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Student nurse inspired by own treatment shortlisted for national award

A student nurse at the University of Birmingham who was inspired to go into nursing by the care she received at Worcestershire Royal Hospital has been shortlisted for a national nursing award.

Helena Corbett, from Worcester, has been a regular patient at Worcestershire Royal Hospital since the age of nine after being diagnosed with significant Crohn’s Disease - a lifelong condition in which parts of the digestive system become inflamed.

Throughout her childhood, Helena continued to attend the children’s clinic at Worcestershire Royal every six weeks for blood tests, medication and ongoing investigations, as well as being admitted to the children’s ward on a number of occasions due to complications with her condition.

By the age of 10, the experience of these regular visits and the dedicated care and treatment she received from the Clinic had inspired Helena to want to go into children’s nursing herself.

Helena said: “I cannot thank the staff from the Clinic at Worcestershire Royal enough and I feel indebted to them for the care and support they provided me. These are the nurses who inspired me at ten years old to become a children’s nurse myself. I found that the passion they had and the attributes they displayed towards me, also reflected within me”.

After choosing to transition into adult care services at the earliest opportunity to take a greater role in her on-going care, Helena was intent on accomplishing her dream of becoming a children’s nurse to help other children who have conditions like her own.

Successfully passing her GCSEs and A-Levels - despite the added pressure of her on-going condition which she was still regularly visiting hospital for - Helena was accepted onto her first choice of nurse training degree at the University of Birmingham.

Once at university, Helena stayed in regular contact with the team from the Children’s Clinic at Worcestershire Royal Hospital, despite not receiving her care from them anymore. The staff who inspired her to take up her new profession remained supportive and motivating for Helena.

In the second year of her student nurse training, Helena was able to choose where she undertook her next training placement. Keen to go back to where her desire to become a nurse originated and see the Children’s Clinic from the nursing side as well as the patient side, Helena undertook a four-week placement in the clinic at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

Helena said: “I was told that I could arrange my placement anywhere, so I chose to go back to a place that I had been able to experience as a patient. The idea of being able to go back to the Children’s Clinic ‘on the other side’ as a student really interested me”.

Melanie Chippendale, Advanced Nurse Practitioner from the Children’s Clinic at Worcestershire Royal Hospital, said: “It was obvious from the start of her placement that Helena was a hardworking and committed student. Her rapport with staff, children and families was excellent and it was very apparent that she draws on all of her experiences both personal and professional to guide her nursing practice”.

In April this year, Helena was nominated and then shortlisted as one of ten national finalists, for the Student Children’s Nurse of the Year award in the prestigious Student Nursing Times Awards. Her nomination told of her inspirational story in overcoming the adversity of her condition and experiences of care at Worcestershire Royal in her childhood shaping her future ambitions to go into children’s nursing.

Helena added: “I was amazed to be shortlisted for the award against so many other amazing nurses and entries. My journey has not always been easy; there have been relapses along the way, but I have always remained strong and resilient because of the overwhelming care, support and empathy from the Children’s Clinic team”.

Melanie Chippendale from the Clinic, added: “I’m delighted she’s been nominated for this award, I cannot think of a more deserving candidate. I feel sure that she will be a fantastic nurse and achieve her dream of becoming a specialist nurse for children with gastrointestinal disorders”.

Helena has also begun to volunteer sharing her personal experience at a local Inflammatory Bowel Disease Parent and Patient Panel. The panel hosts events for children and families with the condition where Helena shares her story, reassuring them that they are not alone, and with the hope of inspiring others to follow her path into nursing.

Recently Helena received a job offer from Birmingham Children’s Hospital to start this autumn once she has completed her degree. Birmingham Children’s Hospital is also of significance to Helena as once she takes up her role, she will be nursing children on the very same ward she was first admitted to more than a decade ago.

Helena writes an online blog about her experiences of treatment and her student nursing journey. You can read her updates on: www.meyouandcrohns.wordpress.com