30th March 2020

Reflections on the journey so far

By Jemma Hughes

It has been two weeks since the Council of Deans of Health’s #150Leaders Conference took place in Reading. It was two days of inspiring stories, incredible people, and a true sense of community that will travel with me for a long time. And I almost never applied.

Imposter Syndrome has stalked me for as long as I can remember, and with the programme, it really put me off the idea of applying. But it was one of my university tutors who reached out and made me think again about putting in an application. What’s the worst that could happen, if I gave it a try. I am truly glad, and grateful, that I pushed myself and did give it that try. In December, I was truly shocked, and humbled, to receive one of the spaces in the 2020 #150Leaders cohort.

Fast forward to March, and walking into the conference, I was a tad nervous. It was a bit like the first day of university again. Would people talk to me, what was the day going to involve, were they sure it was me who deserved a place. Turns out, I wasn’t the only one who felt like this. There was also no need to be worried. There was a constant buzz of chatter, of laughter, of common ground being discovered and explored. We were encouraged to push ourselves, stand up and present, challenge our own ideas and perspectives, learn about healthcare professions we don’t necessarily come across or know about, think about why we were sat in that room, why we had picked our professions, what drove us, what kind of leader did we want to be. I have never had the loudest voice in a room, or thought of myself as some kind of big leader, but that was okay. What I took away from just the first few hours was that you can be your own kind of leader, and you are, and always will be, enough.

In the two weeks since the conference, the world is a completely new and, quite frankly, scary place, while the healthcare world has been completely turned on its head. I’ve finished my second placement of my second year, university has moved online, and how the rest of our midwifery course is going to look is constantly changing. We are all living in the unknown. But we are surviving, and those still working in universities, in society, in every family, are leading us into the unprecedented, and are doing an incredible job.

One thing that hasn’t completely changed over the last two weeks is that buzz from the conference. The #150Leaders are still checking in on each other. We still share bits of joy we’ve found during placement or university, swap ideas, support each other when it all seems a bit too much. Not only has the programme already pushed me to try new things, push my brain a bit harder, and delve into the world of Twitter, it has made me feel like part of a safe community. That can never be underestimated, or undervalued, especially in the world we now find ourselves in.

We’ve now got to continue to look forward. We’ve got coaching to commence, and projects to plan. Both may need a bit of tweaking to adapt to the current climate, but with the positivity and support that has been enforced through the #150Leaders programme, we have the tools to find the best in the situation, whilst still having each other’s backs.