12th January 2021

Out of your comfort zone? Do it anyway!

Rachael Palmer, #150Leaders alumni and registered nurse, compares her experiences on the #150Leaders with the Healthcare Leadership Academy.

My Healthcare Leadership Academy (The HLA) experience started with a Twitter message from another nurse I’d connected with during the #150Leaders Programme. I loved my time with the #150Leaders: it opened my eyes to a world outside of my nursing degree and I met friends that I now meet up with regularly. It was the perfect introduction into healthcare leadership and what that looks like today.

This message though encouraged me to think about developing those skills further. I learnt that The HLA was a multi-disciplinary programme including medics and not just students but early career professionals with some leadership experience under their belt. It sounded daunting, and out of my comfort zone, but to me this meant I should probably do it anyway.

So I applied. The application involved a short video, an essay on my leadership experience to date and an idea for a project. It wasn’t a small undertaking, but I was proud of what I produced. I then had a short interview / chat with the course director, Johann, and was successful. I had some small idea of what the following year would entail, but not wholly…

Our first day was in London in September 2019, bringing together a whole intake of scholars from across the country and beyond. I’d taken the overnight Megabus from Plymouth and was bleary-eyed but soon awakened by the energy and enthusiasm of the room.

From that day on, there has been laughter, learning and lots of challenging conversations in a completely flat hierarchy. We have had training on talking to the media, how to not flop when doing some spontaneous public speaking, challenged our thoughts about diversity and inclusion and negotiated our way out of difficult situations.

But The HLA is more than the sessions and doing the exercises and elevating our projects, it is a virtual community of like-minded professionals from a hugely diverse range of backgrounds, ages, routes into their profession. It is a constant source of support and ideas. I like to think about The HLA community as a physical spider diagram of amazing people doing amazing things which never ends.

Talking of things not ending, my year with The HLA ‘completed’ last summer but you never really leave. I’m now a mentor for a 2020-21 scholar and the lead for The HLA Nurse and AHP Network, a group of scholars who are nurses and allied health professionals connecting in a shared space.

I would implore anyone from the #150Leaders to apply to The HLA and invite you to drop me a message if you have any questions about The HLA community, programme or application. It may be out of your comfort zone, but challenge yourself to do it anyway.

Rachael Palmer | @rachaelpalmerRNRegistered Nurse working in NHS Haematology, Clinical Demonstrator, Council of Deans of Health #150Leaders Alumni, HLA Scholar 2019-20 and HLA Nurse & AHP Network Lead.