• 09 July 2020
  • 13 min read

Tips And Help For BAME Nurses Looking To Advance Their Career

  • Maxine Obeng
    Operational Manager
    • Mat Martin
    • Aubrey Hollebon
    • Matt Farrah
    • Beaulah Chizimba
    • Richard Gill
    • Kehinde Lewis
    • Janet Mensah
    • Nathalie McPherson
    • Sibonokuhle Phiri
  • 5
  • 1824
"I have made it my personal pledge to support BAME staff with their career aspirations and have been doing so for most of my senior nursing career."

Having progressed through the NHS bandings, Band 8 Nurse, Maxine, offers a variety of career tips tailored towards BAME Nurses. Understanding your own vulnerabilities can really help you progress.

Topics covered in this article

Why BAME Nurses Need Specialist Career Guidance

Job Interview Help For BAME Nurses

Application Writing Tips For BAME Nurses

Presentation Skills: Preparing To Face The Panel

How To Decide Between Clinical, Operational Or Leadership Career Pathways

Why I Launched A Careers Consultancy For BAME Nurses

Why BAME Nurses Need Specialist Career Guidance

The NHS is a phenomenal institution, a great place to work and many including myself, hold a deep sense of pride to belong within it.

It has afforded me a great career and the luxury to go off and have two beautiful children knowing that my job would still be there upon my return.

It’s bureaucracy-ridden, held together by red tape and has an unwavering obsession with hierarchical structures.

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But non the less, the NHS is a place that has the capability to truly nurture individuals, afford them opportunities to develop themselves and make a significant impact on people’s lives.

For BAME people we must continue to understand our vulnerabilities, the options available to us and develop continued resilience through a good network of support, both professionally and personally.

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Admittedly any process of sustainable change is going to require time, focused and purposeful work in order to achieve the significant cultural transformation so needed.

Below are some of my tips on navigating your career journey as a BAME nurse.

I end by explaining my new venture - a specialist consultancy for BAME nurses.

Job Interview Help For BAME Nurses

The art of interviewing is a skill which unfortunately many great nurses with great leadership qualities are yet to acquire.

1) Research your organisation!

Get to know them!

What are their values?

Aims?

Mission statement?

What does the organisation stand for?

What is their direction of focus for your directorate?

What things are they excited about and want to do more of?

This will give your answers depth, and who knows they may even ask you how you plan to role model their values!

2) Always contact the recruiting manager before the interview.

Contact details for an informal discussion or visit are on almost every application but you’d be surprised how many people don’t do this.

Use this offer!

Have some questions prepared to ask.

Your recruiting manager will tell you all you want to know.

If its a senior position try and go and meet some of their team.

Request to attend their managers meeting or meet with the managers individually , this will give you a great opportunity to:

a) Meet the team you may be in/managing and

b) Give you a great insight and understanding into the teams dynamics, what their challenges are and how they problem solve.

Remember this process is just as much about them selling themselves to you as it is about you selling yourself to them!

3) If you have made a decision to go and meet panel member(s) and team before the interview, make sure you go with a set of questions prepared, questions that are going to really help you understand the role you are going into.

So that when you are answering your interview questions you are able to answer them informed, understanding what challenges they are currently facing and understanding what direction they want their teams to go forward towards.

Also this is a great way to get rid of those interview nerves because by meeting or speaking with a member(s) of the panel beforehand you would have got those first impression jitters out of the way.

Meaning on your interview day you can just get on with being your true confident self.

4) Have two questions prepared to ask the panel at the end of your interview.

This shows the panel you have given good consideration to the post.

Application Writing Tips For BAME Nurses

It is important to give yourself dedicated, ample time to writing an application form.

In my experience it is better to not submit at all, than to submit an application which is rushed, riddled in grammatical errors and is not representative of your fantastic talents.

So that is, not leaving applications till the night before.

Shortlisters and recruiting managers can tell when an application is rushed, and not thought through.

It can make you appear flaky and that you don’t have good time management.

Give yourself enough time to go back to the application at least two or three times before the final submission.

It is important to also ensure that you have read the job advert, the job description and person specification before making the decision to apply for the job.

This is vitally important as here the employer is explicitly letting you know what kind of candidate they are looking for, what crucial skills they want the candidate to have and also what their main priorities are for the candidate and service.

These documents are fundamental to ensuring your application is informed and relevant.

