The 2020 RCNi Nurse Awards can give you and your specialty a life-changing boost

2019 Community and general practice nursing category winner in the RCNi Nurse Awards Janine McKnight-Cowan reveals how the award, for her innovative work in caesarean section recovery, has raised her specialty's profile

Nurse Awards

  • Entering or nominating a colleague for the RCNi Nurse Awards 2020 can help boost your specialty and career development
  • 2019’s winner in the Community and general practice nursing category now has a platform to influence care
  • The RCN Nurse of the Year 2020 will be chosen from the category winners

The RCNi Nurse Awards 2020 are open for entries, with past winners highlighting the ‘life-changing’ boost it has given their projects, profiles and practice.

In the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, the profession’s most prestigious accolades offer opportunities for nurses, students and nursing support workers to share their practice innovations by entering the 12 categories.

The categories include the NHS England-sponsored General practice and community nursing, Team of the year, Nursing support worker and Advanced nurse practitioner.

The RCN Nurse of the Year 2020 will be chosen from the category winners and announced at the awards ceremony in London on 8 July. The deadline for entries is 7 February.

Enter the awards today

Janine McKnight-Cowan won the Community and general practice nursing category in 2019. The health visitor developed the Five Guide, a simple tool promoting caesarean section recovery.

‘The award has been the pinnacle of my career,’ she says, ‘validating that I made a difference.’

‘I could see I hit all the criteria buttons and I wanted to share my project widely. And I enjoyed the judging experience and the opportunity to reflect on my work.

‘Winning the award has definitely raised the profile of my work’

Janine McKnight-Cowan, winner of the 2019 RCNi Nurse Awards’ Community and general practice nursing category

‘The awards evening was great fun and it was a total surprise when they called out my name as the winner.

Award led to interviews, Twitter chats and work media coverage

‘Winning the award has definitely raised the profile of my work. Initially the media coverage and pictures with TV presenter and awards’ night host Kate Garraway made me feel like a celebrity, but then it spiralled into interviews, Twitter chats and work media coverage. My face was everywhere – even the local press.

Janine McKnight-Cowan. Picture: Tim Gee

‘After a couple of weeks I realised the responsibility that came with the role of Community and general practice nursing award winner. I have also submitted a clinical article to Primary Heath Care.’

Since winning the award, Ms McKnight-Cowan has been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to nursing. Despite having retired from her full-time post at Derbyshire Community Healthcare Services, she continues to disseminate the Five Guide’s values and outcomes.

The Queen’s Nurse was a speaker at the International Maternity Expo in November 2019, one of 70 speakers video streamed to 16 countries, including the US, Australia, Haiti, Brazil, Ethiopia, Norway, India and Cyprus.

Five Guide profile has increased through video and Facebook

Her Five Guide video has been accessed by many women and clinicians and the Five Guide Facebook page is popular too.

Ms McKinght-Cowan adds: ‘I received a Facebook message from a mum in Australia, who told me, “You have changed my whole recovery. I now have a family who understand what I have been through”.’

Category sponsor NHS England wants to shine a light on practice nurse excellence. Primary care nursing lead Karen Storey says: ‘In the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife we want to celebrate the fabulous contribution that general practice nurses (GPNs) make for their patients, communities and populations.

A safe haven and social venue for isolated male patients

Practice nurse Sarah Everett won the Patient’s Choice category for her work creating a safe haven and social venue for her isolated male patients. She says the awards were a ‘great experience’.

‘I loved the whole day – meeting the nurses in all the categories and hearing about their amazing achievements.

‘The award raised the profile of what we are doing. We received a lot of press coverage and being recognised by the RCNi Nurse Awards has helped with funding applications, too.

‘I would absolutely recommend other nurses enter these awards and raise the profile of their project. As nurses we should make sure the extra work we have done and our achievements are recognised.’

RCN Nurse of the Year put specialty in the spotlight

RCNi Nurse of the Year 2019 Taurai Matare
RCN Nurse of the Year 2019 Taurai Matare. Picture: Barney Newman

Matron Taurai Matare is the current RCN Nurse of the Year. She developed her hospital’s ophthalmology service and its nursing team, bringing together separate eye casualty, outpatients and theatres to create a single, modern treatment centre on one site.

‘I didn’t realise what a huge thing it was nationally and internationally to be the RCN Nurse of the Year, but I’ve been networking with nurses around the UK and the world, and from all specialties,’ she says.

‘I met the prime minister when he came to my workplace, Whipps Cross Hospital in London, and I’ve been invited to present my work in Australia and in Singapore.

‘Winning the award has put the specialty I am so passionate about – ophthalmology – in the spotlight.

‘So many hospitals and ophthalmology teams want to visit our unit and see what we do, and so many nurses and nursing support workers are interested in working here that we now have a waiting list.’

Flying the flag for ophthalmology

‘Many colleagues have emailed and phoned to congratulate me on flying the flag for ophthalmology,’ she says.

‘I have loved being able to raise its profile as a nursing career and we have definitely put it right up there in our trust.

‘I absolutely recommend that nurses enter the RCNi Nurse Awards. Submit your nominations – you get to have so many experiences you would never have dreamed of.’

sponsors the General practice and community nursing category of the 2020 RCNi Nurse Awards