Rachel lands top award for her learning

Heath Award winner Rachel Culyer. Picture by Simon Veit-Wilson.
Heath Award winner Rachel Culyer. Picture by Simon Veit-Wilson.

A newly-qualified nurse has been honoured for her dedication to the profession.

Nurse Rachel Culyer is one of only six nurses in the country to receive the special ‘Heath Award’ for the commitment she has shown during her nursing degree.

The Heath Award is presented each year to the best nurses and midwives graduating from Northumbria University’s nursing and midwifery programmes.

Rachel, from Killingworth, went straight into a job in the Critical Care Unit at Newcastle’s RVI after completing her degree in 2017.

The 28-year-old was inspired to train as a nurse whist working for NHS Direct and the 111 service. She completed a pre-nursing year with Northumbria University, working as a healthcare assistant at Sunderland Royal Hospital, before starting her nursing degree at Northumbria.

She said: “The pre-nursing scheme was a great way of finding out if nursing suited me. I then went straight onto the degree programme at Northumbria and loved every part of it, especially the variety of placements.

“I was lucky enough to get a placement in Accident and Emergency in my third year and enjoyed the fast paced environment, so knew critical care was where I wanted to be.”

During her degree, Rachel was also the class rep for her tutor group and particularly enjoyed supporting her fellow students, helping to resolve any issues that cropped up.

She added: “I loved my studies and I love my job. I wouldn’t want to do anything else. I was amazed to be nominated for a Heath Award and didn’t expect it at all. It’s great to be appreciated and I’m unashamedly proud.”

This year’s winners, including Rachel, all achieved First Class Honours in their nursing degree programmes and were chosen after being nominated by academics and hospital staff with whom they worked whilst on placement.

Helen Lamont, Chair of the Heath Trust and former Nursing and Patient Services Director at the Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Nursing and midwifery are such critical roles, and the quality of care makes all the difference to the patient experience.

“These awards were bequeathed by a former surgeon at ‘The Infirmary’, now the Royal Victoria Infirmary, to celebrate excellence in the practice and theory of nursing and midwifery.”

Professor Alison Machin, Head of Nursing, Midwifery and Health at Northumbria University, added: “The standard of nominations for the awards has, yet again, been exceptionally high. Northumbria University is the principal provider of nurse education in the North East of England, and we are privileged to have such hard working, compassionate and high achieving students who develop into high quality, skilled professionals.

“It is a real honour to teach and work with them, and it’s wonderful to be able to recognise their efforts in this way.”

For more information on nursing, midwifery and health courses at Northumbria University, visit www.northumbria.ac.uk/nursing