To celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, we’ve spoken to some of the fabulous women that work at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust that are inspiring future generations.
Joanne Middleton is the Deputy Chief Nurse at Airedale. Keep reading to find out about Jo’s role, why she started her career as a nurse, and some brilliant advice.
What is your role and how did you get into the field?
I’m the Deputy Chief Nurse. I started nurse training at age 17. I’d been in hospital a lot as a child and always helped the nurses do the evening tea round. I knew I wanted a skill and qualification that was a blend of academia and practical skills so nursing was the obvious choice for me. I love people and feel it’s a real privilege to be in their lives at their most vulnerable time.
How would you describe your role?
My job is to make sure that the care that we give is safe, compassionate and that people have a good experience and good outcomes. This can mean ensuring that staffing levels are safe, learning from when we don’t always get things right, developing training programs for our staff and lots more.
Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman?
I think taking time out for pregnancy can be hard; there’s the physicality and also the challenge of juggling work and children. The best thing about nursing though, is the flexibility that it provides to be able to work around childcare. I know a lot of women in leadership positions and working in the NHS takes a lot of team work. My experience is that everyone is respected. The role has made me strong and resilient. My main focus has always been to do what’s right for patients, which is empowering and inspires you to achieve and progress.
Who are the women that have inspired you?
My twin sister inspires me every day. She is a head teacher at a special school and is the strongest advocate for those children. She never settles for second best for them and works with her team to achieve her goals.
How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?
I think we should all lift each other up and be supportive and encouraging – equally I expect to be called out when I haven’t got things right.
What is the most powerful advice that you’ve been given?
Two pieces of advice: always think about what it’s like to be on the receiving end of you, and the second piece although not given to me directly ‘when they go low you go high’. It’s so important to model good behaviour and not compromise your values or integrity.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would that be?
Be strong and determined – you can achieve anything (and always be kind!).
What is the most important message that you would send to young women thinking about their careers?
With hard work and determination you can literally achieve anything even if at the time you don’t believe you can. Surround yourself with people you can trust, who have integrity and will listen and give you honest advice and support. Believe you can and you are halfway there.