Hello, I am Wafa from Saudi Arabia; I started my PhD study (full time) this April. My research topic will be about “Assessing the Needs of Breast Cancer Survivors in Saudi Arabia”. I believe that this study has the potential to help breast cancer patients break their silence and improve their quality of life.
My masters degree (MSc. Nursing Science) was obtained from Trinity College in Dublin. Being abroad for the last two years has helped me to become more mature, independent, self-confident and open-minded; especially in terms of change.
When I first started, my feelings were a mixture of panic and excitement. However, with excellent help from academic and administrative staff in Cardiff University, all the worries faded away and I was able to “collect” myself again.
I really enjoyed joining Mrs. Sarah Fotheringham this week on a visit to Fitzalan High School, where I helped to promote nursing as a career. It was an amazing experience to talk about nursing, in Saudi Arabia and in the world generally, to teenagers who came from various different backgrounds. I am looking forward to our next school visit as I believe that nursing is a truly challenging and exciting career option.
I was delighted to be nominated for the RCN specialist nursing award this year. A colleague asked if she could nominate me because she felt that running my nurse led diagnostic, follow up and counselling clinics and leading the service that Breast care patients receive was wonderful. A friend of both of us had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and had experienced the journey through to diagnosis in my clinic and it was at this point that she realised how nurses with advanced clinical skills can make a real difference. She was also nominating me for doing my PhD at this grand old age and being successful in getting a Florence Nightingale research scholarship this year. My nominator put together a very moving, complimentary summary of my achievements to date and why she felt I should receive the Nurse of the year award.
Following submission to the Royal college of Nursing judges, I was shortlisted for an interview and had to present my work and achievements over the last 20 years but especially the last year to a panel of senior nurses, academics and Welsh Assembly government members. Although it was really strange presenting what I had done in breast care since taking up post in 1991 and I felt like I was showing off, it also brought it home to me how much of my nursing career I have devoted to the speciality and what I have actually achieved. The panel were delighted and I came out feeling really positive. A few days later I had a letter to say I was a finalist at City Hall on the 28th November. That in itself was a great feeling and the fact that somebody had taken the time and effort to write a statement about my work and dedication to nursing was amazing. I didn’t realise that there was a winner and a runner up for each category at the awards and in total there were 9 different categories but when I heard this, I was sure I would be the runner up of my category because there is so much extraordinary work being conducted by all grades of nursing staff across Wales and I was so grateful just to be there.
The evening at City Hall was absolutely fantastic. The food was delicious, the company was excellent and there was a very warm friendly atmosphere. The RCN had really gone the extra mile to make this first Welsh Nurse of the Year a real success. Everybody dressed up in their best frocks and the highlight of the evening was Jason Mohammad the compare. He was both funny and very pleasant to the eye. That said, I’m probably old enough to be his mum! Nevertheless, I found myself queuing with all the other ladies for a photo with him!! My husband definitely saw a different side to me that night!
The real highlight of the night was when they called out my name as the winner of the specialist award. I was truly delighted and overwhelmed. Sheila Hunt and Ruth Walker Nurse Executive Cardiff and Vale were the first to congratulate me and it was great to have them there to see it. I was on a high for the rest of the week and the week ended with our annual breast ball again at City Hall where all my team congratulated me and gave a public announcement in front of past and present patients. This again was an amazing feeling. I could get quite used to the life of being a celebrity!!
I’m in the mood now for winning and so next year I’m hoping that somebody will nominate me for the research and innovation award because anything’s possible!