This year is the Year of the Nurse and Midwife and this week has seen the launch at Birmingham’s Percy Shurmer Academy of ‘My Daddy is a Nurse’, a book aimed 4-7 year olds which challenges professional gender stereotypes. Here, Martin Fahy, the Birmingham and Solihull CCG’s Director of Nursing and Quality, reflects on his journey as a male nurse, which started in the late 1980s.
One of my sisters (I have five) was a nurse so nursing and the NHS were well known to me as a teenager. However, I didn’t consider it as a career choice until I failed an important maths exam during my degree.
During the summer of 1988, I came to London to spend time with my older twin sisters, one a maths teacher and one a nurse at Great Ormond Street (GOS) Hospital. The plan was to get some free tuition from the maths teacher but I was already having second thoughts about what my future career would be, I had been working in London in a builders yard at the time.
My dad, acting as all fathers do, caught wind of my intention and made plans to visit me in London and “sort out” the situation! My sister (the GOS nurse) asked why didn’t I consider applying for nursing (a plan which would appease my father) and I could always ditch the idea once dad had safely returned to Ireland! GOS used Leicester for their mental health placements and all of my sister’s friends told me what a great place it was (the social life being very important to a 19 years old).
Consequently, I applied to do mental health nursing at the Charles Frears School of Nursing and got on the course within 10 days! I was part of the Project 2000 cohort (the school was not affiliated with the university so not a degree or diploma course) and three years later, finished the course as a Registered Mental Health Nurse. I found the course interesting and challenging and the social life lived up to its reputation!
My early career was spent in inpatients units working with people with challenging behaviour and complex mental health problems. This fuelled my passion with working with people with psychoses as an area of special interest. Later in my career I established the first early intervention in psychosis service in Leicestershire.
I’m very proud of the support the NHS has given me, especially around education and continuing professional development. I was financially supported and given time to study for a BA in Health Studies at De Montford University and then later to complete my Masters in Applied Medical Science at Sheffield, in which I specialised in psychosocial interventions for people with psychosis.
I’m fortunate enough to have had a thirty-year career within the NHS which has culminated in my role as the director of nursing in Birmingham and Solihull CCG, the largest CCG in England.
I have accumulated experience within a variety of areas across provider and commissioning ranging from adult mental health, forensic, community, long term care, primary care, psychiatric intensive care units, high dependency, emergency departments, children and young people services and early intervention in psychosis services.
More recently I have been working in regional and CCG roles with executive responsible for the commissioning of health care services including mental health, acute, primary care, community, learning disabilities and children’s services.
These career/developmental opportunities have allowed me to accumulate a wide breadth of knowledge and skills in systems management, spanning from in-patient care provision, community, primary and secondary care settings.
I’m very glad I took my sister’s sage advice all those years ago. Leicester was a great place to study, mental health nursing is rewarding and satisfying and the NHS is a great place to work!