If you need information in another format from our website please contact us by email: janet.hall@nipec.hscni.net or enquiries@nipec.hscni.net or phone us on 0300 300 0066.

Head of Professional Development, RCN Northern Ireland

Leadership & Management
Career Pathway

Career Directions

  • Education

Area of Practice

  • Adult Nursing
  • Children's Nursing
  • Mental Health Nursing
  • Learning Disability Nursing
  • Public Health Nursing


  • Regional Public or Professional Body

Job/Role Summary

  • Developing professional services to RCN members by managing the activities, finances and staffing of the professional development department; this includes the conference unit, library and the RCN Institute.
  • The Head of Professional Development is responsible for leading the RCN's strategic plan in NI for life-long learning, research, practice development and library and information services.
  • The role involves creating strategic alliances and collaborating with health and social care providers to promote learning and reaching opportunities for professional development.


Specific qualifications and experience required

  • Degree in nursing, education or a related subject
  • Professional nursing qualification recorded on the live NMC register
  • Evidence of continuing professional development
  • Up to 3 years in the last 5 of managing at senior level in an educational/ practice development function
  • Up to one year's experience in the last 3 years of being a member of a Senior Management Board or Board of Directors
  • A track record of being able to manage change processes and being able to manage change effectively
  • A track record in developing professional nursing either by contributing to its knowledge base, policy formulation, implementation, education and change in nursing practice
  • Experience of working with professional groups at regional level
  • In-depth knowledge of nursing from a political policy and professional perspective
  • Demonstrable knowledge and understanding of relevant legislative and decision-making frameworks and current changes within nursing and health care
  • The ability to think strategically, analyse and distil complex issues and write clearly for different audiences
  • Diplomacy and sensitivity, with personal confidence and gravitas necessary to work at the most senior level
  • Ability to manage multiple agendas simultaneously and evidence of effective prioritization
  • Well developed leadership skills
  • Regional or national reputation in nursing and professional circles
  • Setting strategic, organizational and operational objectives
  • The ability to manage a budget effectively
  • Demonstrate cultural sensitivity and understanding of equal opportunities and diversity issues
  • Ability to travel extensively within UK and Ireland including overnight stays
  • Current driving licence and access to personal transport
  • A commitment to the ethos of a democratic organization.


Career Milestones

Working as a Nursing Officer in DHSSPS had a significant impact on my personal and professional development. Professionally, the job included working across NI and liaising with colleagues in England, Scotland and Wales and the Republic of Ireland. This was a fantastic opportunity to widen my horizons, to influence policy especially in public health and community nursing - and to learn that the difficulties of policy implementation are often experienced in very similar ways across the UK and Ireland. As part of the Department, you have to take responsibility for government decisions that may be disliked by your colleagues, so personally I would say to a certain extent that I toughened up during these five years. Implementing independent and supplementary nurse prescribing was a major programme that had a significant impact on my personal and professional development. The project contained a number of challenges including overcoming resistance, bringing together different interest groups, and resolving conflict. These skills are invaluable in nearly any situation where you are leading change. I tend to prefer big picture to detail, and this became a lesson in valuing people who are good at detail and process. Above all, it showed me how, with an excellent colleague (project officer) you can both pull together to achieve more than twice as much! The Institute of Public Health in Ireland a Leadership Programme was a fantastic experience finding out honestly about yourself is the best way to learn to work with other people. And working with other people is the way to make things happen.


What attracted you to this job?

Genuine belief in nursing and passion for professional development for nurses. Strong attraction to working for a membership organisation. Opportunity to gain greater experience in management. Attraction to UK aspect of the work (broader than Northern Ireland). Brought together previous experiences as nurse, teacher and policy maker. Excellent terms and conditions.


Enjoyable aspects of the job/role

  • Offering nurses the chance to develop professionally and being part of an organization that works to support nurses
  • Leading and managing an excellent and committed team
  • Working with and for frontline nurses, as well as with RCN colleagues across the UK to deliver and develop an excellent service that we all genuinely believe in.


Important success factors

I am genuinely interested in people and enjoy encouraging and nurturing those who, in my view, have the potential to lead nursing in the future, as well as those who continue to do the most important work of all at the bedside, or in people's homes and communities. I like to look 3-5 years ahead and to see a picture of how the world, including the world of nursing and health care, should be. I like to network, to bring people together, and I am a completer-finisher


Advice for those considering the type of job/role?

If you are prepared to work hard and if you genuinely believe in nursing, then go for it! Working across different organizations, before entering a job like this, helps you to understand where people are coming from and you learn to become adaptable, which is perhaps the most important characteristic for anyone who works in an organization that needs to be responsive. You need to have drive and you should be able to think in imaginative ways about how nurses can be helped to develop and grow.


Key skills that can be gained within this job/role?

  • New ways of working - recognising that, in a membership organization, members lead the way and staff are there to support members
  • Working with others, finding ways to listen to members' professional development needs and work with members to develop a variety of ways to meet these
  • leading a team of people who have complementary skills and interests


Share this page