I have often heard the phrase “agent of change” especially of late with the upcoming NHS Change Day on 13.3.13 but it has never been a phrase that I have applied to myself. Agent of change to me conjures up all sorts of ninja style aggressive fighters that bravely storm the castle fighting the good fight …. This is not me! Anyone who meets me soon realises I am not a ninja!!
The work that I have done using social media to bring nurses together to connect, share and support has not been fuelled by the desire to be an agent of change but rather in response to the problem of an increasingly disconnected and unsupported nursing population (of which I was one of). Using social media I have been able to think differently and facilitate nurses to come together and form a community … there’s nothing ninja about that! In fact to me it’s all about thinking differently to resolve the challenges that we are faced with. However this week I took part in a very inspiring webinar “How to rock the boat and stay in it!” presented by Helen Bevan that caused me to reflect. In this webinar Helen was talking about change, being an agent of change and standing up and rocking the boat…..
My initial thoughts were if I am not a Ninja I am almost certainly not a boat rocker! But as the webinar progressed I started to see Helens point of view and make connections about what she was saying to my own journey. Helen talked about how boat rockers can be laughed at and become isolated within organisations being seen as trouble or difficult. Whilst I am pretty sure I have never been seen as trouble, I certainly remember people laughing at the idea of nurses communicating in a valuable and professional way using social media early on in my journey. This in turn did make me feel quite isolated however I was very lucky as I had some determination fuelled by my own individual need and in addition to this I gathered some wonderful support that kept me going regardless.
At the start of my journey I felt that something needed to be done as I realised that nurses were no longer connected to each other in a valuable way on a professional basis and I hoped that through taking action and stepping up to the mark I could make a small difference. Through my journey I have had a strong sense that nurses who are able to support each other, learn from each other and share ideas and experiences can feel empowered and confident and become better nurses – in essence a happy, supported and well informed nurse gives good care. In addition to this I have always had the small goals in mind and that helps me to override negativity. I firmly believe that a difference made on an individual level is always important; two nurses connecting, sharing and supporting is worthwhile because it makes a difference to those two nurses which in turn has a ripple effect on their colleagues and their patients – I am living breathing testament to this and these days when someone laughs about tweeting nurses it is the impact on individuals and the ripple that has that keeps me going. Although looking back there are times when I have felt isolated and shunned, like the mad woman locked in the attic, I have always had the support of like-minded people who have been locked in with me! Today seeing the impact that WeNurses is having on the nursing community is the most wonderful thing and knowing that came about from an individual need and in turn my one small action gives me a very warm feeling indeed.
Towards the end of the webinar Helen shared a poem by Eric Markham that I immediately identified with:
He drew a circle to shut me out
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout
But love and I have the wit to win
I drew a circle that took him in
I may not see myself as a ninja-esque agent of change dashing in to join the storming of the castle but I have dared to think differently and drawn a circle that is drawing in people individual by individual, nurse by nurse and as our circle creates ripples those ripples are making impact and rocking the boat.
I would encourage all those around me (whether you see yourself as a boat rocker, an agent of change or a ninja) this NHS Change Day to dare to think differently …and if the ripples you make have an impact on just one person then you will have succeeded.