Joan Myers OBE is one of the UK’s leading children’s nursing experts and a BAME pioneer
I decided I wanted to be a nurse when my mother gave me a nurse’s uniform as a Christmas present when I was three years old. I specialised as a paediatric nurse and worked in a hospital for five years before moving into the community to provide nursing care to children in their home.
I helped to set up and develop several community children’s nursing teams in different parts of London and I became the first and only nurse consultant for community children nursing in 2003. In this role, I set up the first nurse-led eczema clinic in Islington so children would not have to wait for several months to see a dermatologist. I would see them in the clinic and prescribe their treatment and care.
It’s important to be sitting round the table where decisions are made so that we can influence change positively for BME people. For example, as the only BME person on the Panel for NICE (National Institute for Clinical Health Effectiveness) guidelines for Eczema, I was able to influence the recognition in the guidelines the fact that children and young people from African, Asian or Caribbean backgrounds are likely to present with their skin conditions differently to Caucasians.
BME staff are underrepresented in senior positions in the NHS and many BME staff are overlooked for promotion and evidence of discrimination. Being seconded to the Department of Health as an advisor to the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) for England between 2009 and 2011, I was instrumental in ensuring issues pertaining to BME staff and patients were raised and dealt with. In this role, I led the review of Mary Seacole Scholarship Awards, which offer mentorship and development to BME nurses. And between June 2012 and March 2017, I chaired the CNO BME Strategic Advisory Group, which meant I was able to represent and ensure the voices of BME staff and patients are heard in the NHS.
In the Queen’s Birthday honours list in 2013, I was privileged to receive an OBE for services to children and nursing. I was recently promoted as Associate Director for Health Services and Chief Nurse at Achieving for Children in Kingston & Richmond.
I believe my strong faith and trust in God has helped me to overcome challenges in life. I have a positive outlook on life and love to support others.
It’s important to leave a legacy. In 2010, I set up a charity called Rehoboth Children’s Home in Nakuru, Kenya where 25 vulnerable and poor children and their families are fed and the children are given a school sponsorship. My ultimate goal and vision is to have a school, home, church & health centre in the village.
My advice is to be persistent, insistent and consistent in your approach, never give up and you will achieve your goal. I have found having a good coach helps to support you. What’s stopping you? Get up, step up and move up into that position you desire.
- Associate Director for Health Services and Chief Nurse, Achieving for Children
- Chair, Chief Nursing Officer BME Strategic Advisory Group
- Nurse consultant for children and young people, NELFT NHS Foundation Trust
- Head of Children’s Service, Whittington Health
- Founder, Rehoboth Children’s Home