Posted by: ayrshirehealth | June 5, 2013

The Northern Lights by @ProfAWallace

Early Clinical Careers Fellowships

ECCF 1When I reflect on the success we have had as we implemented the Early Clinical Careers Fellowships, I immediately thought of the Northern Lights …… quite a spectacular light show from such talented and gifted nurses and midwives at the beginning of their career. Each time I speak to them or celebrate their journey the colours and glow of their passion to improve clinical care and experience could easily match Aurora Borealis.

SENDI was honoured to be asked to chair this work on behalf of the Scottish Executive Nurse Directors (SEND) and as I took up the mantle I realised that some of the initial reactions to the concept felt as strong as the upper atmospheric solar storm!

Nurture talent

Could we dare to think that we can grow and nurture talent? Testing, selecting and supporting those who wish to strive to be future influential clinical leaders?

Well yes….that’s the plan.

I wonder if any of the following sound familiar to you? …….I paraphrase and exaggerate a little for effect!

“Well you just can’t do that…we are Scottish and moreover not in nursing!” “You won’t be supported by the Boards, what about those who don’t get the chance”?  “We can’t have people thinking we are treating someone as special”.

“If they haven’t come up through the ranks they will be no good, a degree but no clinical experience or credibility = Too posh to wash”

Well at least the other storm with the incredible colours was 100 miles from earth!

The feedback was gold dust and we were determined to use this powerful contextual intelligence to be tactically prepared for implementation of ECCF.

The notion of tall poppies is one that will evoke our own very personal and perhaps professional views. The literature, although not vast, confirms that the approach can yield impressive results in terms of success in chosen careers especially when tracked over time.  An interesting thought occurred to me how wonderful for Scotland to contribute to Modernising Nursing Careers and pilot this for the four countries, but why choose Scotland for this element? Is it perhaps given our culture of having strong proud identity and a passion for our country and its people may have made us a first choice? Or is it about a nation who are arguably much more about ‘try hard’ rather than believe we have to put others down to feel we are going to succeed or win? This feels like we could have a winning combination, and of course, you have recently heard from some of our ECC Fellows, it indeed is!

We know that clinical leaders can be grown, developed and if positioned correctly can turnaround performance, culture and inspire and determine improvement.  The overarching desire was and is to develop future clinical leaders who will want to shape, influence, drive and lead patient care. The 20-20 vision requires senior leaders to be brave with with their power and for all to enjoy disseminated leadership that is respectful and person centred. Our results are encouraging and perhaps we have a blueprint that will i strongly suspect may feature in the upcoming leadership strategy to deliver this vision.

In its lifetime this fellowship was asking senior leaders to think long term investment in a time where resources are scarce and organisations were looking for easy revenue savings from education, research and development. Despite the pressures the key stakeholders wanted to look longer term and wanted to make the fellowships succeed. Translating this commitment into action we have seen continued funding from the Scottish Government and by the presence of the Cabinet Secretary at its launch and most recently at our celebration event. Furthermore, the teams within NES, Chief Nursing Officer Directorate and SEND have all played significant parts in ensuring the pilot then the fellowship was delivered fulfilling the commitment we gave to the four countries.

It has not been all plain sailing of course, we might enjoy the Aurora without dwelling on the opposing interactions that cause such a captivating phenomenon. I have listened carefully to the experiences and to the feelings that the fellows have had during their fellowship. I said at the celebration event that for me the fellows allow the profession a unique look at how we really are. Can we recognise ourselves and can we really feel proud of how we care for one another? The answer to that will be very individual but if we are to be a profession that wants to model the way in achieving person centred care, we will want to focus on those who need our care and for those who give that care!

ECCF AuroraThey say the Northern Lights are seen most clearly by polar regions and that is perhaps why our northern Celtic country with its fight and fire to be brave and deliver for the people was chosen to prove that ECCF would work? It most definitely has. Sure there was enough hot air to cause a significant solar storm visible from Borders to the Islands but the results translated across the United Kingdom. Inspiring and determined clinical leaders that, I can predict, will be found leading nursing and midwifery practice now and into the future. We will continue to support and track their impact and success over time. If you see any strange light formations in your local care settings, look for an ECCF fellow, they will likely be very close by.

 @profawallace (Professor Angela Wallace) is Executive Nurse Director in NHS Forth Valley, Chair of ECCF and Hon Professor Stirling University

Next week, leading off on our trilogy of blogs from ECCF fellows, is first time Ayrshirehealth blogger @ikanerz


  1. […] The Northern Lights by Professor Angela Wallace on the Ayrshire Health blog. […]

  2. […] Angela Wallace had lots of colour in her post, The Northern Lights on the Ayrshire Health blog. It was a lovely metaphor for a scheme to develop and encourage future […]

  3. […]  Leading off the month was @ProfAWallace who was chair of the national group, with her blog The Northern Lights.  The rest of the month featured three ECCF fellows as various stages in their own progress […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: