A De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) Nursing graduate is "shocked" to have won a national award after being nominated by the students she inspires and supports.
Lesley Wright was announced as Mentor of the Year at the Student Nursing Times Awards, which celebrate student achievements and honour those committed to developing new nursing talent.
"I can't believe it," said Lesley.
Her nominees include seven DMU students, who said she "stands out" as a placement mentor.
They surprised her with the news by all turning up to what she thought was a meeting with just one of them!
"I was totally overwhelmed," said Lesley, a staff nurse for Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust. "There were eight nominations and the students had, unbeknown to me, all arranged to be there.
"I am delighted to win in recognition of developing a successful student link nurse role, and being able to provide what students felt was lacking from their previous placements."
It was her own experiences of placements, when she did not always feel welcomed, that led Lesley to develop a package of support.
This includes contacting all students prior to their placement, ensuring they have at least two weeks off duty, giving out a pack full of practical information and providing clinical teaching sessions.
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"This has eased their anxieties in starting a new placement and made students feel welcomed," she said.
Lesley also helps student nurses understand the importance of caring and compassion, as she was inspired to be a nurse after seeing the quality of care her dying mother received.
She enrolled on the DMU Adult Nursing course as a mature student, enjoying the university sessions, and applied for a permanent staff nurse position at Hinckley and Bosworth Community Hospital after an "excellent" placement experience.
Lesley, 48, said: "Becoming a nurse is still the best decision I ever made. I love being able to make a difference to people at the most vulnerable times of their lives.
"I have been at the hospital for nearly six years and am extremely happy."
Lesley has been back to DMU for the postgraduate Mentorship programme, after which she was asked to become the hospital's North Ward student link nurse. Among the DMU students who have been mentored by Lesley are Stacy Cort, Bethany Galligan and Stacey Gavin, who made a joint effort to get in touch with other mentees for the award nomination.
Stacey, who has started a job at University Hospital Coventry ahead of graduating this summer, said: "The reason we nominated Lesley is she supported us the most, gave us an orientation pack, got in touch before placement and would teach additional skills relating to palliative care.
"She stood out."
Lesley was presented with her award at a ceremony in London.
Posted on Monday 10th April 2017