Thursday 20th June 2013
Liz Henderson, Network Nurse Director and Macmillan Survivorship Programme Lead, tells us about being a Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing.
A Fellowship is the highest endorsement that the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) can bestow on a nurse and is given to professionals who have made an exceptional contribution to nursing. In 2011, the RCN awarded Liz Henderson, Nurse Director at the Northern Ireland Cancer Network (NICAN) and Macmillan Cancer Survivorship Programme Lead, the Fellowship for exceptional leadership and the strategic development of cancer nursing services in Northern Ireland.
The Fellowship was, in fact, one of a string of honours Liz has received, along with an OBE in 2010 for services to healthcare and, in 2012, an RCN Outstanding Achievement Award for exemplary leadership of, and contribution to, cancer nursing in Northern Ireland.
Liz sees these recognitions as ‘a door-opener when it comes to trying to influence change’. Service and practice development has been the main motivation for Liz since she worked in oncology nursing at the Royal Marsden in the 1980s. ‘Where you have nurses with a passion for development,’ she says, ‘you can achieve so much.’
Leadership and practice development
Among Liz’s achievements is her facilitation of practice development (PD) which began when she helped to establish and then participated in a PD programme between St James Hospital, Dublin and Belfast Cancer Centre. Subsequently, she led a two-year PD programme for cancer and palliative care clinical nurse specialists, facilitating a range of activities that helped participants:
- develop a sense of the values and beliefs that guided their role and their work
- understand the culture and context of their workplace1
- support the development of a person-centred, inquiring culture that integrates research, practice development and clinical leadership.2
‘The outcomes of the project included the development of leadership skills and knowledge among the clinical nurse specialists (CNS), as well as fresh insights into, and confidence in, their nursing expertise and the unique contribution of the CNS role,’ Liz says.
‘Taking time to engage in active learning through critical reflection and problem solving, and seeing practitioners take responsibility for developing their practice, is such a worthwhile activity because it results not only in personal and professional growth, but also in improved person-centred care.’
Liz has published a number of significant research-based papers about strategic leadership in cancer nursing.3,4 She has presented research papers as far afield as Italy and Australia and is currently a reviewer for the journal Cancer Nursing Practice.
‘When the RCN awarded me the Fellowship, it was partly for publications that went on to influence services in Northern Ireland and abroad,’ Liz says. As Nurse Director of NICAN, Liz draws on PD knowledge and skill to encourage people across cancer services in Northern Ireland to adopt a person-centred approach. This attitude is also core to her approach towards cancer survivorship, an area in which she is leading for Macmillan.
Email Liz Henderson.
1. McCormack B, Henderson L, Wilson V and Wright J. The Workplace Culture Critical Analysis Tool. Practice Development in Health Care. 2009. 8(1) 28–43.
2. Henderson E. Critical Creativity in the development of clinical nurse specialists practice. Revealing Nursing Expertise through Practitioner Inquiry. Blackwell Publishing. 2009.
3. Using Practice Development Approaches in the Development of a Managed Clinical Network. International Practice Development in Nursing and Healthcare. Blackwell, Oxford. 2008.
4. Developing a strategic framework for cancer nursing research. European Journal of Oncology Nursing. 2004. 8(3): 262–265