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Developing your UK Nursing Career: Being a Band 7

For the past few months, we have been sharing stories of our fellow Filipino Nurses on various specialisms. This week, we would like to inspire and share how you can move up the ladder. Meet Anna, a Band 7, a Charge NICU Nurse, in one of the NHS Trusts in London. She shares how she got the role, skills & knowledge she had to acquire and her future aspirations.

I am Anna. I am currently working as a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Charge Nurse in one of the NHS Trusts in London. The first time I set foot in this country was November 2000. I started with elderly care then moved to neonatal unit in August 2002. It was a big move from caring for the elderly to the new-born. But it was all worth it.

As a Band 7, I am responsible for the effective and efficient operational management of the unit including budget control, clinical governance, staff development and training.

How did you get the role? What made you apply for this role?

In our trust, for you to apply into a Band 7 position, you should have completed a management training course and have the experience of being in-charge of the unit for at least 2 years. After years of being a staff nurse in NICU, I started to crave for new challenges. I realised that for me to grow, I had to seek for more development opportunities. When the opportunity came up, I decided to apply for the Band 7 post.

What is unique about your current role?

As a Charge Nurse, I now have a bigger scope/responsibility. My role goes beyond patient care and it requires me to lead a multi-disciplinary team. As a Nurse Lead, I have to act as a professional & engaging leader. I also need to act as a role model to the staff and act as an advocate of continuous development. Our roles as NICU nurses require us to continuously learn and be up to date with our knowledge & skills.

What are the challenges you are facing in your current role?

Managing a busy unit can be a challenge. So many things can happen. Sometimes Plan A and Plan B are not enough. You need to be resilient and continuously plan & act to these changes.

As a Charge nurse, I also need to know how to deal with different individuals, with varying skills, capabilities and personalities. This can be a challenge especially during this pandemic where we have more absences and morale of the team is low.

Pressure on beds is another challenge. Since we are a Level 3 unit, we receive referrals from our network and other Trusts. As a charge nurse, I need to make sure we always have available beds for these speciality referrals.

What’s next for you?

After Band 7, you have a lot of options to progress in your career. You can be a Clinical nurse specialist or a nurse practitioner. Now, I am doing 75% management/office days and 25% clinical. I have also been given more management responsibilities such as working on staffing and weekly nursing manpower requirements. This year, I am also expected to be involved in the recruitment activities of the unit.

Are there any skills a nurse needs to have or courses they need to take before they can apply for band 7?

Once you started in a charge role, being involved in a project is a plus when you are going for a Band 7 role. There are a number of projects that can be available such as infection control, clinical governance and the like. In my case, I joined the neonatal cardiac group and now, I am leading it with another band 7 nurse.

In our unit, you need to be ITU trained. You should have completed your NICU course. A management course is also needed too as it can prepare you for a Band 7 post.

Having people management or supervisory experience is also a great advantage.

There are also other skills needed to be a successful Charge Nurse such as being resilient, flexible and understanding high quality patient care.

Do you have any tips for other junior nurses who aspire to grow their career?

Be proactive. Do not wait for someone to tell you to do things. Get involved with projects in your area. There are development opportunities available—you just need to find & grab them. You can either participate in the audit group or infection control group. Ask if there are any study days available and grab every opportunity to learn.

Do your job as best as you can and do it for your patients not for the big bosses. Do not work hard just to impress but work with your heart. Time will come, you will be rewarded accordingly.


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