Coonabarabran Health Service staff member, Shannon Richards, has been awarded winner in the Assistant in Nursing category at the fifth annual NSW Health Excellence in Nursing and Midwifery Awards, held in Sydney on Wednesday, 7 September.
The daughter of Jason and Donna Richards, Shannon attended Coonabarabran High School where she completed her Assistant in Nursing Certificate as an elective subject in Years 11 and 12.
Impressed with her ability and initiative during work placement at Baradine Multi Purpose Health Service, Shannon was offered part-time work at the centre.
On completing her HSC studies, Shannon took up the offer of employment at Baradine, and also gained a part-time position at Coonabarabran Health Service.
Her nomination for the prestigious Excellence in Nursing award came as a shock for the 19-year-old.
“Out of the blue I received the letter informing me I was a finalist in the awards,” Shannon said.
“I was so surprised and thought, ‘Why would someone nominate me?’
“I didn’t even know there were such awards - but it was pretty cool!”
Shannon was invited to attend the awards’ ceremony at Parliament House, Sydney, where she was one of 32 finalists, chosen from 244 nominees, contesting 11 award categories.
“It was so exciting,” Shannon said.
“Mum, dad and myself were greeted at the door of Parliament House and I was congratulated by the assistant to the Health Minister.
“They made it a very big deal and it was very nice.”
During the presentations, Shannon was announced winner of the Assistant in Nursing category and accepted her award from Health Minister, Jillian Skinner.
“Nurses and midwives are often the unsung heroes of the hospital system, working skilfully and tirelessly to ensure their patients receive the best care,” Mrs Skinner said.
“When patients reflect on their experience in the NSW health system, many remember the kind words and comfort provided by a nurse or midwife.”
Chief nursing and midwifery officer, Jacqui Cross, said the record number of nominations showed the high regard in which the annual awards are held.
“Our nurses and midwives do an outstanding job caring for the more than two million patients who are admitted to our public hospitals each year,” Ms Cross said.
“Today we honour a select few, but each day we should give thanks for the 49,900 nurses and midwives who work in the NSW public health system.”
Western NSW Local Health District director nursing and midwifery, Adrian Fahy, said the award was a testament to Shannon’s hard work and highlighted the importance of Assistants in Nursing in providing quality patient care.
“We are all very proud of Shannon for her achievement in winning this award, and it is great to see her hard work rewarded at today’s ceremony,” Mr Fahy said.
“Assistants in Nursing are an integral part of our health system as they help deliver and support care provided to our patients.
“We are very proud to have such a strong and dedicated nursing workforce, and I would like to take this opportunity to publicly acknowledge the incredible work that all our nurses do all day, every day.”
Shannon said she found nursing a rewarding career and had dedicated herself to further study.
During the past 18 months, while holding down two part-time nursing positions, she took on the challenge of gaining her Endorsed Enrolled Nurse (EEN) qualifications, through TAFE at Dubbo, and recently received her certification in this field.
The next step for Shannon is a move from Coonabarabran, having secured an EEN position at Orange Base Hospital, where she will commence duties next month.
“With nursing, I love the look of appreciation on people’s faces after they come in sick and see how much care we put into them,” Shannon said.
“I also love the team work, where everyone supports each other.
“But overall, I just enjoy all aspects of nursing, it’s very rewarding - and I was extremely honoured to receive this award.”
Shannon Richards received her Excellence in Nursing and Midwifery state award from Health Minister, Jillian Skinner, at a presentation ceremony at Parliament House.