Oxford School of Nursing and Midwifery

Raluca and Pedro talk about the Student Nursing Times Awards

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Pedro and Raluca - Brookes nursing students global challenge

In this interview, nursing students Pedro Simas and Raluca Vagner talk about what it means to them to be shortlisted for this prestigious award. And they expand on the importance of their innovative project...

So, how does it feel to be nominated for a Student Nursing Times Award?

Raluca: It's really a combination of feelings. We were nominated by Liz Westcott, who is the Head of Nursing at Oxford Brookes - so that in itself is an incredible feeling. But the Student Nursing Times Awards are so prestigious and being nominated and shortlisted made us feel proud and humble at the same time. I guess my highlight was to receive all the testimonials from people we have worked with. Whenever I have a hard day (which we all know happens after a long shift), I just read and re-read those testimonials. It makes makes it all worthwhile because all these incredible people believe in us and in our passion.

Pedro: When I first heard about it, I was lost for words. It made all the hard work worthwhile.

Innovation is not important, it is vital. We believe that for all health and social service providers, the future is NOW, as we evolve a new culture and develop the new status quo.

Raluca Vagner, Oxford Brookes nursing student

You were nominated for an Innovation in Practice award - tell us a little about the project that got you nominated...

Raluca: Our project involves creating a website that can be a unique single point of access where people with amputations, their families and clinicians can find reliable information. I know creating a website doesn’t sound so special, but this really will do something different as it brings all the resources together in a way that doesn’t exist at the moment (including info on services available, phantom pain, peer support, useful flyers, self-managing apps, to name just a few). Irrespective of where they are on their care pathway - whether you’re looking at prevention, pre-amputation, post-amputation or going home - this will provide comprehensive support. 

It is also innovative and robust because we secured the input and experience of clinicians across various trusts, national charities as well as patients who have experienced amputations.

And where did the idea for the project come from? What the journey been like from the original idea to being shortlisted for an award?

Raluca: The idea was triggered by a clinical placement where we met a significant number of people with amputations due to disease, as opposed to trauma. The start-up of the project was fuelled by frustration with the lack of information, as well as the desire to support our patients to the best of our abilities. We, as student nurses, found it difficult to navigate the local and national system to access information that might have been helpful for our patients. We started to look closely at this area by meeting with amputee charity founders, amputees themselves, as well as various departments across the UK. We realised that most often the services needed were there, however it was difficult to find them. The support patients received relied on the knowledge of their clinicians and therefore it was inconsistent (as it depend on where they lived). These meetings, by the way, were only possible with financial support and recognition from Oxford Brookes Social Entrepreneurship Awards. We now have a website platform which we are launching in June 2018. We also have interest from Health Education England to discuss and develop it further as well as support from OUH, King's College Hospital and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

Pedro:  We started this as a project in our first year, first placement. We are now halfway through our degree and we are more determined than ever to develop it. This is not just a pet project for us; the extra hours, meetings, travels, study we have done for it alongside our degree has a purpose. And this purpose has helped us to think outside of the box and overcome challenges and restrictions. It has made us get out of our comfort zone, be curious, be critical, be better. And once we’ve qualified it will give us the courage to keep challenging for better practice, to not just tip-toe around the elephant in the room, but to make changes that improve people’s lives.

Where can we find out more news and developments on the project?

Raluca: As said, we are launching the website in June and news and developments will be posted there. We are also preparing a marketing campaign to raise the awareness of this innovative new source of reliable information. Our Twitter is @stumpedUK and our Facebook page: StumpedUK.

Why is innovation in nursing so important? What do you want to see the profession achieve in the future?

Raluca: Innovation is not important, it is vital. We believe that for all health and social service providers, the future is NOW, as we evolve a new culture and develop the new status quo. We need to build sustainability through innovation. And this way of thinking and working should and can be embraced by each and every single one of us, from students to senior nurses, as it affects all, at all levels and we can all make a valuable contribution.

Congrats again! Oh, one final question (because this always gets asked with awards): is there anyone you’d like to thank?

Pedro: This project has changed so much from the initial idea to what it is today and we have so many people to be grateful to. But if anyone has been there every single step of the way and supported us are Jeff Willmore, Liz Westcott, Samia Kamal, Steve McNeice and Andrew Myers.