Supporting nurses to become clinical leaders

RCN clinical leadership programme revitalises senior nurses' approach to leading and managing teams 

Putting ideas into practice is at the core of the RCN’s clinical leadership programme, which supports participants to make improvements.  


Clinical leadershop programmes focus the mind on one issue. Image: Getty

‘It’s a transformational experience,’ says RCN interim head of education Anne Corrin. ‘The change is both personal and professional.’ 

Feedback from those taking part highlights increasing self-awareness and improvements in managing teams, with the programme revitalising their approach. Organisations say the course has a positive effect on staff retention. 

Dual offering

Suitable for both NHS trusts and the independent sector, the programme is offered in two ways:

  1. For individuals and costs £2,000 plus VAT, with discounts for RCN members. The next programme starts in January at the RCN headquarters in London. 
  2. For healthcare organisations, which select a representative to be trained at an RCN residential course. The aim is for the participant to become an approved facilitator, gaining a licence to deliver the programme to up to 20 people a year over a recommended 10-month period. ‘It’s similar to train the trainer,’ explains Dr Corrin.
    The fee is £9,600 plus VAT. This includes the residential course, the licence to deliver the programme, support from an RCN associate consultant and all programme materials. If the participant goes on to train the maximum of 20 people the cost equates to £480 for each person, and so can be a more cost effective way to train larger groups of staff. The next course will take place in September. 
Content delivery

Both modes of delivery share the same programme content, which includes inspiring a shared vision, modelling the way and enabling others to act. At the outset, participants are expected to have undergone some form of self-assessment. 

‘They need to know their starting point so they can evaluate what they’ve gained at the end,’ says Dr Corrin. 

The programme is designed for clinicians at bands 6 and 7 who are expected to lead a service improvement project in their workplace. 

Dr Corrin says they are likely to be ward managers or deputies. ‘They need some authority to be able to deliver on their own project. We seek buy-in from their managers too,’ she says. 

Powerful experience

Action learning sets are another key aspect of the programme. These comprise four to six people who provide a safe space to discuss potentially challenging issues and suggest solutions to trial. The individual can report back on what happens. 

‘You have a group with different opinions and experience all focusing their minds on one issue,’ says Dr Corrin. ‘They can be really powerful.’ 

The RCN is also in the early stages of planning a leadership course for those at bands 2-5. 

For more information or to apply for either model, email leadershipdevelopment@rcn.org.uk or telephone 0207 647 3485. 

Lynne Pearce is a freelance health writer 

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