From nurse to clinical commissioner

Diane Jones, chief nurse and director of quality for NHS North West London Collaboration of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), shares her advice for developing your nursing career.

Diane Jones, chief nurse and senior commissioner

Diane Jones is one of only a few black or minority ethnic (BME) nurses in England to hold such a senior position in the NHS, but her career pathway from nurse and midwife to senior commissioner has not always been a smooth one.

After qualifying more than 25 years ago, her first role as a staff nurse was on an orthopaedic ward. But she soon became frustrated by the lack of autonomy for nurses at the time.

‘Doctors had to prescribe everything, from paracetamol to pethidine,’ she says.

After moving into midwifery, Ms Jones went on to become a delivery ward sister, consultant midwife and director of midwifery, where she began working with commissioning managers.

‘Commissioners were setting the tone on key performance indicators, but they were non-clinical and I felt they were focusing on the wrong things,’ she says.

‘Services should be clinically driven. I wanted to learn about commissioning so that I could influence maternity services and deliver the best outcomes for women and families.’

The shift to a commissioning role was not without its challenges, but Ms Jones desire for autonomy and the power to change clinical practice have been the driving force behind her career decisions.

Here are her top tips for nurses and midwives wanting to develop their careers:

  • Seek out opportunities
    They are not going to be handed to you, so make sure you go looking for them
     
  • Identify your goals and make a realistic plan for achieving them
    Try and set two career goals each year, then look at job descriptions, identify the skills and qualifications required and compare these to your own so you can build upon the gaps and skills you are missing
     
  • Learn from every setback
    Learning from mistakes is vital for career progression
     
  • Network beyond your usual circle
    It is important that people know who you are
     
  • Work with a mentor or coach
    It is good to talk to someone who can advise and guide you

Read the full interview with Diane Jones in the Nursing Standard careers section

You can also read more about this year's RCNi Nursing and Careers Jobs Fairs, the first of which takes place on 6 February in Manchester

The original article was written by Michelle Johnson, head of communications and engagement at Brent Clinical Commissioning Group. She is also communications lead for the chief nursing officer's BME strategic advisory group, a radio broadcaster and author.

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