My job

My job: nursing and midwifery director

Shelley Dolan took over as director of nursing and midwifery at Kings College Hospital this month.
Shelley Dolan

Shelley Dolan took over as director of nursing and midwifery at Kings College Hospital this month. She discusses her career highlights so far and what she hopes to achieve in her new role

Why did you become a nurse?

It was a little unexpected, I had the experience of a family member being in hospital and was inspired by the work of nurses and the difference they made.

What might you have done otherwise?

I was all set to be a famous writer or director of plays my first degree was in English and Drama but I thought I would try nursing and then absolutely loved it. I still really enjoy literature and the theatre.

How and where have you developed your leadership skills?

I think much of this has been experiential learning from amazing nurses and other clinical role models. Over the

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Shelley Dolan took over as director of nursing and midwifery at Kings College Hospital this month. She discusses her career highlights so far and what she hopes to achieve in her new role

 
Why did you become a nurse?

It was a little unexpected, I had the experience of a family member being in hospital and was inspired by the work of nurses and the difference they made.

What might you have done otherwise?

I was all set to be a famous writer or director of plays – my first degree was in English and Drama but I thought I would try nursing and then absolutely loved it. I still really enjoy literature and the theatre. 

How and where have you developed your leadership skills?

I think much of this has been experiential learning from amazing nurses and other clinical role models. Over the past 10 years, this has been working with executive leaders at the Royal Marsden but also across London in hospitals and more recently with commissioners and clinical commissioning groups across London and Manchester as part of the new care models vanguard family. 

How do you anticipate your current job will make use of these?

King’s College Hospital is a large complex trust spanning world class specialist services and essential local care. I am looking forward to working with its wonderful nursing, clinical and executive teams to further develop and transform the science, education and care needed by people in south east London.

What or who inspires you, and why?

Many people have inspired me during my career. I have been enormously lucky to work with clinical leaders across the UK, Europe, the US States and Australasia, and have seen an inspiring commitment and determination to improve healthcare research, education and care.

On a weekly basis, though, I would say that I am inspired by acts of compassion and incredible intelligent effective care by the nurses, doctors and allied health professionals that I work with; and by the courage and determination shown by patients and their families. 

Professionally speaking, what has given you most satisfaction?

Probably two things: the growth of junior nurses who have been encouraged and nurtured to become inspirational leaders in their own right, and the delivery of expert clinical risk and governance systems that have encouraged all clinicians to report and encourage safe practice to the benefit of patients and staff.

What achievement makes you most proud?

Seeing nurses empowered to lead clinical teams to provide care that any of us would be proud to receive; and seeing the fruition of some of the international collaborations and networks flourishing that support nurses from across the world to improve healthcare.

Outside work what do you enjoy doing?

Having fun with my family and friends and exploring in the outdoors and all that nature has to offer. I also have a major passion for literature, the theatre and cinema, and can often be found with my nose in a book.

Finally, I have a very eclectic taste in music from the extreme punk of my youth to the beauty of classical music and opera.

What makes a good nurse leader?

I don’t think there is a finite model but probably a good mix of the following: a belief in the ‘art of the possible’ and an absolute dogged ambition and determination for improvement; the ability to work as part of the team and to take people with you, resilience and courage to deal with the unexpected, and difficult challenges, a belief in the real power of nursing locally, nationally and internationally to make a difference in people’s lives, the ability to network and make real authentic connections with others and finally a sense of fun and humour.

What advice would give a newly-registered nurse?

Nursing is the most incredibly wonderful profession – excellent nursing is complex and challenging but when achieved makes a tangible difference to people’s lives.

 

Shelley Dolan is executive director of nursing and midwifery at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London

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