Don’t be put off if there are one or two essential skills in the person specification that you do not have, instead you can make reference to how you intend to overcome or achieve this when appointed - this may or may not be a deal breaker for your employer.

Make sure your application form is relevant to the post you are applying for.

For recruiting managers and shortlisters there is nothing more off putting than an applicant who is not sure of what job they are applying for.

Easy wins are stating at the beginning of your supporting statement something as brief as; I am pleased to have the opportunity to apply for [insert position and tittle] and have summarized below the three main reasons why I believe I should be shortlisted.

Straight away you have engaged the recruiting manager by showing that you have read the supporting documents and your statement is going to be focused and relevant.

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What do YOU think?

Let me know your thoughts in the Comments & click Like!

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Your supporting statement is your time to shine!

Use this space to showcase your knowledge and passions, and emphasise your transferrable skills and desirable skills as it relates to the JD and person specification.

Think what have I done that makes me suitable for this role?

What can I bring to this role that means I am going to excel in it?

But also, what might I need to work on to make sure that I continue to thrive in this role?

This shows the recruiter that you have really thought about the role and that you understand some of your own shortcomings and have solutions to how you are going to overcome these.

Write your supporting statement in a word document before copying and pasting into the application form.

Many BAME nurses stay in their existing roles for long periods of time, so you may not have written a supporting statement for some time.

Have a friend or colleague read over this for you, ask them for their honest feedback with amendments.

Presentation Skills: Preparing To Face The Panel

Getting ready for any presentation may seem nerve racking and worrisome.

But for an interview, a presentation can actually be a good ice breaker; it gets you talking confidently about something you have had the time to prepare for (that is unless it’s an unseen presentation!).

Most of these tend to be for a set, relatively short amount of time, usually 10- 15 minutes.

It is crucial to stick to the allotted time you have been given to present.

Your panel will not like you going over and may even stop you when your time is up even if you have not completed your presentation.

You want to spend a good amount of time preparing for your presentation.

For most BAME nurses English may not be your first language so the idea of presenting may be daunting, but practice makes perfect!

Practice on a friend, colleague or family member and time yourself doing so.

The key thing here is how you present yourself, so you want to know your presentation thoroughly so that you can present this confidently and with purpose.

The panel wants to see how you are at engaging them and keeping their attention.

In my experience I like to practice on a colleague to sense check my content, then I like to practice on someone who is not in nursing to check whether I can engage and keep their interest.

Order of your presentation is vitally important!

Set the scope of what your presentation will cover, present the information and identifying challenges + solutions!

Your presentation needs to be brief but focused.

At the end of your presentation ask them if they have any questions for you!

That shows the panel that you are confident and an expert on your topic.

How To Decide Between Clinical, Operational Or Leadership Career Pathways

It may come as a surprise to you but the nursing career pathway is not just about banding.

All the nursing pathways have an underlying focus on patient care and safety.

There are some really great opportunities to explore and understand what kind of nurse you want to be in order to fully maximise the potential of your skills and passions.

The clinical pathway focuses on quality of patient care, raising quality standards, QI focused, clinical leadership and service user experience focused.

These roles include, Modern Matron, Nurse Consultant, Specialist Nurse, Lead Nurse, Director of Nursing.

The operational pathway focusses on operational responsibilities and operational leadership, developing and improving patient pathways, reviewing and developing operational policies and accreditation of services.

These roles include, Operational manager, Service manager, Assistant director, Director of services.

There are certainly overlapping skills in all of these pathways, and nurse leadership runs through all these pathways.

You may have a passion for transformation work, partnership working and shy away from the idea of ‘managing’ a team.

Roles in organizational development, nurse educator and Clinical research nurse may be of interest.

At different stages in your career you may also want to take side way step to broaden your skill set.

If you feel you have and can evidence that you have the skills, experience and knowledge don’t be restricted by banding.

Why I Launched A Careers Consultancy For BAME Nurses

The idea of niche careers consultancy came about due to my own positive experience of being mentored in this way.

I have worked with some amazing leaders who have mentored and nurtured my career ambitions.

Seeing the impact that this has made, I have made it my personal pledge to support BAME staff with their career aspirations and have been doing so for most of my senior nursing career.

As a nurse leader my role over the years has included being a recruiting manager, developing job roles, JDs/person specs, shortlisting applicants, developing interview questions and chairing interview panels.

