inchargeagainMid December saw the second round of #InCharge of WeNurses – for four days four people took charge of the WeNurses Twitter account.  We had trialled this previously in September and it worked very well so we decided to give it a go again.  We haven’t quite reached the stage of allowing anyone to take charge as yet so the #InCharge process was by special invitation only still.  This time we had @STMHnurserahs a student mental health nurse, @DGFoord Director of Quality & Clinical Governance at a Clinical Commissioning Group, @uhcw_inf_con The Infection Control Team from University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire and  @HoJane a Urology Nurse Specialist. Each person brought their own unique view of nursing to their tweets and brought a great perspective but what each person had in common was their passion for nursing and this certainly shone through. Some really brilliant ideas were shared and fabulous discussions were held, each #InCharge tweeter was wonderful…. Even down to the sharing of kitten and puppy pictures!  However with all this tweeting being done for WeNurses I did find myself with the rare gift of time on my hands! At first I really couldn’t figure out what to do, I wrapped a few Christmas gifts and sat back and relaxed for a bit.. then rather inevitably I found myself doing something.

essayHaving had a rather hectic end of November / beginning of December I have to admit to getting quite behind with the Mary Seacole NHS Leadership Programme work and it was all I could do to get my 1st assignment report out on time.  With the slowing down of my life mainly due to the #InCharge InChargers (yes I know this is a dubious made up type of word, but nevertheless it’s very fitting) I was not only able to catch up a little but also to reflect on my #SeacoleProg journey so far.

timeOne of the major concerns the first time our tutor group met was time.  Many people identified one of their fears as not having enough time to devote to the programme.  There is no doubt that time has been a major challenge since the programme started but I have found that I have ‘made time’ – I am really not sure how I have achieved this, but a little bit here and a little bit there seems to have worked and I have found that completing each section has not been too much of a hardship.  One thing I did not account for though was the dissemination and adaptation of all this information to not only my own practice but also in relation to my own behaviours.  I have found myself on a bit of an emotional roller coaster as I have assessed and analysed not only myself but also a project very close to my heart #WeNurses and the #NurseCommunity.

everestIt’s no secret that I have never really seen myself as a leader but some of the things I have learnt through my journey and via the start of the Mary Seacole programme have shown me that we each at certain points in our careers and lives meet leadership challenges and that you do not need any formal authority in order to step up to these challenges. The recognition of my own leadership challenge and the skills I need to develop in order to meet it have totally overwhelmed me over the last few weeks.  By really looking .. And I mean really looking … At what I do and where WeNurses is and the challenges that the #NurseCommunity face I have felt fear in the very core of my sole! WeNurses is growing and growing and with followers and tweets are doubling every 6 months. Questions like what if I am not up to it? What if I fail? And what if I find myself unable to cope? Have crossed my mind more than a few times in the past weeks. And the compounding factor being that this is social media and however much we plan it is like we are climbing Everest for the very first time so we really have no idea what to expect.

digital leaderI guess this means that all of this leadership learning is working as it’s making me think and plan. Yes the future scares me … it scares me because I am passionate and because I care.  I don’t have a crystal ball and I don’t know where social media and healthcare is going but I do know that in order to make the most of it we need a new type of leader – a digital leader in healthcare.  This type of leader is emerging regardless of hierarchy, regardless of geography and regardless of no formal authority.  People are stepping up to leadership challenges and facing them head on.  I count myself very lucky to be part of this and am glad that not only do I have the support to do this but also that I am being given the skills.

Hello my name is Teresa and I am a tweeting nurse

It’s hard to believe that a year ago tweeting as a nurse was discouraged by many directors of nursing and hospital trusts.  I remember at the conference last year the audience were asked how many of them tweeted and a very small amount of people raised their hands – then last week at the CNO Summit this had changed significantly with over 50% of delegates raising their hands to the same question.  But you don’t have to believe me you only have to look at the comparative figures to see the impact over the past year.



There can be no doubt that a huge change has occurred! Maybe down to Anne Coopers plenary last year extolling the virtues of being in a digital space or maybe down to the CareMakers enthusiasm and energy or maybe due to the permeation of the #NurseCommunity into nurses hearts and nursing culture. Whatever the reason it is clear to me that that it is not only in the numbers that had changed but also the language we are using – it was interesting to hear Jane Cummings talk of communities and not networks, the importance of a warm supportive community seems to have reached the very top of nursing. It was also great to see movements such as @GrangerKate‘s #hellomynameis being embraced throughout the conference and entering into the language of the speakers and delegates.

There was a time when I sometimes had to be careful who I told that I was a tweeting nurse for fear of reprisal or ridicule.  Having started off my journey into social media anonymously I was well aware of healthcare’s attitude towards social media so to be able stand up and say “Hello my name is Teresa and I am a tweeting nurse” in front of a room full of senior nurses at the CNO Summit as I did this week it was somewhat of a revelation! I have to admit to being quite nervous about presenting a seminar at the conference. Having Sally Wilson (@WeLDnurses) and Alison Inglehern (@MHnursechat) alongside helped but having the voice of 12,000 nurses invading the conference via twitter really did give me courage.  We asked the tweeting #nursecommunity to help us out using #CNOtweets and tell us why they tweet and why Directors of Nursing should tweet and we were totally overwhelmed by the help we received:


(To see all of these tweets please go to the WeNurses website)

On the morning of our presentation at the conference I awoke to my phone buzzing from tweets and once I started reading them not only was I incredibly emotional (and spent the first half an hour of the day in tears) but also very proud of the impact that this wonderful community has had on so many.  We received at total of 801 tweets from 184 people over the course of the morning.  So thank you to those of you who shared their thoughts – we had a twitter wall running whilst we presented our seminar and even read out some of the tweets. There were a few tweets that stood out but one in particular really hit home for me from @nursemaiden “As a nurse you will never walk alone with twitter by your side” This is how I feel.  And as I stood at the front of the room at the CNO Summit and delivered our seminar I felt as though I had thousands of nurses right by my side ….. thank you all for being there.