Celebrate the best of outstanding emergency care

Emergency Nurse welcomes nominations for the RCNi Nurse Awards 2018 to recognise and celebrate staff delivering outstanding work under severe pressure.

 Emergency Nurse welcomes nominations for the RCNi Nurse Awards 2018 to recognise and celebrate staff delivering outstanding work under severe pressure.

The RCNi Nurse Awards – the profession’s top accolade – launch this month with a brand new category to celebrate emergency nurses’ outstanding contribution to patient care. 

The awards offer a chance to nominate a colleague or team for their outstanding contribution to care, or share excellent practice with the wider nursing community. Winning can raise the profile of a specialty or the challenges faced by a particular patient group.

Raising the profile

The 14 categories are open to nurses registered to practice in the UK, nursing students and those working in health support roles such as healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Westminster Park Plaza Hotel in London on 4 July, when the RCN Nurse of the Year, chosen from the category winners, will be unveiled.

RCNi editorial director Graham Scott says: ‘We have been so impressed by the quality of entries from emergency nurses that we have introduced a category dedicated to showcasing the outstanding work delivered under severe pressure in this specialty day in, day out.’

Emergency nurse Drew McDonald won the Child Health category in the RCNi Nurse Awards 2017.

Emergency nurse Drew McDonald with Margaret Sneddon (left) and Kate Garraway (right)
Picture: Barney Newman

The senior staff nurse developed a clear and easy-to-use sepsis recognition tool for triage, which takes 20 seconds to complete, and successfully implemented it at Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital (RACH). 

Once the tool was embedded, Mr McDonald worked on implementing it in the paediatric assessment unit, as well as promoting the tool nationally.

‘The RCNi Nurse Awards was a great experience,’ he says. ‘The whole process, from the shortlisting to the end of the ceremony, was an excellent journey and one I will never forget. Even if I had not won the award the experience would have still been amazing.’

Watch: Child Health Award winner 2017 Drew McDonald describes his winning project




He especially enjoyed meeting the other finalists. ‘Seeing the work that goes on all over the UK gives you a sense of pride and confidence in our NHS,’ he adds. ‘It is inspiring to see just how many amazing people work in the organisation and how they go well above the call of duty to make their areas safer, and provide a great experience for patients.’

Drew’s passion for improving sepsis care impressed the judges so for him, one of the benefits of winning has been the platform it has given him to raise awareness of his project and its importance. All the category winners, those highly commended, and some finalists have their project featured online and in print in RCNi journals. 

‘Many centres have got in contact with us and we are helping in any way we can,’ says Mr McDonald. ‘Spreading the word and trying to improve sepsis management is so important to me, and the award has helped me gain strength and the confidence to spread the word faster.’

'Going above and beyond'

NHS Grampian chief nurse Caroline Clark nominated Mr McDonald for the award. She says: ‘I was impressed by the dedication, commitment and enthusiasm with which Drew approached the sepsis work. He went above and beyond to make the changes needed. 

‘He often came in on his days off to present at meetings and much of the data collation and background work was carried out in his own time. He takes great pride in the sepsis work but is also very humble about his achievements. He is keen to ensure that the wider team receives its due recognition – he could not have done it without their support.’

She has seen the benefit for Mr McDonald, the wider team and NHS Grampian from his Nurse Award success.

‘Drew continues to present at events as a result of his award. Having our nurse leaders present successful project work nationally and internationally is a fantastic reflection on RACH. It tells its own story about the positive values and culture within nursing and nurse leadership at NHS Grampian.’

Top tips for entering the Nurse Awards

 RCNi editorial advisory board chair Caroline Shuldham on what makes a good application 

Patient focus

The main feature of all the finalists is that patients are at the centre of their work and they demonstrate a strong commitment, whether they decided to undertake the project or when it had been allocated to them.   

The impact on patients is fundamental, for example when using a sepsis recognition tool for children in the emergency department or reducing emergency admissions from care homes to hospital. Finalists took charge, were go-head and sometimes daring.

Clear categorisation

Good entries fit the criteria for the chosen category and follow the instructions clearly so the judges do not have to try to work out what happened. Your application should tell the story of what was done and the impact it had.  

It is worth remembering the reader will only know what you tell them, so time spent thinking about the message is important. Simple, straightforward language is best and it can be useful to seek feedback from a colleague. Where others were involved it helps the process of shortlisting if the role played by each person is stated. 

Simple evaluation

Several categories ask about challenges, evaluation and sharing best practice. Challenges are usually articulated well in most applications, but evaluation and sharing best practice less so. The best projects generally have evidence of their impact. This can include outcome measures, feedback or audit data on for example, patient safety, efficiency and effectiveness (including cost-effectiveness), or patient experience.  

Best practice has been disseminated through activities such as engaging with others to promote the change more widely within or beyond the organisation, teaching colleagues and students, writing articles and learning materials, or presenting at conferences.  


The new category is supported by Emergency Nurse journal. Consultant editor Tricia Scott welcomed it as an opportunity for nurses to disseminate the great work they do.

‘Emergency nurses form the backbone of the emergency system, providing 24-hour compassionate care to approximately 23 million patients, and their loved ones, annually,’ she says. ‘They deliver this often in quite challenging circumstances.

‘In my role of consultant editor, I learn of acts of real dedication by emergency nurses when supporting people at their most vulnerable. What always strikes me is how emergency nurses constantly evaluate their approach, creating innovative ways to cope with ever-increasing service demands. This is not an easy task.

‘I’m delighted that the specialty has been recognised through this category, which will celebrate and showcase some of the inspirational emergency nursing initiatives across the UK to enhance the experience of each and every one of our patients.’

Mr McDonald says that since winning the award, he has joined new groups to help in other areas like deterioration. ‘Winning has increased my self-confidence and inspired me to do more as well as inspire others to try and achieve what I have achieved,’ he says.

Click here for more information and to enter

Encouraging his emergency nursing colleagues to enter, he adds: ‘Go for it. Celebrate your own or an inspiring colleague’s achievements. Even receiving a nomination could boost a colleague’s confidence and it is a way of saying thank you for their hard work.  

‘Don’t be scared to show yourself or others in a good light. We do not give ourselves or others enough credit and concentrate too much on the negatives. And if you get through to shortlisting, just enjoy it regardless of the outcome. You will have a great time.’



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