Champion the nurse voice at FSRH Council
Date: 23 Feb 2022
Author: Julie Gallagher
Julie Gallagher, Matron SRH, outlines her career journey and her experience of being a co-opted nurse at FSRH Council.
I have had the privilege of being a nursing voice on FSRH Council for the past four years. With my tenure now coming to an end, why should you do it?
I am currently the matron for a large contraception/sexual health and HIV service in the North West. While my role is predominantly operational and management focussed, I am fortunate to be able to continue to work clinically. This is something I feel is essential in demonstrating nursing leadership and ensuring an understanding of the issues faced by SRH nurses.
The first time I sat around the table at my first FSRH Council meeting was terrifying. How had I found my way here? What if they ask me something I have no clue about?
All normal responses you might think. However I regularly sat in meetings in the large NHS Trust I work for and was happy to address an audience without too much concern. Whether it was the magnificent surroundings or the fact I was the only nurse there I don’t know, but nervous I was.
This was to be short lived. I could have not been made to feel more welcome from the FSRH Council members I met. Although it is important to recognise that one nurse cannot speak for all nurses, I definitely felt part of the team, with my voice heard, from the outset.
My role at Council was to champion the important role and membership of the nurse profession at FSRH, providing nurse leadership across FSRH’s work. At Council meetings, I inputted into FSRH education, services and policies to help best support nurses working in SRH.
Council meetings take place three times a year and you can attend these in-person or remotely. They are usually a half-day but fly by because you are:
- involved in discussions on matters you care passionately about
- part of shaping the future of SRH
- representing and advocating for nurses working within SRH
- listened to
- networking with service leaders from across the UK, sharing the good, the bad and the ugly
- constantly learning
- contributing at the highest level in your specialty.
As a nurse member, I was able to ensure the nurse voice on SRH was heard at a national level. It enabled me to expand my professional connections and get to know a range of senior and influential colleagues within SRH. I was able to challenge myself, step outside of my comfort zone and learn new things which then enhanced my performance in my day-to-day nursing role.
I would encourage any experienced nurse working in SRH to really consider applying for this role. You will gain so much from doing so!