“It is essential for nurses and midwives to voice their concerns…”

…to offer solutions, to be represented and to be seen,” Frances Wood, Director of Studies, Diploma in Tropical Nursing, LSTM. 

For the last six years I have had the privilege of leading the Diploma in Tropical Nursing (DTN) at the prestigious School of Tropical Medicine in Liverpool (LSTM), UK. My previous training and varied life experiences have deeply influenced how I run this course which attracts nurses and midwives from all over the world.

I deliberately chose to be a nurse and I know I made the best decision, as I have spent my life working and walking alongside so many different people; patients in hospital, families in their homes, daily dialogue with colleagues and facilitating student learning. I was fortunate to receive excellent training as a nurse in London and then as a midwife and health visitor in Liverpool. Prior to the midwifery training, I spent some time working as a clinic nurse with the Dinka tribe in Southern Sudan. This experience made a profound impact on me; being welcomed by people living with limited resources and observing such widespread poor health. 

I have spent most of my career working as a community health practitioner alongside some of the poorest communities in the UK. Working for the NHS in areas of deprivation was a challenge. I chose to focus on providing the families I worked with support and encouragement, so that they were able to make the best and most healthy choices for their families.

Being with the DTN students during their time at LSTM and observing their many ‘light bulb’ moments is deeply gratifying. To be part of their journey, to encourage and support them to be effective health workers, is a dream job.The students continually inspire me with their enthusiasm, their passion for what they do and their thirst for knowledge. To share their stories and realise that the ripples from the DTN are global gets me up every morning.

Over the course of my career,  I have learned that it is important to trust myself, to listen to the wisdom of others and to continue to behave in a respectful way. The advice I would give a nurse starting their career is to be true to themselves, to follow what they are passionate about and to always remember to listen first, then speak with awareness. To just hang in there during the tough times, to celebrate the fun moments and of course be friendly to everyone. 

From my personal experience and observation, I think it is important to develop confidence among nurses and midwives, to encourage them to find and use their voices, to be inspiring role models, and to work in creative and smart ways. I know that morale in some places is low, yet by taking responsibility and focusing on what we can do, it is amazing what we can achieve. This is why it is essential for nurses and midwives to voice their concerns, to offer solutions, to be represented and to be seen. Nurses are everywhere and part of everyone’s lives. It is paramount that our profession is visible high up in the political agenda both locally and globally and that our significant contribution to health delivery is actively recognised, appreciated and promoted.

To learn more about the DTN, see here: https://www.lstmed.ac.uk/study/courses/diploma-in-tropical-nursing