Advice and development

Something worth sharing: why students should enter the RCNi Nurse Awards

RCNi Nurse Awards 2018 is open for entries, and here the 2017 student category winner Zoe Butler describes her experience and encourages nursing students to enter

I had the honour of being named winner of the Andrew Parker student nurse category of the RCNi Nurse Awards 2017 for my project helping young people address mental health challenges.

I entered the awards because I could see the impact of my project on young people and the positivity it had brought into their lives. I believed this was something worth sharing with other practitioners. These awards allow us, as nursing students, to lead by example and improve care by sharing ideas and working together to celebrate successes in healthcare.

Picture: John Houlihan

I was shortlisted as one of the five finalists in the student nurse category and invited to present my project to the judging panel of leading nurses.

Although it was a nerve-wracking experience, I remember bursting with pride as I came out of the judges’ room after presenting the project and answering their questions. There are not many opportunities in our careers to truly reflect on the impact of our work, and entering the competition to was the perfect chance to stop and be proud of my achievements so far.

Watch: Andrew Parker student nurse winner Zoe Butler describes her winning Hot Potato Project



Winning the award has helped raise the profile of the Hot Potato Project.

A wider range of professionals are now accessing the DVD and using it as an educational icebreaker when discussing mental health with young people.

Breaking down barriers

It has also helped to break down barriers between organisations, as schools that have seen it are much more open to allowing healthcare professionals to support them in the classroom.

Other professionals, such as social workers and counsellors, are using it in youth group settings as an opportunity to signpost young people to healthcare support when it is felt to be required.

I also had the opportunity to guest edit an edition of Nursing Standard and now regularly contribute to the journal. You can read my editorial here.

I would recommend students enter the awards. My advice is to focus on the impact your work has made in your sphere of practice, and also how it has shaped and changed practices and attitudes in a wider sense. Don't be shy about your achievements!

The ceremony is to this day the most inspiring day I have experienced in my professional career. This competition gives nurses the best opportunity to be proud of their work as well as showcase the most wonderful profession in the world.

Entries for the RCNi Nurse Awards close on 9 February. Visit for more information and to enter.

Zoe Butler won the Andrew Parker Student Nurse Award at the 2017 RCNi Nurse Awards. After graduating from the University of Cumbria in September, she now works as a staff nurse at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, Lancashire. Ms Butler is writing for Nursing Standard about her experience as a newly qualified nurse. Read the first instalment here.