'Keep pushing yourself'

A placement in Ghana has led to national recognition for Temitope Babajide as she is crowned RCNi nursing student award winner 2020

For third year nursing student Temitope, the chance to go to Ghana on a university elective placement was a once in a lifetime opportunity to help change lives in another part of the world.

Over the course of three weeks, Temitope embedded herself in the local Takoradi Ghanaian community, not just as a visiting nursing student, but by wholly immersing herself in the culture – learning some of the local language and even arranging a sports event for the orphanage. But Temitope’s ambition to make an impact started before she even set foot on Ghanaian soil.

Back home in the UK, in advance of the trip, Temitope gathered together books and pencils from friends, family and colleagues to take for the children at the orphanage, and arranged for resources to be shipped before she arrived.

Not long after landing and keen to not waste time getting to work, Temitope set up a widows’ event, which included a health check, empowerment session and free lunch. Thanks to Temitope’s hard work organising the event, and through access to health screening at the event, some women are now receiving appropriate treatment for underlying conditions which had previously gone undetected.

To have the NHS is a privilege and I certainly appreciated it while I was in Ghana

When it came to the hospital environment, Temitope says she was struck by how different things were. “There were big differences between working in hospitals in Ghana and the UK including limited resources with doctors making difficult decisions about treatment options that were both appropriate and available,” she explains. “To have the NHS is a privilege and I certainly appreciated it while I was in Ghana.”

As well as the widows’ event, Temitope hosted a glove awareness presentation at the local hospital using RCN resources. “I got in touch with the RCN to use resources from an RCN glove awareness conference I’d attended,” she says. “Teaching the importance of hand hygiene will make a difference to the community and the nursing staff. I’m still in touch with them and they tell me they’re benefitting from what I could share with them about our own practices.”

Many student nurses take an elective placement in another country as part of their nursing degree course to pick up new skills and gain a fresh perspective, and for Temitope it’s an experience she says she will carry with her throughout her future.

“To have the opportunity to go abroad and see so much in such a short space of time that you would never get to see or do in the UK is one you’ll never forget,” she says. “During my visit I was able to watch different procedures and practise a number of my own skills – taking vital signs, triaging patients and documenting notes in A&E.”

Temitope Babajide outside hospital in GhanaTemitope outside the hospital she worked in in Ghana

As Temitope moves from student to registered nurse, she hopes to continue to make a difference and eventually work in cancer care, something she was involved in during the COVID-19 pandemic as an NHS first responder.

So what’s the key to Temitope’s achievements? “I’ve been supported so well by my trust, university and the RCN. In all I’ve done, collaboration is key,” she enthuses. “The success of the project in Ghana is because of teamwork – a celebration of international collaborative working – from doctors to the shipping company who didn’t take any money from me to ship resources to Ghana.”

 

“For me, it’s about self-development as well, pushing yourself to be the best you can be and going that further step to make a difference. One of my favourite quotes is 'be the change you want to see in the world'. To me, that is what nursing is all about."

Photography: Jonathan Perugia at Gaia Visual

The awards

The RCNi Nurse Awards take place every year celebrating the very best in nursing, from innovative projects to inspiring examples of patient care.

On winning the nursing student category, Temitope said: "With all that has happened in the world this year, in the year of the nurse and midwife and in which nursing has been celebrated globally, I feel very honoured to be named winner. I was pleased just to make it as a finalist. My trip to Ghana was a success because of teamwork and this is a celebration of global collaborative working."

View the virtual RCNi Nursing Student Award ceremony.

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