Aim This paper reports upon the development, delivery and evaluation of a leadership programme for aspiring Ward Leaders in one National Health Service Trust in England.
Background The ward sister role is fundamental to quality patient care and clinical leadership, however the role is increasingly difficult to recruit to. A lack of formal preparation and skills development for the role has been widely acknowledged.
Method An evaluation of a programme of education for leadership. Three cohorts (n = 60) completed the programme. Semi-structured questionnaires were completed by participants (n = 36: 60%) at the conclusion of the programme. Qualitative data from questionnaires was analysed using a thematic approach.
Results Participants reported increased political, organizational and self-awareness, increased confidence, feelings of empowerment and the ability to empower others. Opportunities for networking with peers were valued within the action learning approach. For some participants, career intentions were clarified through reflection.
Conclusion The majority of participants had benefited from the leadership programme and valued this development as an empowering preparation for future careers.
Implications for nursing management Investment in leadership preparation for future ward sister roles is strongly recommended as part of a strategy designed to enhance quality improvement, career path development, workforce empowerment and retention.