Reflecting back and looking to the future…

Theresa Shaw, FoNS Chief Executive

Dr Theresa Shaw (NursD, BA (Hons), RNT, RN - Associate Facilitator

Many of you will know that after a great deal of thought I have taken the decision to step down from the role of Chief Executive. With the post advertised, I have been reflecting back on my time and FoNS and thinking about FoNS’s future.

In 1998, I remember seeing the advert for the role of Professional Officer at FoNS. Although I had seen some of FoNS’ publications, I knew little of the organisation. Reading about the role and work, I was struck by the objectives of the charity and the UK wide remit. The objectives and role spoke to many of the things that then and now remain close to my heart; the promotion of nursing as a profession and the use and spread of practice-based nursing research to improve the care that people receive. The opportunity to work at a national level was exciting!

I remember very clearly attending an informal afternoon, led by the then Director and Vice Chair. At that time, FoNS resided in a basement office in Buckingham Palace Road, London. Whilst the work seemed (was) amazing and well regarded, I know they were keen that applicants see where they might be working – after all this was a small charity with limited resources that needed to be used to realise the charity’s objectives. I was thrilled to be appointed, finding out a little later I was one of over 90 applicants. Whilst I never really intended to stay, the nature of the work grabbed me in such a way that over time, it became harder to see how anything else could be better – so fast forward 20 plus years and here I am!

When I was appointed Chief Executive in 2003, it quickly became evident that we were going to experience a more turbulent time with difficult decisions to be made. There is no doubt in my mind that the changes made did enable the organisation to not only survive but, in the longer-term, flourish. Being disciplined with our resources taught us all a great deal, not just in terms of financial management but in terms of learning new skills that avoided the need for costly support services. The Chief Executive role, as in many smaller charities, has to encompass a range of roles, I am still amused by the cold calls we receive asking for the Head of HR or IT etc!

I should say at this point, that one of the things that has been a great joy for me in the role is continuing to contribute to FoNS Practice Development activities and lead work as a facilitator. Going forward, this is certainly something for the new post holder to consider not least because I can see the value it has for keeping connected with contemporary practice and the issues nurses in particular face. This said, I have always encouraged openness to explore new ways of working and thinking; the job description and person specification have taken account of this – ultimately the Chair and Trustees want the very best person for the job.Today FoNS is thriving, the impact of the work across health and social care services is evident for all to see. This is not achieved by chance but enabled by a fabulous team who are genuinely committed to the objectives of the charity and organisation. The FoNS Board of Trustees are a very experienced and strong unit, much of that strengthened by our outgoing Chair Professor Tony Butterworth, CBE. We are now equally fortunate to have an excellent new Chair, Professor David Foster OBE, who is very highly regarded and brings a wealth of experience.

I am excited to see who will take over the reins of this wonderful organisation. I have said in several other arenas that my time has been a privilege and I leave knowing that FoNS can only go from strength to strength.

Comments are closed.