What I hope to achieve with Niche careers Consultancy is to provide BAME nurses the practical skills required to navigate the healthcare career pathway.

Using coaching and mentoring BAME nurses will be offered:

1. Consulting on career pathways

Making the decision between clinical, operational or leadership pathways

2. Interview coaching

Using reflection and introspection to become an expert on the topic of you, applying the concept of conversational interviewing.

3. Application writing

Emphasising your desirable skill, understanding how to use a Job Description and Person spec in order to identify the transferable skills your future employer requires you to have.

4. Interview preparedness

Identifying who the key stakeholders you need to engage in order to excel in this role, and understanding your panel and what their key interests in your role would be.

5. Presentation skills

How to keep your panel engage, understanding the value of different types of information, using your presentation to show your personality, your employer wants to see how you command an audience and keep their interest.

Tips on preparing for the ‘unseen presentation’!

Follow me on my social channels to find out more about Niche Careers Consultancy.

LinkedIn

Twitter

Instagram

Let me know in the comments your thoughts on the tips and advice I've given - let's chat there!

Oh, and please Like this article to let me know you enjoyed it - thank you!

About the author

  • Maxine Obeng
    Operational Manager

I’m a registered Mental Health nurse, MSc, and a Senior NHS manager. With over 10 years experience in mental health care, I’ve managed a variety of services including Forensic specialist mental health, and a Psychiatric Intensive care unit. My passion is improving the representation of diversity in healthcare leadership. I have founded Niche Careers Consultancy to help BAME Nurses with targeted consulting on navigating career pathways and practical skills to achieve career progression success.

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  • Maxine Obeng
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About the author

  • Maxine Obeng
    Operational Manager

I’m a registered Mental Health nurse, MSc, and a Senior NHS manager. With over 10 years experience in mental health care, I’ve managed a variety of services including Forensic specialist mental health, and a Psychiatric Intensive care unit. My passion is improving the representation of diversity in healthcare leadership. I have founded Niche Careers Consultancy to help BAME Nurses with targeted consulting on navigating career pathways and practical skills to achieve career progression success.

  • 5 Comments
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    • C Ogbuagu 3 months ago
      C Ogbuagu
    • C Ogbuagu
      3 months ago

      A really good article, Maxine. I think this is useful advice for many healthcare professionals. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and ... read more

      • Thank you C. I'm so glad to hear it may be of help other healthcare professionals too. Feel free to share with others who you think may benefit :-)

        Replied by: Maxine Obeng
    • Maxine Obeng 3 months ago
      Maxine Obeng
    • Maxine Obeng
      3 months ago

      Thank you Elizabeth Ogunsemo , Unfortunately I cannot see the rest of your comment. But I am glad you are feeling ... read more

    • Sibonokuhle Phiri 3 months ago
      Sibonokuhle Phiri
    • Sibonokuhle Phiri
      3 months ago

      Very informative....and great advice on nursing career pathways. We tend to think nursing is just bed side yet its way ... read more

      • Thank you Sibonokuhle I completely agree with you. Nursing really has evolved and we have to evolve with it or risk being left behind😅

        Replied by: Maxine Obeng
    • Janet Mensah 3 months ago
      Janet Mensah
    • Janet Mensah
      3 months ago

      Love how you have started a consultancy business- well done!

      • Thank you Janet. Tbh I felt an overwhelming pull to do something given the state of the world! Even if just a little to help😃

        Replied by: Maxine Obeng
    • Beaulah Chizimba 3 months ago
      Beaulah Chizimba
    • Beaulah Chizimba
      3 months ago

      Great article and so comprehensive!

        • Matt Farrah
        • Mat Martin
        • Maxine Obeng
        • Mejury Gaihai
      • Post a reply
      • Thank you Beaulah! That means a lot☺️

        Replied by: Maxine Obeng

        Fantastic write up Maxine very informative and eye opening. Am truly inspired and motivated. Am a clinical nurse lead but am aiming to become a clinical educator/instructor. Have save some of the tips... read more

        Fantastic write up Maxine very informative and eye opening. Am truly inspired and motivated. Am a clinical nurse lead but am aiming to become a clinical educator/instructor. Have save some of the tips you shared. I believe it will help me in my next job interview. 😇Regards
        read less

        Replied by: Elizabeth Ogunsemo