Clare Walters became a Divisional Nurse at Aneurin Bevan Local Health Board in Wales in 2010. She has 20 years' experience as a theatre nurse and since 2004 has held a range of senior nursing roles in scheduled care, surgical care and critical care at the health board.

Clare qualified as a nurse at St Bartholomew's School of Nursing in 1988 and completed a degree in professional practice at the University of Glamorgan in 2004. She also has a postgraduate certificate in education.

Building on practical experience

For Clare, taking part in GenerationQ is an opportunity to build on her practical experience of leading quality improvement and change projects. 'GenerationQ appealed to me because it takes a strong academic approach to both leadership and quality improvement. I chose the programme because it would give me the theoretical knowledge I'm looking for, but also allow me to immediately apply that theory to my working practices.'

She adds that she's particularly looking forward to working alongside peers and the GenerationQ coaches. 'The Welsh health care system is different to others across the UK, so it'll be valuable for me to see how people do things elsewhere. I think the action learning set format will provide a safe environment where we all feel able to challenge one another’s views and approaches, and to accept that challenge from others.'

Helping staff to develop resilience

One area that Clare is interested in exploring is how leaders can support nursing staff to develop greater resilience. 'It's essential that nurses are fully engaged in quality and playing an active role in driving improvement initiatives 'from the bottom up'. But it can be very difficult for nurses to stay focused on quality when financial pressures are being felt across their organisation.

'There's also the pressure of coping with almost constant media criticism about patient safety and quality issues, which put across a strong message that nurses don't care for their patients. Nurses need to have an enormous amount of resilience to work in this context. I want to find ways to help them to develop that resilience, to feel valued for the work they do and to want to be a part of quality improvement.'