Monthly Archives: December 2014

RGU’s top Nursing and Midwifery students receive awards

The highest achieving nursing and midwifery professionals in the north-east have been recognised by RGU.

The university’s School of Nursing and Midwifery announced the winners of its annual prizes at a ceremony in the Faculty of Health and Social Care on Tuesday, December 16. A new mental health nursing prize created in memory of a dearly missed member of staff at RGU has been awarded for the first time. The Dr Andrew McKie Memoria Quaich was donated by the McKie family after the popular mental health lecturer passed away last year.

Other awards conferred at the ceremony were the Mentor of the Year Award, the Jennie Parry Prize for Clinical and Academic Excellence and the Honourable Lady Bannatyne Prize for students in the field of Children and Young People’s (CYP) Nursing.

The Dr Andrew McKie Memorial Quaich was presented to Alan Rucroft from Boddam who was a student in Dr McKie’s personal tutor group. The award will be presented each year to a mental health nursing student who, on completion of their pre-registration nurse education, demonstrates the nursing values held so dear by Dr McKie. Alan (30), who graduated this year with a degree in Mental Health Nursing, received his award from a member of Andy’s family. He said: “I was very surprised to receive the award but also very proud. Andy was a fantastic lecturer and person. I was glad to have the chance to be taught by him and have his 1. Chris McKie Alan Rucroft Rosie McKieinterest in mental illness and ethics inspire me.” Alan’s application for the award was supported by his personal tutor Josey Mackenzie. She said: “Alan continued to grow in confidence and competence during the course and this is reflected in his the excellent grade A achieved for placement experience.  He could be relied upon to produce work of a very high standard and he had really good relationships with patients and staff. “His calm influencing manner was described as a clear asset when working with people who were distressed. Alan was a quiet and gentle student with excellent listening skills. As he grew in confidence he shared excellent insights within group tutorials. His caring nature enabled good supportive relationships with peers, clinical and academic staff.”

Senior Staff Nurse at NHS Grampian Tanya Laurenson, from Aberdeen, received the Mentor of the Year award from Professor Ian Murray. She was nominated by nursing student Kathryn Robertson following her placement at the Emergency Care Centre in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI). Tanya (31), said: “I am delighted to be recognised as Mentor of the Year and it is an honour to have been nominated by Kathryn following her placement in my team.  “As well as mentoring Kathryn during the placement I was also progressing in my career to senior staff 2. Ian Murray Tanya Laurenson Kathryn Robertsonnurse. Although there were challenges adapting to my new role it was important to remain focused on the educational development of our future nurses and I’m very please I’ve been able to play my part in that.” Tanya worked with Kathryn to build her confidence and also helped her to develop vital nursing skills in a busy work environment.  Kathryn said: “Tanya worked very hard with me and helped me gain so much more confidence and taught me mountains of knowledge. I cannot express the amount of help and support she has given me. Tanya has really helped me grow as a person and I left the placement like a different person and it is thanks to her. I really cannot thank Tanya enough and couldn’t have asked for a better mentor. Any nursing student would be extremely lucky to have Tanya as their mentor.”

Mental Health Nursing student Rob Bradley, from Aberdeen, scooped the Jennie Parry Prize for Clinical and Academic Excellence. The award was donated by the retired Head of School for a student who, throughout their training, demonstrated actual or potential leadership and clinical excellence. Rob (36), is a staff nurse at the Skene ward in the city’s Royal Cornhill Hospital. He said: “I came into nursing at a crossroads in my life. It has given me focus, self-confidence and fulfilment and I’m proud to have been able to repay some of that. “Winning the Jenny Parry award means a great deal to me and I would like to thank the amazing people who have supported, taught and inspired me through my three years at university.”

Rob, who received his award from Mrs Jennie Parry, received support for his award application from his 3. Ian Murray Rob Bradley Jennie Parrypersonal tutor Josey Mackenzie. She said: “Rob proceeded to gain in confidence and competence throughout the course and his excellent standards of care were reflected in his grades. He was enthusiastic to learn and gain different experiences and demonstrated an ability to provide patient focused care, and could challenge appropriately when an individual’s needs were not being met. Rob consistently demonstrated an extremely high level of motivation and commitment to advancing his knowledge about mental health and caring for people. He interacted extremely well with peers, academic and clinical staff and could be relied upon to provide genuine support and encouragement to others.”

