Our Nursing Hero: Interview with Francesca Steyn

Francesca Steyn RN

June 16, 2023

Francesca Steyn is a mum of two, trail runner, proud egg donor, death metal lover, fertility and surrogacy nurse, Chair of the Royal College of Nursing’s Fertility Nursing Forum and VP Clinical at Peppy (formerly Director of Fertility and Women’s Health Services).

She’s also just become the youngest person ever to win the Royal College of Nursing’s Top Award of Merit.

Is there anything she can’t do? We found out.

Your career journey is incredibly inspiring. What was the “aha” moment that made you say, “Yes, nursing and women’s health is my path!”?

My nan told me I would make a good nurse so I applied for University, got a place and started my training. The moment I knew I had found my calling was actually on my first ever placement with a very strict ward manager who insisted I learn how to take a blood pressure manually before I could do anything else – I loved it!

I realised that I loved fertility and women’s health when I got my first job in a fertility clinic and saw eggs and sperm through a microscope. 

You recently won the Royal College of Nursing Award of Merit. What did that feel like?

I actually cried when I got the letter telling me I had won the award. I was blown away that I had been nominated, let alone won. I felt extremely proud of what I had achieved in my career so far but also of how I had been recognised for those achievements. 

The best feeling was going up onto the stage and receiving my award from our RCN president Sheilabye and our Chief Exec Pat Cullen, hearing and seeing so many people cheering for me. 

My family live-streamed the awards and recorded it. When I watched it back, I could hear my children’s voices saying how proud they were of me.

Reflecting on your career, what would you say is your greatest achievement?

I think it would have to be building the Peppy Fertility service and team from scratch and watching it flourish. I have done a lot of amazing things with my career but when you are asked to build something new and know that it will help thousands of people who may never be able to access the right care and advice… that’s a huge achievement. 

But this one is a team achievement. I would never have been able to do it without the entire Peppy Fertility team. 

And what about your proudest moment outside of work?

That’s an easy one: when my children were born. I know very well the struggles that people go through to have children and I can honestly say that Harry and Hetty make me proud every day. I was also proud to have been able to help my friends have a baby by donating my eggs to them. 

What’s next on your “conquer” list?

At Peppy, we recently started collaborating more with our midwives, health visitors and infant feeding specialist within the Peppy Baby team. So I’m excited to see the next stage of the journey for Peppy Fertility, Baby and Women’s Health but also excited to see how wider collaboration between clinical teams (in the UK and globally) will help us support individuals in a seamless, stress-free way throughout their lives, as women and parents.

I would like to continue my work with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). I did make a joke that I’d love to be the RCN president one day, but I am not sure it was actually a joke… I would love to be able to represent and support nursing staff across the UK, so let’s see what happens.

Could you give us a snapshot of what a “day in the life of Francesca” looks like?

Working remotely means I’m able to start my day with coffee and a run before starting work. I dip out in the morning to do the school run and am back at my desk before our team stand ups.

I live by lists (the pen and notebook kind!) and plan out my day and week so I can get everything I need to do ticked off. 

I’m a huge music fan. If I’m gearing up for a big day, my ultimate power song is ‘Duality’ by Slipknot.

Finally, what saying do you live by? 

This quote by Maya Angelou:

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

That’s exactly what my motto is for my nursing career – I just want people to feel well cared for.

If you want to work alongside people like Francesca, check out our careers page.