Senior NHS staff encourage Africans and Caribbeans to consider a career in nursing ahead of National Careers Week
This National Careers Week, the ‘We Are the NHS’ campaign is highlighting the inspiring stories of senior Black staff and the exciting and varied nursing roles available across the NHS.
Nichole Mckintosh believes she was destined to work in nursing. “As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to help people, so pursuing a care role felt like a natural fit,” she says. “When I help people, I help myself. It’s a two-way process that benefits everyone involved.” Nichole studied nursing at London South Bank University and later trained at King George Hospital. “It took three years for me to become fully qualified,” shares Nichole. “I have now been a nurse for 23 years! You look back and wonder where the time goes!”
Nichole is now the Regional Head of Nursing and Midwifery at Health Education England (HEE). As part of her job Nichole works closely with partners across the capital to develop and sustain a world-class nursing and midwifery workforce that is fit for the 21st Century. She helps to maximise opportunities for professional growth and development for HEE’s students and staff. But Nichole’s journey hasn’t always been easy.
“Sometimes it can be challenging to navigate the professional space in a white majority organisation; for instance, I have not even applied for certain roles because I didn’t feel confident enough to go forward despite being perfectly qualified,” shares Nichole. “But I have learnt to embrace my blackness and will be assertive when I need to. You don’t change things by preaching to the choir, you change things by speaking to the congregation – and I’m glad the NHS is a place that values my voice.”
Nichole believes good communication skills are important – especially in the NHS. “Being able to articulate yourself clearly and confidently will help you to overcome some of the challenges you may face,” she says. There is also the challenge of choosing which path to take when it comes to nursing – not least because there are more than 50 types of nursing roles to choose from in the NHS.
Being a parent to two young children hasn’t been a barrier to Nichole’s career success either. “The NHS is very inclusive and flexible to meet the professional and personal needs of its staff. If you’re successful here – you have a job for life.” As for Nichole’s family, they are elated with her success. “My family is very proud of how far I’ve come,” says Nichole. “My father is a retired teacher in Jamaica who keeps copies of every article that mentions my work! I am extremely grateful to have a loving and supportive family behind me.”
Nichole wants to encourage others to also pursue a career at the NHS. “Nurses are offered a privileged position to witness someone at their most vulnerable and are given the opportunity to help – for me this has always been a real honour,” says Nichole. “I would recommend a job here for anyone who has a passion to help others. I always say a big part of my role is to bring joy, which comes naturally due to my Jamaican roots!” laughs Nichole.
Search ‘Nursing Careers’ for more information or visit: https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/we-are-the-nhs/nursing-careers