Two students who set up the University of Derby’s Nursing Society have scooped a top prize at the Student Nursing Times Awards 2018.
Kelly-Hellen Hitchcock and Laura MacPherson, both third-year Mental Health students, set up the society to unite student nurses from across all cohorts and disciplines at Derby. The society, which has around 100 members, aims to provide peer support, as well as organise social events and career-focused trips.
Following a record-breaking year of award entries, the winners of the Student Nursing Times Awards were announced at a ceremony held at the London Hilton on Park Lane.
Student nurses, universities and organisations from across the student nursing community were honoured in 19 categories dedicated to celebrating an exceptional achievement.
After excelling during the rigorous judging process, Kelly-Hellen and Laura were announced winners of the Outstanding Contribution to Student Affairs category.
Kelly-Hellen said: “It is so amazing to win this award and be able to showcase all of the work we have put in and the fantastic things we have achieved with the Nursing Society over the last 18 months.
“Most of all, it's a great chance for us to thank all of the people who have been a part of our journey. While it's our names on the award, so many people have helped us get here, and we accept it on their behalf too. It's such a surprise and an absolute joy to end our time as student nurses on such an incredible high.”
Laura added: “I hope we've made a difference to the student nursing experience at the University of Derby, which will continue long after we have left. This is an amazing way to recognise and celebrate nearly finishing our training.”
As part of the Nursing Society, Kelly-Hellen and Laura, who are both Academic Representatives for their course at Derby, arranged trips to the Royal College of Nursing Congress and Nursing Times Careers Fair, organised a Nursing Society Christmas lecture with academics from across the university and guest speakers, as well as raising more than £800 funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
The pair has also actively encouraged students to take part in the national Scrap the Cap Campaign – urging the government to ditch the 1% cap on public sector pay – completing postcards, attending an organised rally in London, and inviting local MP Chris Williamson to speak to student nurses.
Dr Paula Holt, Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean of the College of Health and Social Care at the University of Derby, said: “This is an exceptional achievement and we are extremely proud of our engaged, committed and talented students, who are so passionate about their studies and supporting others.
“The Nursing Society has been fundamental in helping students to communicate with one another and share their experiences of studying at Derby and we hope it continues in the future, helping the next generation of trainee nurses.”
Jenni Middleton, Nursing Times Editor and host of the Student Nursing Times Award, added: “Every year, our judges are stunned by the standard of our entrants, and this year, in particular, they commented to me just how much better the quality of applicants was. We are delighted to be handing out these trophies to the very best students, and the organisations that are supporting them and helping them to become nurses.”
Going into their eighth year, the Student Nursing Times Awards will return in 2019 and are the only awards recognising student nurses and nurse education.