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Black History Month Community Spotlight - Joan Dyer

With thanks to Joan Dyer and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust for sharing this story with Walsall for All.

Joan’s #WalsallandProud to be a Matron

She was only seven years old and watching medical soap opera General Hospital on TV when Joan Dyer turned to her mum and said: “That’s what I want to do.”

Joan knew she wanted to go into nursing as a career and had some experience of caring for others due to her mum’s ill health. At one point the family GP, who Joan has built up a good relationship with, had told her mum: “She’s going to be a Matron.” And how true those words were to become!

When Joan turned 18 she weighed up two career choices; nursing and the police and had to decide which application she was going to see through. Nursing won and Joan was accepted at East Birmingham Hospital as it was at the time – it’s now the Queen Elizabeth Hospital – to do her training.

Joan enjoyed heart and lung care and did her thoracic training in Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, before working as an ITU Sister back at the QE and accepting a Sister position at Great Charles Street Hospital in the city.

Joan’s mum sadly passed away and she admits that caused her to stop and reflect asking herself: “What am I going to do?”

Shortly afterwards she spotted an advert in the Nursing Times for a Matron in Walsall.

“The tone of the advert was all about bringing back the modern Matron with an emphasis on quality and patient journey and experience and it really resonated with me,” said Joan.

“The interview was so, so tough I remember. I got home, ate a doughnut and went to the gym and when I got back the phone rang and it was a member of the interview panel. She asked how I thought it went and I honestly thought I was getting feedback and being told I was unsuccessful on this occasion – but I had got the job. I was so surprised!”

During Joan’s Matron career she has worked in the Division of Surgery and is now Outpatients’ Matron – and the trust’s only Black Matron.

“Being a Matron is a real privilege and I also like to think I am a role model for other staff to achieve their goals and aspirations,” said Joan. “I want staff to see someone like me and think: “Yes, I could do that too.

“As we celebrate Black History Month that is my wish – for our trust to do more to mentor and support BAME colleagues who have the potential to make real progress in their careers with the right encouragement. Staff are our biggest asset and we have some absolutely fantastic colleagues here at Walsall Healthcare. We just need to help them to shine and ensure they have access to the same opportunities as everyone else.

“It is also important that our patients are cared for by people who are representative of their communities.”

Joan, aged 59, is also pleased with the support shown by the trust’s Executive Team.

“I think there is a real appetite to value staff and to change the culture of the organisation so that it is fair to all and really embraces equality and diversity. The BAME Shared Decision Making Council is a good example of this and I think BAME colleagues are starting to feel that change is in the air.”

In her spare time, Joan loves baking – taught well by her mum – going to the gym, meeting friends and doing home renovation projects.