As the NHS celebrates International Nurses’ Day, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) is delighted to share the fact that a newly-qualified nurse from the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) has been shortlisted for two prestigious Nursing Times Student Awards.
Cherish Otoo, who qualified as a nurse at UHMBT in February 2022 and has a huge passion for nursing, has been shortlisted for the ‘Most Inspirational Nurse’, and the ‘Mary Seacole Award’ for her outstanding contributions to diversity and inclusion.
Nurses’ Day is taking place on Thursday 12 May to celebrate all nurses for going above and beyond the call of duty to deliver highly skilled, safe and compassionate care to patients every single day. This year’s Nurses’ Day theme is ‘Best of Nursing’ so Cherish’s story is being shared as an example of excellence in nursing.
Cherish, 33, said: “I feel honoured to have been nominated for the Nursing Times awards. I love the career opportunities that nursing provides and the fact that every day is different. I am inspired by the resilience and courage of my fellow colleagues and the nurturing support that they have given me throughout my nurse training when I was part of a workforce on multiple wards in the hospital on placements, and then through my preceptorship in the Emergency Department (ED).
“I always ensure that I am acting in a way in which promotes non-discriminative practice and I have a passion for patient-centred care, ensuring that the wishes of patients are always met with dignity and respect. I go home from work knowing that I have given every patient the best care that I can deliver and I receive huge job satisfaction from that.”
Cherish, who had previously worked for the Trust in a non-clinical role, was one of the first people in the UK to enrol and qualify as a nurse through the University of Cumbria’s Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship programme, which was the first of its kind in the country when it launched in 2018. On graduating, Cherish secured a nursing role at the RLI’s ED.
Cherish said: “The apprenticeship scheme opens opportunities for people who wouldn't usually have the opportunity to become nurses. There is no way I would have been able to quit my full-time job and go to university, and train to be a nurse through the traditional pathway. I think that everyone who can have the opportunity to get on the apprenticeship should absolutely do it. It's a life changing experience that the Trust is offering.”
Cherish always takes an open minded, non-judgemental and welcoming approach to caring for patients: “Diversity in nurses within the NHS brings innovation and provides patients with an inclusive service, thus promoting and delivering high quality patient care,” she said.
“Recognising and valuing diversity and inclusion is a part of my nursing role where my passion lies. I enjoy connecting with nurses at ground level, and supporting and encouraging the growth of the Trust’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Staff Network.
“Whether I am sharing my lived experiences, or advocating for and representing others, my passion for equality, diversity and inclusion is what I find most rewarding and fulfilling.
“I am grateful to all of the BAME Staff Network members for allowing me to be a part of their wonderful group, and to my managers and colleagues who always facilitate my ability to connect and join these meetings.”
Karmini McCann, Head of Culture Transformation for UHMBT, said: “I would like to thank Cherish for being a true ambassador and driver of change for diversity and inclusion. Cherish is highly articulate and she speaks up for what is right, and for equity and fairness. She raises the voices of her colleagues and shares her own experiences in a way that is always constructive so people listen even when it is difficult to hear.
“Cherish has proactively connected with our anti-racism and other equality programmes, including being an active member of our BAME Staff Network and our anti-racism influencers group. This is something incredibly powerful, particularly as most of the time she has been the representative of her staff group and ethnic background. Cherish also uses social media to raise awareness of equality issues, reaching a wide audience who connect with her in a different way to our more corporate work.
“The impact Cherish has made will have a long-term benefits - raising awareness of equality issues and experiences, supporting the growth of our BAME network, developing our race equality allies and enhancing the knowledge and understanding of colleagues across our entire Trust.”
Bridget Lees, Executive Chief Nurse for UHMBT, said: “Being shortlisted for two national awards is an amazing achievement and is testament to Cherish’s hard work and passion for nursing, diversity and equality.
“I’m delighted that the degree apprenticeship programme created the opportunity for Cherish to qualify as a nurse. Cherish is already making a big impression on the profession and she should be very proud of her achievements. I wish her all the best for the awards and her future career.”
Paul Armstrong, Head of Apprenticeships at the University of Cumbria, said: “The University of Cumbria is proud of the collaborative role it plays with partners to upskill workforce teams to address higher-level skills and sector needs. It is also our university’s mission to support students of the future, helping them to become skilled, resilient and ready to lead the long-term recovery society faces and to support our communities to be more prosperous and to thrive.”
The Student Nursing Times Awards winners will be announced at a ceremony at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel on Friday 27 May.
There are apprenticeship opportunities across UHMBT and more information can be found on this link: firstname.lastname@example.org
All nurses are being encouraged to share their #BestOfNursing stories on social media on Thursday 12 May using #BestOfNursing and #NursesDay and tagging @UHMBT @theRCN (Twitter and Instagram) and @RoyalCollegeofNursing (Facebook).
Cherish at work as a nurse at UHMBT
Cherish at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary in her white uniform when she was training to be a nurse