Brookes nursing students compete in The Global Challenge

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Nursing students Pedro and Raluca

This weekend (30 April – 1 May) two nursing students from Oxford Brookes University will be competing with students from 14 institutions across the world in the final of a global competition to address social or environmental issues.

The Global Challenge is a chance for students and recent graduates of participating institutions to learn more about the issues they care about and present their findings to the world.

It is run by the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, in partnership with institutions across the world which each run the challenge themselves.

Tackling global challenges starts with understanding a problem and its wider context, rather than jumping straight into a business plan or an idea for a quick fix. Participants are asked to demonstrate a deep understanding of a pressing social or environmental issue by mapping out the landscape of the current solutions and identifying missing opportunities for positive change.

First-year nursing students Raluca Vagner and Pedro Faria Simas, won the opportunity, out of four other teams who entered, to represent Oxford Brookes University in this competition.

As student nurses this project has meant so much more to us and has shaped the way we work with our patients and interact with our colleagues.

Pedro Faria Simas, Oxford Brookes nursing student

Their project, supported by Karen Fenn, Sister and Vascular Nurse at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is looking into the emotional or psychological support accessible to people who have had or are going to have an amputation.

Raluca Vagner said: “The idea of the project was triggered by a personal experience whilst in practice of a patient in his early 50's who had one of his legs amputated. Despite having excellent nursing and medical care, he was struggling emotionally.

“Currently, little is done for non-trauma amputees who are discharged from the rehab programme, if they have qualified for one, and many go home suffering with strong emotional feelings such as loss of identity, low mood and altered body image.

“We have met with different stakeholders, such as charity founders, amputees and professionals who have shared their knowledge and experience with us and have been the source of our passion to continue with this project even when we encountered obstacles.

“We feel that there is so much more that we can do for amputees and their families which can change their lives.”

Oxford Global Challenge

The Global Challenge forms part of the social innovation strand of the Oxford Brookes Social Entrepreneur Awards (OBSEA); an award-winning programme for students, staff and recent graduates which provides them with the funding, resources, networks and confidence to think creatively about solving some of the world’s most pressing social issues.

Raluca and Pedro entered the Global Challenge via OBSEA and after pitching their idea in a Dragon’s Den-style event along with the other teams, they were chosen to attend the final.

Pedro Faria Simas said: “Having the chance to represent Oxford Brookes is a prize in itself as we have been so fortunate in having the OBSEA team supporting us every step of the way. As student nurses this project has meant so much more to us and has shaped the way we work with our patients and interact with our colleagues."

Dr Ann Ewens, Head of the Department of Applied Health and Professional Development at Oxford Brookes University and Faculty Champion for OBSEA said: “We are delighted to see two of our nursing students representing the University in this worldwide challenge. They are very passionate about their idea and have worked so hard to make it to the final; I think their success will be an inspiration to other healthcare students wanting to get involved in social innovation.

“The whole of our faculty have been behind the duo every step of the way and we are currently supporting them as they prepare their findings and presentation ready for the final. We wish them the very best of luck and will have our fingers crossed.”

Jeff Willmore, OBSEA Programme Co-ordinator at Oxford Brookes University said: “OBSEA is now in its fifth year and has gone from strength to strength. Thanks to funding support from Santander and our Alumni, along with enabling students, recent graduates and staff to apply for up to £5,000 towards their project, it helps participants gain experience in solving real world issues.

“It also boosts their employability with new skills, networks and opportunities. Since we incorporated the Global Challenge, uptake has been fantastic and we provide a full programme of events and mentoring support to help teams with the challenge.”

The final event is free to attend and takes place on Monday 1 May at Said Business School, Oxford. To register to attend visit