Black History Month 2023 - A blog from Chenika Goldson

I am a ward manager for an inpatient Oncology department in Charing Cross hospital. I am also a co-chair for the Nursing and Midwifery race equality network at the trust. I started my nursing career at Hammersmith Hospital, in Imperial Private Healthcare looking after mixed specialities from Cardiology, Cardiothoracic, Surgery and Gynaecology to HPB and Gastro. This was an exciting time because every day was different, and I learnt something new every day.

I had an amazing ward manager who saw my potential and supported me to follow my dreams. I was encouraged to become a specialist in Chemotherapy and although I wasn’t initially sure, after the right support and encouragement, I became a qualified Oncology and Haematology Specialist Nurse and absolutely loved it - I still continue using this qualification, caring for patients and inspiring others until this day.

For as long as I can remember, I have always had a passion for nursing and nurturing people to better health. However, my first career journey started in theatre and performing arts and I still have the same love for entertaining people and making them feel happy.

At a young age, I had to make a difficult decision about my career journey, because I wanted stability and security. With my passion for nursing, I knew I would be able to do what I love along with having the stability of working for the NHS and giving back to those most in need.

Throughout my career, I have faced many challenges due to my age and race as a young, black woman of Caribbean heritage. With the resilience and determination my parents and family instilled in me, I was able to overcome. I learnt to set myself my own goals, I grabbed hold of my own career and guided my learning on a day-to-day basis. I have never been afraid to ask questions or be an active member of the Trust promoting our values daily and being an active bystander for other members of staff.

Part of my current role as a senior member of staff is to encourage all staff, both junior and senior, to reach their full potential. My advice to any member of the Trust would be to recognise your strengths and weakness but do not make them define you; to remember that with nursing the world is your oyster and to remember that with determination and proactivity you can achieve anything.

I would suggest creating a vision board for where you see yourself in one-to-two-year intervals, which can also be used for your PDR appraisals. Seek a coach/mentor that inspires you, possibly someone who looks like you in a senior role within your desired career path. Look after yourselves – take holidays, spend time with family and when YOU think you’re ready for the next step, go for it!

Black history lives in me every day as I am a product of my great ancestry from the Windrush generation 1948 that have paved the way for me to be the woman I am today. However, Black History Month gives an opportunity for unity and encourages people from all walks of life to learn, acknowledge, celebrate and share our inspiring contribution to the world and to the NHS.

The theme for this year, “Saluting our sisters”, means so much to me as an aspiring black career woman. Throughout my life I was encouraged by my family to read and educate myself about our black heroes, heroines and all they have done for us. This includes Rosa Parks (Activist), Mary Seacole (Nurse and Herbalist), Harriett Tubman (Abolitionist and Social Activist), Bessie Coleman (Aviator), Mary Jackson (Mathematician and Rocket Scientist for NASA) and of course my mother and grandmothers to name a few.

Saluting our sisters is a line I would like to promote even after Black History Month because saluting our sisters of any race, background or gender, praising their work and contributions to the Trust should continue to be celebrated, making the Trust a much greater place to work.

In the words of another great heroine, Dr Maya Angelou, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you" and I thank you for reading my story.