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Our pioneering nurses

Nominations are now closed, but you can still find out how we identified and selected our pioneering nurses of 2020.

Identifying and showcasing pioneering nurses

To start with, we identified key attributes in the work of Florence Nightingale that we wanted to celebrate as we recognised their relevance to contemporary pioneering nursing today. Where these attributes were evident in other pioneering nurses such as Dame Cicely Saunders we wanted to highlight those too.

Over the coming months we are delighted to be showcasing 30 pioneering nurses from around the world who demonstrate these attributes and are driving palliative nursing forward to change the experience of people approaching the end of life. They are nurses who are shaping the face of end of life care at a local, national and international level. Where appropriate, we are facilitating any further development they may require to help them achieve even more in the future.

Here are the eight key attributes of a pioneering nurse that we identified:

A person driven by the spirit of compassion

This nurse recognises suffering and responds in an empathetic and loving way, making every effort to alleviate it. Their efforts to improve the suffering of people in their care and those close to them at the end of life are tireless and they are committed to effecting this change across society, including for people who are at risk of being marginalised or excluded.

A campaigner for change

This nurse is committed to doing ‘the right thing’ and will take risks and work outside their comfort zone to campaign for change on behalf of others.

They are courageous and, when they see inequalities, poor practice or failures in care, they are not afraid to hold people to account and call for action. They are provocative and brave in driving change and will speak up for people who are at risk of being forgotten or ignored.

A super connector

This nurse forms strong, personal relationships with people in their care, fellow nurses, colleagues and others in positions of authority. They nurture relationships, strive to earn the respect of those they work with and always seek to provide person-centred care – despite the pressures of the job.

They bring people together, recognising individual strengths and draw on these to improve services and support for dying people. This connected nurse is always considering how to do things differently so that excellent care is the norm and will seek partnerships with all who hold this vision.

A public health champion

This nurse realises that good care is far more than simply managing a person’s symptoms and recognises the opportunities to improve public health and wellbeing through education, supportive environments and encouraging public participation in care. They share knowledge, skills and power, actively engaging in health promotion to effect widespread change.

They strive to engage the pubic with the ever present reality of dying, death, loss and bereavement and recognise the risks of over-professionalisation of end of life. They realise this needs redress and champion community action to achieve this; also finding ways of integrating it with professional care and support.

An innate visionary leader

This nurse is a strong and visionary leader who sees the potential for change and whose inspirational approach encourages others to act too. They are clear about the need to do things differently and help support the development of others to aid reform.

They are able to see a different tomorrow; looking beyond immediate demand and are not deterred by potential obstacles. They have the focus and the courage to lead in uncertain times, instilling similar values in others that respond to their call for action.

A protagonist for excellence in care

This nurse is unrelenting in their ambition to improve care, services and health systems. They actively identify and understand the myriad aspects of care that would benefit from improvement. They are constructively critical, even in areas of their own work. They actively seek feedback and will genuinely listen to those in their care. They strive to capture a rich panorama of experience through systematic analysis and review.

They adopt a robust and carefully planned approach to quality improvement, consistently reviewing and refining plans accordingly. They nurture an authentic culture of collaboration where excellence is valued and sought by colleagues who are inspired to consistently strive to do their best. They are adept at encouraging engagement from others ensuring these efforts for improvements are enacted.

A creative and critical thinker

This nurse is curious and always strives to broaden their perspective and understanding through enquiry, reflection and debate. They actively share their thinking with others and will often write or present to provoke change.

They know that radical transformation is required if we are to meet the growing and changing demand for end of life care and they recognise that nurses need to be part of the design and the solution. They can see the bigger picture, uncover opportunities and creatively consider how best to seize them.

An ambassador for the nursing profession

This nurse is passionate about their profession and is committed to supporting the development of other nurses through policy, research, practice development or leadership. They seek recognition for the vital role nurses play and consistently strive to gain financial investment in order to improve understanding of this important role and its rightful status in our society. They encourage pride in the profession and actively celebrate nursing achievements.

They embody qualities that inspire others to give their best and are relentless in voicing the contribution of nursing to society.