My job: Queen’s Nursing Institute programme manager Sharon Aldridge-Bent
Consider what your core values are when caring for patients and never lose sight of them, Queen’s Nursing Institute programme manager Sharon Aldridge-Bent says.
Consider what your core values are when caring for patients and never lose sight of them, Queen’s Nursing Institute programme manager Sharon Aldridge-Bent says
What is your job?
I am a programme manager for the Queen’s Nursing Institute. I will be running three projects with responsibility for a fourth. The main project will be managing a new community leadership programme for Queen’s Nurses.
Where did you train?
I trained at Barnet and Edgware General Hospitals, in London, and quickly became interested in knowing more about patients’ lives. Getting to know patients in their own homes and adopting a person-centred approach to care are why I was drawn to community nursing. While working as a community staff nurse, it was a natural progression to complete the specialist practitioner qualification, and I became a district nurse. Here, I honed my holistic assessment skills and gained invaluable experience in leading and managing a team. I also developed a passion for community and palliative care nursing, which has remained with me throughout my career. I funded some of my formal qualifications along the way and completed a bachelor’s degree in health studies at night school, which gave me a thirst for knowledge and academic study.
I then went to work for a strategic health authority, where I ran a project across six teaching hospitals. In this role, I began to test my leadership skills and my ability to effectively network with stakeholders to develop a new initiative in nursing. I was also awarded funding to complete a master’s degree in education. This led to an opportunity to further indulge my passion for district nursing and I applied to be a senior lecturer teaching community nurses, a position I held for 12 years.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Having the opportunity to fully concentrate on community nursing, which is my passion.
How and where have you developed leadership skills?
You can be a leader while working at any level in an organisation. At each stage in my career, I have had the opportunity to develop as a leader. I have been able to fulfil my own values about caring and serving and this has resonated in other roles I have taken on. For example, I have been a magistrate for 16 years and, through this role, I have developed interpersonal skills. It built up my confidence to assert and communicate my opinion in a professional manner. I have benefitted from experience in conflict resolution and structured decision-making processes, while adhering to a judicial way of thinking. I have also been a trustee of my local hospice and I have had to think strategically about how the organisation is to develop.
What would you change if you could?
I would like to raise the profile of district nursing, which can be overlooked. Additionally, I would like to put district nursing at the top of the agenda for those who commission care closer to home.
What inspires you?
District nurses who continue to work under sometimes stressful and challenging conditions. When I hear of their bravery in striving to deliver good care to patients in their own homes, I am in awe and applaud them.
What achievement makes you most proud?
It’s difficult to pinpoint one particular achievement. However, receiving my Queen’s Nurse title in front of my 86-year-old mother was a highlight.
What advice would you like to pass onto students and junior staff?
Consider what your core values are when caring for patients and never lose sight of these as you embark on your leadership journey.