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More BME nurses should sign up for inspiring awards process

A member of the judging panel for the RCNi Nurse Awards 2018 encourages all staff to shine a light on the talent and skill of the profession

A member of the judging panel for the RCNi Nurse Awards 2018 encourages all staff to shine a light on the talent and skill of the profession

This year I joined the judging panel for six categories of the RCNi Nurse Awards student nurses, community nursing, innovations in your specialty, cancer research, cancer nursing practice and nursing older people.

What I have found most inspiring is how talented and skilled the shortlisted nurses are, really making a difference to their communities despite limited resources and work constraints.

Nurses who stood out for me had not just put patients at the heart of things but also involved them in shaping the service.

I enjoyed listening to stories of resilience and how nurses had overcome whatever challenges they faced through sheer determination and in collaboration with other agencies.

Striving to reduce inequalities

A member of the judging panel for the RCNi Nurse Awards 2018 encourages all staff to shine a light on the talent and skill of the profession

This year I joined the judging panel for six categories of the RCNi Nurse Awards – student nurses, community nursing, innovations in your specialty, cancer research, cancer nursing practice and nursing older people.

What I have found most inspiring is how talented and skilled the shortlisted nurses are, really making a difference to their communities despite limited resources and work constraints.

Nurses who stood out for me had not just put patients at the heart of things but also involved them in shaping the service.

I enjoyed listening to stories of resilience and how nurses had overcome whatever challenges they faced through sheer determination and in collaboration with other agencies.

Striving to reduce inequalities

I loved how some had strived to reduce health inequalities by focusing on the homeless, those in police custody or patients with gender dysphoria, or by supporting students’ mental health.

Although the projects were diverse, they had common themes – they were responsive to community needs and focused not just on illness, physical health and hospital nursing but also preventing illness, maintaining wellness and mental health, and community settings.

I took pride in listening to budding nurse entrepreneurs creating social change; health visitors enabling parenting, child development and school readiness; and others supporting patients with cancer and sickle cell disease to enjoy better quality of life through self-management and independence.


Ruth Oshikanlu: This is a platform to showcase talent. Picture: David Gee

Inspired by the next generation

Many projects demonstrated huge cost savings while improving the quality of care, employed integrated approaches and used digital technology.

After two long days with the panel I left feeling inspired, especially by the student category, knowing that the next generation of nurses are full of passion for the profession and have those they serve at the heart of everything they do.

Like the award organisers, I was disappointed that the entries and judging panel were not more representative of the black and minority ethnic (BME) nurses in the profession.

I encourage senior BME nurses to approach RCNi to get involved next year, and nurses from BME backgrounds who are doing great work to showcase it by entering.

The return on my time investment was immense. I learned so much and received much more than I gave. The RCNi is looking at how it can encourage nurses from BME backgrounds to enter, and I plan to be involved in that work.

Shine a light

When one watches an orchestra perform, every member plays their instrument. No one plays another’s instrument. You may feel that you don’t want to blow your own trumpet. However, every trumpeter in an orchestra blows their own trumpet.

As nurses, we make a very important contribution to the lives of patients, clients, carers and communities.  It is important to celebrate the positive difference we make.

It may help to think of entering the awards as a way of marketing your service. Every organisation spends a proportion of its funds on marketing. Get the support you need to write a good application so you can highlight the difference you are making to those you serve.

The RCNi Nurse Awards provide a platform to showcase the talent we have. So don’t wait to be nominated. Shine a light on the positive impact that you and your team are making.


Ruth Oshikanlu is a Queen’s Nurse and an RCN fellow

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