Cherish Otoo, who qualified as a nurse at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) in February 2022 and has a huge passion for nursing, has been shortlisted for the ‘Most Inspirational Nurse’, and the ‘Mary Seacole Award’ for her outstanding contributions to diversity and inclusion.
Speaking as the NHS celebrated International Nurses’ Day this week, the 33-year-old said: “I feel honoured to have been nominated for the Nursing Times awards. I love the career opportunities that nursing provides and the fact that every day is different.
"I am inspired by the resilience and courage of my fellow colleagues and the nurturing support that they have given me throughout my nurse training when I was part of a workforce on multiple wards in the hospital on placements, and then through my preceptorship in the Emergency Department.
“I always ensure that I am acting in a way in which promotes non-discriminative practice and I have a passion for patient-centred care, ensuring that the wishes of patients are always met with dignity and respect. I go home from work knowing that I have given every patient the best care that I can deliver and I receive huge job satisfaction from that.”
Cherish, who had previously worked for the trust in a non-clinical role, was one of the first people in the UK to enrol and qualify as a nurse through the University of Cumbria’s Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship programme, which was the first of its kind in the country when it launched in 2018.
On graduating, she secured a nursing role at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary’s Emergency Department.
She said: “The apprenticeship scheme opens opportunities for people who wouldn't usually have the opportunity to become nurses.
"There is no way I would have been able to quit my full-time job and go to university, and train to be a nurse through the traditional pathway. I think that everyone who can have the opportunity to get on the apprenticeship should absolutely do it. It's a life changing experience that the trust is offering.”
Cherish always takes an open minded, non-judgemental and welcoming approach to caring for patients.
She said: “Diversity in nurses within the NHS brings innovation and provides patients with an inclusive service, thus promoting and delivering high quality patient care.
“Recognising and valuing diversity and inclusion is a part of my nursing role where my passion lies. I enjoy connecting with nurses at ground level, and supporting and encouraging the growth of the trust’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Staff Network.
“Whether I am sharing my lived experiences, or advocating for and representing others, my passion for equality, diversity and inclusion is what I find most rewarding and fulfilling.
“I am grateful to all of the BAME Staff Network members for allowing me to be a part of their wonderful group, and to my managers and colleagues who always facilitate my ability to connect and join these meetings.”
Karmini McCann, who is head of culture transformation for UHMBT, said: “I would like to thank Cherish for being a true ambassador and driver of change for diversity and inclusion. Cherish is highly articulate and she speaks up for what is right, and for equity and fairness. She raises the voices of her colleagues and shares her own experiences in a way that is always constructive so people listen even when it is difficult to hear.
“Cherish has proactively connected with our anti-racism and other equality programmes, including being an active member of our BAME Staff Network and our anti-racism influencers group. This is something incredibly powerful, particularly as most of the time she has been the representative of her staff group and ethnic background.
"Cherish also uses social media to raise awareness of equality issues, reaching a wide audience who connect with her in a different way to our more corporate work.
“The impact Cherish has made will have a long-term benefits - raising awareness of equality issues and experiences, supporting the growth of our BAME network, developing our race equality allies and enhancing the knowledge and understanding of colleagues across our entire trust.”
Bridget Lees, executive chief nurse for UHMBT, said: “Being shortlisted for two national awards is an amazing achievement and is testament to Cherish’s hard work and passion for nursing, diversity and equality.
“I’m delighted that the degree apprenticeship programme created the opportunity for Cherish to qualify as a nurse. Cherish is already making a big impression on the profession and she should be very proud of her achievements. I wish her all the best for the awards and her future career.”
Paul Armstrong, who is head of apprenticeships at the University of Cumbria, said: “The University of Cumbria is proud of the collaborative role it plays with partners to upskill workforce teams to address higher-level skills and sector needs.
"It is also our university’s mission to support students of the future, helping them to become skilled, resilient and ready to lead the long-term recovery society faces and to support our communities to be more prosperous and to thrive.”
The winners of the Student Nursing Times Awards will be announced during a ceremony at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel, which takes place on Friday May 27.
There are apprenticeship opportunities across UHMBT and more information can be found by emailing [email protected]