The Honourable Lady Bannatyne Prize for students in the field of Children and Young People’s (CYP) Nursing was awarded to Ciaira O’Keeffe. Lady Bannatyne lectured at the university for 28 years, primarily specialising in children and young people nursing. During this time she was known by her former name, Mrs Rose Smith. After her retirement in 2009 she married Lord Bannatyne (Iain Peebles) – a judge of the High Court of Justiciary and Court of Session in Scotland – and consequently took the honorary title of Lady Bannatyne. Ciaira (23), who is originally from Cork, Ciaira O’KeeffeIreland, was nominated by Helen Muir, Practice Education Lecturer at RGU, and received her award from Lady Bannatyne. Ciaira said: “Finding out I had won the Honourable Lady Bannatyne Prize was a huge surprise. It was a difficult decision just over three years ago to leave Ireland to pursue my studies, but I worked very hard along with all my classmates at RGU. We received great support from our lecturers and I feel honoured to be recognised with this award.” Helen Muir said: “In terms of on-going commitment to her studies Ciara worked very hard. She was always very enthusiastic and motivated and keen to learn. She demonstrated passion for the field of CYP Nursing during her placements and was always helpful and supportive to her fellow students. Ciara also took an active approach to ensure her progression throughout the programme by seeking help from appropriate sources in a timely manner, attending classes and participating actively in classroom teaching.” Alison McLennan, Head of Practice Learning at RGU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, said: “Dr Andrew McKie was renowned for his humanity, scholarship, professionalism and passion for mental health nursing. He was an outstanding academic, a true friend, teacher and colleague to many at the School of Nursing and Midwifery and beyond. We’re proud to award the Dr Andrew McKie Memorial Quaich for the first time alongside our other annual prizes. I would like to offer my personal congratulations to all of our prize winners for their outstanding contributions to the on-going educational development of nurses. Choosing the recipients for each award was no easy task due to the high standards of all the nurses and midwives who were nominated and I know this year’s winners will continue to show their passion for educational development and the nursing profession.”

Stained Glass Panel

Stained glass screen to remember Dr Andrew McKie

A unique piece of art has been installed at RGU in memory of a much loved and respected lecturer who passed away last year.

Staff at the university’s School of Nursing and Midwifery commissioned a stained glass screen which celebrates the life of Mental Health Nursing lecturer Dr Andrew McKie (known as Andy) who passed away in June 2013.

The screen by Fife artist Sarah Honeyman, was officially unveiled by Andy’s family in the Faculty of Health and Social Care building on Tuesday, December 16.

Andy’s wife Rosie, his children Chris and Claire, and his brother John were there to see the screen on the ‘bridge’ where he would usually enjoy his lunch.

Designs on the colourful window capture many aspects of Andy’s life, including his work and favourite literature, his fondness for swimming and cycling, and his love for St Mirren Football Club.

Alison McLennan, Head of Practice Learning at RGU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, led on the commission of the screen.

She said: “I am very privileged to have been able to call myself one of Andy’s colleagues. He was inspirational to many staff and students and is very sorely missed by us all.

“Having the screen dedicated to Andy in such a prominent position is a very fitting and poignant reminder of him where our staff can sit, relax and reflect.”

Andy’s wife, Rosie, said: “We are immensely grateful and very moved that the university wants to honour Andy’s memory by the installation of this wonderful stained glass screen.

“It will provide a lasting tribute to him, sitting in one of his favourite spots, where he spent many happy coffee breaks with colleagues.

“We are delighted with the finished piece. Sarah Honeyman has managed to capture many aspects of Andy’s life in this beautiful scene.”

Andy’s family has also donated The Dr Andrew McKie Memorial Quaich which will be presented each year to an RGU mental health nursing student who, on completion of their pre-registration nurse education, demonstrates the nursing values he held so dear.

Goodbye Malawi moments

We have returned to Lilongwe from Blantyre for our last night in Malawi. It has been a quick 12 days. Our workshops have been delivered without a hitch and have been well received. Reflecting on our discussions with our Malawian colleagues it is somewhat surprising that despite the health care delivery being very different across here, mainly due to the poverty faced in this country, the issues around the education and training of students are very similar to our own. Lack of resources, particularly in the clinical areas, low staffing levels and attitudes of both students and staff being regularly discussed during the workshops.   While the theory of mentorship is well understood and valued the challenge now is to ensure enough clinical staff are trained to take on board the role and values of mentoring. This will help to enhance the education and training of the new Community Midwifery Assistant students thereby improving the maternity and child care for women at a local level in their villages.

Although this has been a busy 12 days of workshops and travel from the North to the South we have found a little time for some R & R. Our colleague Rose very kindly invited us to her house for dinner during our stay in Blantyre. We enjoyed a lovely Malawian home cooked dinner with Rose, Ellen and Ann. On our journey North today we took the opportunity to visit Mozambique to buy some cabbages and tomatoes.

