Michelle Cudjoe is the Head of Midwifery and Divisional Chief Nurse for the Women and Children’s Division at East Surrey hospital, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust in England. In this blog, she talks about her journey as a midwife and the diverse roles that she has held over the course of the last 23 years.
I have been the Head of Midwifery and Divisional Chief Nurse for the Women and Children’s Division at East Surrey hospital, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust in England, for nearly eight years. I am incredibly proud to be leading a maternity service that has been rated as Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission.
I have been a registered nurse and midwife for more than 23 years. During my nurse training I undertook a short midwifery placement and from the very first day, I knew that I wanted to become a midwife. The ethos of midwifery care, as well as the diversity of the role appealed to me. Shortly after qualifying as a nurse, I undertook an 18-month BSc Hons in Midwifery and subsequently worked as a midwife in all areas of midwifery practice.
Whist working as a Labour Ward coordinator I developed an interest in clinical governance and risk management. At that time, there was an emphasis on changing the culture from one of blame to a culture of learning in the NHS. I was excited by this opportunity and motivated to do more, and so undertook a post-graduate Diploma in Clinical Risk Management, after which I became a Divisional Risk and Governance lead.
In my current role as Head of Midwifery/Divisional Chief nurse and throughout my career, I have had the privilege of working with many inspirational leaders, some of whom have not always been in conventional leadership roles. In my role as a clinical leader, it has always been, and continues to be important that I am visible and approachable. I believe that these are key leadership qualities. People want to feel valued and to have a sense of connection so it is important for leaders to take time to create those connections. During my training, I was asked to reflect on the question: “What is it like to be at the receiving end of me?” That moment of reflection has stayed with me and has helped me through my journey as a leader, ensuring that compassion and kindness are not only my core values, but they are the driving forces behind the care I provide.
If I had to give some advice to aspiring leaders, it would be…
- Doing the right thing isn’t always the easiest thing- so be true to your core values and listen to your heart as much as your head.
- The whole is greater than the sum of its parts – listening to, engaging with and working in partnership with your team fosters a culture of trust which has many benefits.