AN ‘INSPIRATIONAL’ nursing student who has juggled being a mum, a learner and a volunteer in Africa has won a national award.
Jessica Vaughan from Rugby was ‘in shock’ when her name was read out as the winner of the Nursing Times Student of the Year award for adult nursing at a glitzy event at London’s Grosvenor Hotel on Park Lane.
It was the result of nearly three years of hard work and selfless volunteering, as well as being a mum to her little girl.
Jess, 31, has combined learning her trade at Coventry University with placements at hospitals across the city and Warwickshire, and even spending a week at a hospital in Kenya.
Jess said: “I didn’t think I would win – I really didn’t expect it. I was honoured to be a finalist which itself is an achievement. I was in shock and didn’t even want to go on to the stage!
“It was so nice to be in a room with so many inspiring nurses and I then had an interview for a job the next day, so it was a whirlwind two days.”
Jess continued her rich vein of fine form as she aced the interview and now has a job at George Eliot Hospital’s A&E department in Nuneaton awaiting her when she finishes her degree.
And her biggest fan, six-year-old daughter Aurora, has ensured the celebrations have continued since the awards.
“She was so happy for me and made posters which say ‘best nurse ever’ and she has been carrying the trophy around,” Jess said. “I was a bit worried about how I would manage the course as a mum, but I have managed it.”
Despite her successes so far, Jess admits that it took some time for her to find the right vocation.
“It took a while to find a job that fit me. I wanted to do a job that made a difference and to work with people. My initial degree was in sociology about social justice, equality and helping people, so finding this job is a dream role.”
Jess’ volunteering work took her to Kenya for a week which she admits was harder than she thought, adding: “It was quite eye-opening as it was a hospital for poorer people, but they still had to pay for the care.
“I want to do some more humanitarian work when my daughter is older – it’s a really good learning experience.”
The judges at the awards ceremony described Jess as an ‘inspirational student nurse’ whose placement abroad and charitable works make her ‘a role model to fellow peers’.
They added: “She applies a new lens in capturing the nursing profession, and this is exhibited in published works and evidenced in patient care delivery. The profession will benefit from her innovative perspectives and attitudes to care.”