelling can take, whether verbal, narrative, using music, art, photography, or visual sketch-boarding, and the positive benefits of these that the group had witnessed on both patients and their loved ones.

Rounding off, the group examined the extent to which storytelling has featured in our own studies and, if not, the potential to include it in the future. The general feedback was that the role of storytelling does not currently feature heavily in any of our chosen courses, but that, based on our own SLP experiences, we would all like to see it do so, particularly role-modelling and story-boarding as a means of practice education. It was, however, widely agreed that we have all felt a greater ability to relate to and be inspired by the members of academic staff who, whether anecdotally or purposefully, have chosen to share their own stories as part of the student/teacher relationship.

In conclusion, it was agreed that authentic storytelling can prove to be an invaluable tool with which to build trust, create a narrative, inspire, engage a team and build support for a desired outcome; also in a clinical context, to build a therapeutic relationship, encourage engagement and to ease the stigma around often difficult subject matter. The extent to which this requires an element of vulnerability and therefore emotional intelligence will differ based on the individual story teller and the relevant circumstance…

Surely there’s a topic for a future #150Leaders conference in there somewhere!

Thanks again to Katerina and to all who made it such an engaging and informative discussion.

Samuel Richards @SamuelOftenSam