Celebrating Shona, a Nightingale Nurse award recipient

27 October 2020

Florence Nightingale transformed nursing and has inspired countless people to become a nurse. To celebrate her legacy and the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, we spoke to Shona, an Infection Prevention and Control Nurse who was recently awarded a Nightingale Nurse qualification.

Shona administering a flu jab to her colleague and fellow IPC team member, Yusupha
Shona administering a flu jab to her colleague and fellow IPC team member, Yusupha

Florence Nightingale and the International Year of the Nurse

This year is a big year for nursing communities around the world. To coincide with Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that 2020 would be the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife in recognition of the contributions both nurses and midwives make across society.

Florence Nightingale, a British nurse, social reformer and statistician, is best known as the founder of modern nursing. While working as nurse during the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale made critical observations that revolutionised the healthcare industry and improved survival rates for the soldiers she treated.

“Florence Nightingale was a pioneer and is an inspiring figure to me,” says Shona, an Infection and Prevention and Control nurse at Evelina London.
“During the Crimean War she proved that soldiers were dying from preventable causes, not battle. By improving sanitation and working with the Sanitary Commission, she helped to decrease the death rate.”

Florence Nightingale’s legacy is particularly felt at Evelina London and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, where she established the St Thomas’ Hospital and Nightingale Training School for Nurses in 1860.

Under her instruction, Florence Nightingale transformed nursing for generations to come. To recognise her marked impact, nurses who had trained at St Thomas’ Hospital became known as ‘Nightingales’ and received a special Nightingale badge once they completed their training.

“Thanks to Florence Nightingale, nursing became viewed as an honourable vocation,” says Shona.

Shona administering a flu jab to her colleague Vanessa
Shona administering a flu jab to her colleague Vanessa

Shona’s story

The importance of International Year of the Nurse and Midwife was highlighted when the coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a standstill. As cases increased, nurses rallied to look after their patients and try and manage the spread of the disease. 

“Our work increased ten-fold when we began to admit some of the early coronavirus cases in February 2020,” recalls Shona.

As an Infection Prevention and Control Nurse, Shona’s work has been essential to ensure that patients, staff and visitors remained safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Infection Prevention and Control is relevant to every part of healthcare, especially during a pandemic.”

Shona knew she wanted to be a nurse from a young age.

“My grandmother had epilepsy, so she lived with us when I was growing up,” Shona recalls. “I used to help when she had fits and generally when she struggled getting around. Becoming a nurse meant that I could keep looking after people while studying my favourite subjects, human biology and the sciences.”

Thanks to her hard work, Shona has been able to continue doing what she’s loved for the past 23 years of her career: making a positive difference whilst ensuring the safety of patients, their relatives and staff.

“Evelina London is a very friendly, colourful place and I get to work with some brilliant people,” she says. “But my favourite part of the job is the moment when a patient can come out of isolation.”

Shona’s flair for going the extra mile for her patients was officially recognised earlier this year when she received a Nightingale Nurse award

Introduced in 2017 by the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation, this new professional award was created to recognise nurses who showcase integrity, pride and respect in their work and consistently go above and beyond to put patients first and deliver the highest standard of care.

“This year has been extraordinary in many ways,” says Shona. “Although the official ceremony on International Nurses Day was cancelled due to the pandemic, I was very proud to join a virtual ceremony to celebrate becoming a Nightingale Nurse.”
“I feel so honoured to get this award that recognises the positive difference I try to make for all of our patients.”

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