Advice and development

Shadowing a chief nurse: demands, decisions and delegation

Shadowing a chief nurse for the day was an invaluable learning experience for nursing student Georgina Ledwith, showing the importance of effective teamwork and communication and a reminder why patient safety always comes first

Shadowing a chief nurse for the day was an invaluable learning experience for nursing student Georgina Ledwith, showing the importance of effective teamwork and communication and a reminder why patient safety always comes first


Picture: iStock

I recently had the privilege of shadowing Amanda Pye, chief nurse at London North West University Healthcare where I have been completing my placements over the past three years.

I emailed her after finding her details on the trust’s intranet site, and was genuinely surprised when she replied and agreed to my request.

The day involved a lot of meetings with different senior leaders at the trust. They focused on issues such as day-to-day hospital management and planning, with one meeting about how best to cope with winter pressures including discussions about bed capacity and staffing levels.

Another meeting looked at the trust’s ‘serious incident’ reports, including why a particular incident happened and how to avoid it in future. This taught me the importance of not taking shortcuts, and that choices have consequences.

Awareness of policies

Some of the incidents occurred because trust policies were not followed. This was a good reminder that policies are there for a reason, and that as a nursing student I need to be aware of these and prioritise patient safety when making decisions.

One of the challenges Ms Pye faces in her role is visibility. With such a packed schedule every day, and multiple hospital sites to cover, it is hard to find time to visit wards and meet people. But Ms Pye still made every effort to involve staff in decisions, usually through staff forums. 

The role involves constantly making decisions, with multiple demands placed on Ms Pye's time and many people relying on her. But teamwork is essential to being an effective leader, and when delegating tasks to colleagues in nursing teams she was clear in her expectations, setting deadlines for feedback and listening to any concerns.

Constant pressure

There is also huge variety in the role. We were in her office discussing the role of the Care Quality Commission when a member of staff from the communications team came in with a draft response to an article to be published by a newspaper the next day.

With so much happening within the organisation, I was reminded that constant pressure and judgements come from external organisations too.

Shadowing Ms Pye for a day was an invaluable learning experience. Kind and approachable, she seemed to genuinely value people, and I was humbled that someone so busy and so senior would make time for me.

She showed me that with different roles come different opportunities and challenges. This helped me realise that no matter what your level of seniority or responsibility, you can still make a difference.


Georgina_LedwithGeorgina Ledwith is a third-year year nursing student at Buckinghamshire New University and the London member of the RCN student committee

@GeorginaKVL

 

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