Student Nurse Charlotte Ritson has won the Young Achiever Award of the Scottish Health Awards 2016.
Charlotte, who graduates later this month with a BSc Nursing (Adult Branch) was nominated for this award for her commitment to tackling both minor and major areas of change in her role as a student nurse. During her time at the University of Stirling, Charlotte realised that she has the passion and potential to make great changes and improvements to healthcare, something far exceeding her expectations of herself prior to starting her degree.
Infection control is an area in which Charlotte has taken a keen personal interest, attending extra-curricular seminars and trainings sessions. This led into her quality improvement practicum, which successfully improved practitioner knowledge of best practice guidance regarding wound swabbing, and encouraged staff to rely on clinical knowledge and holistic assessments rather than simply wound swabbing as a precautionary measure.
Following discussion with colleagues across Scotland, Charlotte became aware that many student nurses, unlike foundation year doctors and hospital volunteers, were not automatically eligible to receive free influenza vaccines, thus putting elderly and vulnerable patients at risk due to the high proportion of time student nurses spend in direct patient contact. She ran a national campaign, which was supported by Prof Richard Simpson [then] MSP. Charlotte has since received confirmation from various health board chief executives that they have acknowledged the decision made in parliament and will be providing the vaccine to all healthcare students.
Charlotte hopes to vastly improve care delivered to those with long-term conditions and palliative care needs in particular. She hopes to continue to make significant changes and support students far beyond her own graduation.
Charlotte commented “It was fantastic to win and to be recognised in this way. I’d like to thank the Tissue Viability nurses at NHS Forth Valley who were very supportive of me while I was doing the campaign. I hope this encourages other student nurses to make changes.”
Dr Ashley Shepherd, Head of Health Sciences, commented "We are delighted for Charlotte and this recognition shows what nurses can achieve even from the start of their careers. We wish her all the best with her career and look forward to seeing her at Graduation."