Abigail Morakinyo, Alumna, BSc Adult Nursing

"I want to make sure I'm growing and learning all the time"

Nurse entrepreneur Abigail Morakinyo (BSc Adult Nursing, 2005) launched her own business, Health in Check, to help companies maintain a healthy, productive workforce. Now as an alumni volunteer with LSBU, she's sharing her experiences with our current crop of nursing students.

My business was born from my desire to create flexible work for myself. As it's grown, I've been able to offer that opportunity to others, too. Now I have a team of about 15 nurses who work with me regularly, and others I can call on for support when things get hectic. There are a lot of nurses out there who love the profession, but who are looking for a way to work that allows them to have a bit more balance in their lives.

There's no doubt, starting out is hard. I had very limited funds and I made a lot of mistakes. You can burn out very easily if you're working in your business as well as on your business. It took me a while to realise I needed guidance. Business coaching was invaluable in helping me to set up more sustainable systems and find less stressful ways of working.

COVID-19 has made me rethink my direction. It had been a long time since I'd worked full time as a nurse, but when the pandemic hit I felt I should do my bit. I was immediately struck by the impact it was having on the physical and mental health of the colleagues around me. So I decided to move away from targeting corporate clients to focus on the healthcare sector instead. It makes sense. I've been there. I can tell them what I did to get myself to the place where I could make better decisions for my health. I'm coming from a place of empathy, and I find that gets much better results.

As nurses, we often fail to practice what we preach. We spend a lot of time advising people to eat healthily and take more exercise but the fact is when you're working a 12-hour shift you grab whatever's convenient for lunch and the last thing you feel like when you get home is going to the gym or even out for a walk. But if you're going to be looking after other people, you need to look after yourself first.

For me, the secret is accountability. I recognise that I need someone to keep me on the straight and narrow so once a week I meet with my health coach to set some goals. Then they check in with me to see whether I've done my 10,000 steps or whatever. It's so simple, but just knowing that someone else is there, watching out for you, can make all the difference.

Coaching and mentoring have been hugely important to me along the way. That's why I'm so keen to give something back by working with the University. When I started out, there were very few other nurse entrepreneurs. I had no one to look up to, no one to advise me. And there certainly weren't any black role models on the scene. If I can be that person for someone else, I'll be happy.

My message to nursing students is, innovate! I recently gave a talk as a volunteer to students in the School of Health and Social Care and my message was, nursing is a great career. It gives you so many useful skills - but it's important to remember that a lot of those skills are transferrable. Open your eyes, and look around you and you'll see a lot of opportunities to do things better or even create something entirely new.

Looking to the future, I'm keen to work more with the BAME community. The pandemic really highlighted a lot of health inequalities. I want to get people from Black and Asian communities accessing healthcare at an earlier stage so we reduce some of that imbalance. And I want to work with nutritionists and other professionals who really understand the needs of people in those communities so we can provide advice that's targeted and realistic.

I'm always trying to develop myself as a leader. Right now I'm reading Start With Why by Simon Sinek which is all about purpose and John Maxwell's 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. The years pass so quickly. I want to make sure I'm growing and learning all the time.


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