Advice and development

Celebrating the profession's work is important

Zoe Butler on what winning the student category in last year’s RCNi awards has meant to her

Zoe Butler on what winning the student category in last year’s RCNi awards has meant to her

Zoe Butler created the Hot Potato campaign to discuss mental health. Picture: John Houlihan

I can hardly believe it is a year since I won the Andrew Parker Student Nurse Award at the 2017 RCNi Nurse Awards. Reflecting on the past 12 months evokes a mix of emotions but all of them are positive.

The RCNi award spurred me on to inspire and support our future nurses and the next generation of healthcare workers, and I have a great sense of pride in my achievements. 

The nursing profession is under constant strain and pressure, which is why it is so important for us to come together and celebrate the amazing work we do on a daily basis. 

Positive impact

This year's student award winner Katie Dutton has used her personal experience of sepsis to help others. Her ability to take her experiences and create a positive impact on the lives of others is inspiring. 

It's about turning negatives into positives. My Hot Potato project, which came about following the loss of a young woman’s life, aimed to improve the lives of other young people who have also experienced a tragic situation. 

Thinking back to when I began the project, I believe its success stems from the importance of listening to the personal accounts and stories of the patients, clients and service users whose lives we touch. 

Changing profession

Nursing is changing, along with the approaches we take when treating and caring for individuals. Informed and inclusive care is the way forward. With growing use of technology and healthcare information freely available, patients are well informed and expect to take an active part in decision-making about their care. 

But we need to go deeper. Rather than just informing our patients, we should be developing therapeutic relationships to allow us to understand the full impact of our interventions. We should hold more meaningful conversations when developing plans of care for individuals, and ensure they suit and support their lifestyles.

I want to enhance care pathways by actively listening to patient narratives and stories, and am working on my own publication exploring how we can inspire individuals to take a more active role in their health and engage in their personal plan of care. 

Changing lives

As I continue with Hot Potato, I feel this new work is a progression of that project; it was the personal accounts of the young people involved that inspired me to bring individuals together.

Looking back to a year ago, it amazes me how far I have progressed and grown, and I am proud about the effect the Hot Potato project has had in changing the lives of young people. 

Through the challenges I have faced, I have learned that personal confidence is a skillset in itself, and balancing this with empathy and person-centred values is what has made me the nurse I am today. 

I wish Katie Dutton every success. My advice would be to keep those same values that earned her the student nurse award and put them into practice during difficult and challenging times.

From death’s door to saving lives: Read more about Katie Dutton, the sepsis patient who became a nurse

Zoe Butler graduated from the University of Cumbria in September 2017 and now works as a staff nurse at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, Lancashire


This article is for subscribers only