Skip to the content

Developing digital leadership in nursing and midwifery


Vivienne Raper

Get UKAuthority News


Nurse with tablet computer
Image source:

Feature: The Florence Nightingale Foundation is running a second round of its programme to boost capability in the sector

There is more to digital leadership than understanding how the technology works, and the Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF) is working on developing the capability in nursing and midwifery.

The charity for building leadership capacity in the sector broke new ground last year with the launch of its Early Digital Healthcare Leadership Programme and is now planning to run a second course with an increased number of delegates.

It is scheduled for 22-24 November with 20 delegates, up from the eight who took part in last year’s pilot. Eight will be sponsored by healthcare software company System C and 12 will be funded by the NHS and independent sectors

According to Lucy Brown, director of nursing and midwifery leadership development at FNF, the programme aims to support midwives, nurses and allied health professionals who are new to digital healthcare leadership, although not necessarily in their early career.

“We’re delivering a three-day residential bespoke leadership course focused on developing future leaders and bringing likeminded individuals together,” she says.

“The programme was put in place to enable participants to explore, define and develop their unique approach to leadership within digital transformation.”

Teams and personalities

Brown explained that the first day of the three-day course is led by the foundation itself and focuses on how delegates perform within teams and their personalities.

“When you become a leader, we believe self-awareness is your superpower and, once you’re self-aware, you can successfully lead change within teams,” she says.

Day two is led by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and aims to build participants’ emotional intelligence. The aim is to help them engage people in their organisations in digital change and to build new processes around the deployment of digital technologies.

CHIME International (the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives) leads the third day, which focuses on digital transformation and helping delegate define the next steps in their personal and professional development.

After the course, the delegates can join a network of around 1,800 FNF alumni, Brown explained. These, she said, include some of the best nurses and midwives across the UK.

Personal challenges

The programme is the brainchild of Jacqueline Davis, clinical adoption specialist at System C Healthcare, who said she had noticed the growing wave of digital nurses sometimes struggled in their new roles.

“It’s a lot for a new Band 7 or Band 8a (nurse) to lead these massive digital transformations with the associated culture shift,” she says.

Implementing electronic observations, for example, might involve clinicians having to take down notes rather than carry out a verbal handover. A digital nurse might also need to work out, for example, which teams cover which shifts and how they handover – to embed the handover within the electronic system.

“It (might involve) capturing corridor conversations and trying to do that across an entire NHS organisation, and responsibility for that might be placed on one nurse,” she said.

Having looked around at available training to help digital nurses, Davis felt that it was often limited to longer courses, such as a masters’ degree in informatics, or the FNF’s year-long Digital Leadership Scholarship, which a new digital nurse might not have the opportunity to take.

“What I felt was lacking, looking around the country from an educational perspective, was anything around digital leadership for newer digital nurses,” she says.


As a result, she approached her employer and the FNF to sponsor eight places on the new programme.

“What I said was, if those nurses are successful, because we give them the skills to enable that success, then we will be successful. Because our product will be better rolled out, better adopted and embedded.”

She emphasises, however, that it is not designed to sell a product and that System C has no role in the selection process.

Her rationale for the programme is that it largely aims to help digital nurses to feel empowered and to develop their skills, giving the sense of authority to implement digital change. A significant element of this is the RADA day, which provides guidance in how to talk and present written work.

Another element of the programme is the delegates taking a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality test to help identify their strengths and weaknesses. For example, to help them understand whether they’re an introvert, and if so how to boost their extrovert side.

Boosting confidence

“I’ve had a couple of (delegates) speak at a conference after (the course) and, although terrified, they did it and had the confidence to do it,” Davis says.

She claims that last year’s attendees “universally changed their views of themselves and what they were doing.” They have stayed in touch via WhatsApp to share advice and several have considered both going for promotions and wider career moves.

Moreover, she says they have remained keen to stay involved in digital healthcare.

“It re-emphasised for them that they were in the right place and digital was the way forward.”

Register For Alerts

Keep informed - Get the latest news about the use of technology, digital & data for the public good in your inbox from UKAuthority.