Nurse of the Year 2015 Amanda Burston explains the benefits of entering the Nurse Awards and how to improve your chances of success.

The Nurse Awards are open for entries again, giving everyone a chance to share their innovative ideas and passion for patient-focused care. The aim is toshowcase the dedication and commitment of our acute and community teams.

In 2014Iapplied for theawards, for a domestic violence project calledSafer Steps. Setup in our emergency department, theservice has now reached hundreds of survivors of abuseand also trained many staff.

After applying for the Nurse AwardsIwas disappointed not to be shortlisted. I believed Safer Stepswas a worthy project, met all the criteria for innovationand had thepotentialto change lives.

Raised profile

However, though unsuccessful, applyingfor the Nurse Awardsraised the profile of the project. Nursing Standardran an article showcasing Safer Steps. Thisencouragedthe team, broughtnational interest and contacts, and enabledSafer Steps to develop and improve.

The team and the victims of abuse I was representing deserved representation, and with momentum growing, I applied for the 2015 awards.

This timeSafer Stepswas shortlisted, and I was invited to sit before a panel of judges at the Savoy Hotel in London to showcase it.I was asked to share details of the project with the RCN president, a clinical commissioning group chief nurse and the NHS Englandpatient experience professional lead.

This was an impressive audience, and I had a responsibility to my team and to the victims of domestic abuse to tell our story, share our projectand raise awareness ofdomestic abuse.

Double win

I was delighted and shocked to win the 'Innovations in Practice Award' category. At the end of the evening, I was also awarded the Nurse of the Year 2015, which was overwhelming.

It is not always clear how you can affectthe lives of victims of domestic abuse, and I knew this was achance to make a difference.

In 2015, many opportunities presented themselves. I was able to engage with peer groups and share Safer Steps, and was invited to contribute to the development of local trust policy for staff and patients affected by domestic abuse.

Nurses are incredible, often working above and beyond the call of duty, often working in their own time, maintaining the commitment and high standards of care indifficult conditions.

I was asked to contribute to the RCNi journals, joining the Emergency Nurse editorial advisory board.I also received an invitation to attend a domestic abuse conference at the National Centre for the Study and Prevention of Violence and Abuse.

Plenty of opportunities

This conference allowed me to meet the team at SafeLives, who I have continued to work with, particularly on theTHEMIS research project.

I was also involved with BBCPanorama, advising on future projects,appeared on the Paul OGrady show as part of International Nursing Day, and have been a guest speaker for the Townwomen's Guild, whocovered my story in their quarterly journal.

There have beeninvites to attend the RCN awards in London, the RCN 100-yearcelebration hosted at the Houses of Parliament and the Inspirational Women andNHS Hero events in Staffordshire.All of these were opportunities to network andshare a passion for protecting victims of abuse.

For the 2016 Nursing Awards, I was invited tobe a part of the shortlisting process. I was truly staggered and inspired by my colleagues across the UK, and the projects you all believe in and are passionate about.

Incredible teams

Nurses are incredible, often working above and beyond the call of duty, often working in their own time, maintaining the commitment and high standards of care indifficult conditions.

During thepresentations, I met several finalists who shared their projects, and each one offered anoutstanding contributionto improving patient care and safety. There was diversity, ambition andan overwhelming can-doattitude no obstacle would stop any nurse on a mission.

My time as Nurse of the Yearended in May 2016, but the momentumcontinues. In June, I presented a resolution at the RCN congress in Glasgow, where I asked forlobbying to improve domestic abuseeducationin healthcare.

Just the beginning

Following the successful resolution, I have been invited to work with an RCN teamto develop a web-based resource for staff, and pocket guideswith information on domestic abuse services.

From attending this group, I was invited to attend the All PartyParliamentary group, who discussed the effects of BREXIT on victims of domestic abuse.

During the event at the Houseof Commons, I met Royal College of Emergency Medicine presidentCliff Mann. He invited me to present at the college's scientific conference in Bournemouth in September, allowing me to share knowledge and experience with delegates.

The award process is just the beginning of the journey. It is a platform to share, grow, network and improve all projects. In 2014, our project was not shortlisted, but this didnt stop us. In fact, it probably strengthened ourdeterminationto be successful.

Everything to gain

On 17 October, I will be aguest at he Women of the Year lunch in London. I feel immensely privileged to be considered to attend this event,and ITV are filming me in the run up to it.

I hope everyone fully understands the opportunities the Nurse Awards process canbring, with a littleapplication, dedication and commitment.

I urge everyone to nominate a project, a team, or themselves in the 2017 awards.You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, and itwill help you make adifference.

One door opens, and leads to another and another.Good luck everyone!


Amanda Burston is an emergency nurse at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust

Read more about the Safer Steps project here.

For more information on the Nurse Awards go tohttps://rcni.com/nurse-awards

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