I qualified as a nurse in the 1980s and have had a varied career so far. I have a background in management, quality assurance and education, and am very passionate about spinal cord injury (SCI) nursing. I have worked in the UK as well as in Haiti and Nepal following the earthquakes there, and I co-founded the International Network of Spinal Cord Injury Nurses.
Last year I was back from Nepal for a short visit. A friend picked me up from the airport and mentioned that another friend was going to pop in for a cup of tea. My sister, who lives over an hour away, also appeared; I was so tired but still the penny did not drop. Then my friend’s husband walked in with his laptop and my other sister was on Skype from Australia, where it was 3am.
I was handed a letter addressed to me from the President of the RCN saying I had been awarded the RCN Fellowship. I knew that it was the top award that can be achieved by a nurse for services to the nursing profession. I never considered myself to be worthy of such an honour.
I just could not believe what I was reading. My friend read the letter out loud, and her husband said: “That is a first, to see Fi speechless!” Then I burst into tears. It was an incredible moment of shock, incredulity, joy, honour and humbleness. I will never, ever forget it.
Nearly a year later and it is still sinking in. Up until my award I had kept a low profile, but I hope this recognition will help me to fly the flag for SCI nursing and for the people we serve. It is a wonderful field of nursing that needs a voice to encourage more nurses to embrace it.
I would like to have a positive input in our RCN Fellow meetings and be as active as I can. This is an exceptional award and I am extremely proud to be among such incredible people who have done so much in their careers for nursing and their patients. It is a real honour to be among “big name” nurses I had only read about in the past. To be shoulder to shoulder with them is mind blowing. In my wildest dreams, I really never expected this.
There are some amazing nurses working under the radar who need to be acknowledged for the wonderful work they do to go above and beyond for others. These nurses are the people who can help shape our profession in the future.