Adult nursing student Zoe Butler has beaten hundreds of entries to be shortlisted for a prestigious national award recognising exceptional work in nursing.
The Kendal-based student, who studies at the University of Cumbria, is among five vying for the Andrew Parker Student Nurse Award from the Royal College of Nursing.
The annual RCNi Nurse Awards are the profession’s top accolade for nursing excellence and recognise nurses who have come up with new ways to improve health, enhance patient experiences and transform nursing practice.
Zoe said: “The news has come out of the blue – I heard via Twitter! The awards are for innovation in practice and my work to look at mental health in young people drew the judge’s attention.”
Zoe was instrumental in working with young people to write and film a series of monologues as part of a project called ‘The Hot Potato’ aimed at raising awareness of mental health. Now in use in schools across Cumbria, the resource can start discussions within schools and organisations regarding mental illness.
The university has also used the material in some of the sessions delivered to all fields of nursing to enable students to consider the impact a mental health condition can have on a young person.
During her time at Queen Elizabeth School in Kirkby Lonsdale, Zoe helped carry out a review of services supporting children and adolescents with mental illness in the South Lakeland area. This report made a number of recommendations to support young people and their families who have experienced mental health issues at both a local and national level. One of the recommendations related to training for parents, children and young people and the public around mental health, which led to ‘The Hot Potato’ programme.
Louise Corless, senior lecturer in mental health nursing within the University of Cumbria’s Department of Nursing, Health and Professional Practice, said: “Zoe is passionate about everything she becomes involved in and helps others see its relevance and importance.
“She is a clear role model to peers, junior colleagues and also her tutors, many of whom have been both inspired and humbled by her motivation and passion for promoting excellence in learning environments, practice and the wider population.
“We are extremely proud of her and her achievements so far and we are confident that she will go on to achieve great things when she becomes a qualified nurse, carrying on the good work she has started into her future career.”
Entrants shortlisted as finalists in the RCNi Nurse Awards will be invited to the judging days in March to present their initiatives to the judging panel, with winners announced at a ceremony on Friday, May 5 at the Westminster Park Plaza in London.
Zoe said: “It’s great to get shortlisted and my time at the university have been the best three years of my life.
“In September I’m looking forward to starting work with the NHS at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.”
Click here to find out more about Zoe's experience at the University of Cumbria and future careers plans.