Career advice

BME nurse leaders: perceptions of what’s possible

At Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, black and minority ethnic staff are actively encouraged to apply for more senior roles, with one-to-one coaching from the trust’s chief nurse just one of the supportive measures on offer.

At Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, black and minority ethnic staff are actively encouraged to apply for more senior roles, with one-to-one coaching from the trust’s chief nurse just one of the supportive measures on offer

bme
Leadership needs to reflect our diverse workforce and population.
 Picture: iStock

Since Rukeya Miah joined Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 16 years ago, she has progressed from midwifery student to matron.

‘As a clinician, you need a hunger to develop,’ she says. ‘How you reach your end goal is then down to the organisation and you, working in partnership.’

After qualifying as an adult registered nurse in 1994, Ms Miah took a shortened midwifery programme at Bradford, then decided to stay with the trust.

‘It was the best decision I made,’ she says. ‘The opportunities I’ve had here since then have been instrumental in my development as a midwife, clinician and leader.’

Developing potential

After rotating through various midwifery roles, Ms Miah did an advanced practice course and a master’s programme, gaining promotion to a practice development post at band 7.

She also completed a supervisory midwifery course – now known as professional midwifery advocates – becoming one of just a handful of midwives locally from a black and minority ethnic (BME) background to do so.

After completing an NHS leadership programme, she took up a band 8a post as matron in renal medicine, diabetes and infectious diseases. This enabled her to develop her leadership potential while continuing to be a midwifery advocate.

Transferable skills

‘It’s a challenge, but I think I have a lot of transferable skills,’ she says.

Alongside formal leadership, educational programmes and external coaching, she believes one-to-one mentoring with the trust’s chief nurse, Karen Dawber, has been a crucial factor in her promotion.

‘I’ve benefited massively,’ says Ms Miah. ‘It’s made me feel empowered and emboldened to go further and do that bit more.’

Ms Miah says that since Ms Dawber’s appointment a year ago there has been an even greater emphasis on developing the existing workforce, especially BME staff.

Help to develop

‘There’s a real recognition that leadership needs to be reflective and representative of both our diverse workforce and population. The trust has made a huge investment in helping people of all backgrounds to develop,’ she says.

Ms Miah attends monthly meetings of the trust’s BME network, where staff can share inspirational experiences. The trust also welcomes open and honest conversations, looking at what dissuades BME people from putting themselves forward for promotion.

‘There can be a perception among some groups that opportunities aren’t for them,’ says Ms Miah. ‘We need to change those perceptions, and I can be a powerful role model.

‘It’s very easy to be negative, but we have to see the positives and ask ourselves – what can we do to take that work further and inspire ourselves?’


Lynne Pearce is a freelance health journalist

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