Why you should speak up about your achievements

Nurse and coach Ruth Oshikanlu is offering support to BME nurses, so they can feel confident applying for this year’s RCNi Nurse Awards

Picture: Alamy

As I watched the recent final of the BBC show The Apprentice, I felt in awe of the winner and budding entrepreneur Sian Gabiddon, especially because I too am a nurse entrepreneur. 

I was even more inspired that she was of mixed heritage and from a minority ethnic group. Then I thought: why don’t more nurses like me apply for awards? Why don't more nurses from black and minority ethnic (BME) groups win more nursing awards?

Perhaps, you have thought of applying for a nursing award but do not know how to submit a strong application. You may feel it is a cumbersome process, or that you're not doing enough in your daily role to merit an award.

I needed encouragement, and I want to encourage you

Several years ago, I felt the same way until I undertook a 12-month leadership programme for community nurses. Here, I was encouraged to apply to become a Queen’s Nurse (QN), a title that may be conferred on nurses who have worked in the community for at least five years and demonstrate a commitment to learning and leadership. Being a QN gave me access to a community of like-minded community nurses and nurse leaders.

So how will entering the RCNi Nurse Awards benefit you? It will enable you to evaluate the difference you make to patients or clients. You get an opportunity to describe the impact of the care you provide and its importance to patients and their families.

'Being a finalist or winning an award opens more opportunities for professional growth and development and can enhance your career prospects'

By being shortlisted for an award, you can raise your profile, that of your department, specialty, organisation and the profession. 

Nurses often make headlines when errors happen or there are negative outcomes for patients. One of the best ways to raise the profile of our profession is to show the great work we do and the positive contribution we make.

Come to my workshop

I want to support more BME nurses to apply for awards. I will be running a workshop on 25 January 2019 at the RCN headquarters in London and will be supporting nurses who want to enter the RCNi Nurse Awards at the RCNi Nursing Careers and Jobs Fair in Manchester on 7 February 2019. For more information about the workshops and to register email

The aim of both events will be to support you to express the difference you make as a nurse and submit a strong application that stands out and can win. You will glean insights from judges and previous finalists about how being involved with the awards has boosted their careers.

Watch: Ruth Oshikanlu's top tips for entering the RCNi Nurse Awards



Being a finalist or winning an award makes people take note of how great we are as nurses. It enables you to be seen, heard and take greater pride in our profession. It opens more opportunities for professional growth and development and can enhance your career prospects. You will get opportunities such as writing for publication, media work, public speaking and presentation at conferences. And by raising the bar, you will inspire colleagues to become better at delivering high standards of patient care.

Under-representation is disheartening

To date, I have won 12 nursing and healthcare awards. I feel grateful to have been supported to apply for my first award. As a judge for the RCNi Nurse Awards and an RCN Fellow, I felt disheartened that those who entered the awards last year were not representative of the nursing population.

Why not sign up for one of the workshops, so that you can get to celebrate your achievements as a nurse and get recognition for the difference you make.

Ruth Oshikanlu is a Queen's Nurse, RCN Fellow and leadership coach