Dinner at Rose's house with Ellen

Dinner at Rose’s house with Ellen

The border with Mozambique. Malawi on the left, Mozambique on the right. Blantyre straight ahead.

The border with Mozambique. Malawi on the left, Mozambique on the right. Blantyre straight ahead.


Liz standing in Mozambique


Ann didn’t get far from the car for her cabbages and tomatoes


Donald visiting Mozambique

See you all on Monday, put the heating on please!


Malawi moments 4

So we have continued on our journey through Malawi. We left Muzuzu in the northern district and are now in the hilly town of Blantyre in the southern district. We had a long drive south during which we drove along sections of the Malawi/ Mozambique border. The road often forming the border and people moving across the road freely for shopping, socialising and also to access the healthcare there is. With no effective registration of the population it is challenging for Malawi as many come over to access the free healthcare there is.

Today we completed a second 2 day workshop for nursing and midwifery lecturers on mentorship. Again we are struck by the challenges our colleagues here have in delivering education and ensuring students are supervised and mentored in the clinical placements.

Rain is a common topic of conversation here as the rainy season is imminent and the ground is dry. We had a cheer today during one of Donald’s sessions as we heard the pelting of heavy rain on the roof.

Rose a lecturer who completed the mentorship programme previously spoke very movingly to her peers, encouraging them to complete the programme and speaking of how it had given her confidence to be an advocate for student’s learning when she visits the wards and health centres.

Our next entry will be from Lilongwe


Ellen, project supporter finally gets her attendance certificate having attended both workshops!!!!

Ellen, project supporter finally gets her attendance certificate having attended both workshops!!!!


Liz with Susan, Rose and Charity, nurse/ midwife lecturers who visited Aberdeen last year. Lovely to see them in their home country


After the workshop in Blantyre, a brief break between showers


Malawi Moments 3

Our tutor colleagues from the Northern region at the completion of their 2 day workshop

Our tutor colleagues from the Northern region at the completion of their 2 day workshop

Well it is the end of our first week here in Malawi. Our first group of students in Mzuzu have now completed their 2 days on the mentor preparation programme and now heading back to their home areas in the Northern region to complete their portfolios in order to become mentors as well as train future mentors.

It has been a great 2 days working with our tutor colleagues here in Malawi. Many of the discussions taking place during these days were comparable to discussions we have at home -issues with student placements; student challenges; resource challenges. Of course the circumstances behind the issues here are vastly different.

Liz and I have enjoyed our 2 days delivering the workshop. Tomorrow we head back to Lilongwe for one night before we head south to Blantyre to deliver the workshop to tutor colleagues in the south.

We will keep you posted of our progress here in Malawi. I’m sure the next week will pass quickly and we will be back with you all in next to no time.


The group after completing 2 days of workshops

The group after completing 2 days of workshops

Liz leading a session in ST. John of God college, Mzuzu

Liz leading a session in ST. John of God college, Mzuzu

Donald did some work as well

Donald did some work as well

Presentation of attendance certificates

Presentation of attendance certificates

Malawi Moments 2

So after a few days since blogging we have finally managed to find some time to write. After a good 2 days workshop in Lilongwe Donald and Liz left Tracy and headed north with Dr Ann Phoya, Ellen, Rose and Henry our Malawian colleagues for the town of Muzuzu in the Northern District.

We passed through some amasing scenery and visited several health facilities en route. Only 10 minute stop at the beautiful Lake Malawi to feel the heat of the sand and gaze at the view….all while clutching our RGU laptops.

We have an impression of people everywhere, cycling and  walking on the roads. The health facilities we have seen outwith the main towns are busy and look understaffed, stretched for the basic resources. Good as a midwife though, to see how ingrained in practice is skin to skin contact for small and ill newborns with kangaroo care the norm. I have come across some wonderful signs including one yesterday which stated amongst other things  ” anyone found not adhering to the breastfeeding policy will be taken to the district supervisor and disciplined”…..I liked that, and will try to send a Malawi signs entry before we leave.

Arriving late last night in Muzuzu it was up early to finalise our workshop for today. We were a bit later starting than planned but wonderful to be joined by around 25 Malawian education colleagues in a workshop to prepare them to teach the principles of mentorship for nursing and midwifery students.Great too to meet again with some of the midwifery tutors who had been in Aberdeen last year as part of a Commonwealth Fellows scheme. The participation and discussions were lively and it was also fascinating in groups and over lunch to talk about the nurse/ midwife education models and provision here. Many themes and challenges for them rang true with us, only different in degree and setting. Lots of good discussion on how to engage students in learning. Tomorrow will be the second day with this group. So hopefully tomorrow Donald will write and we will have some photos of our colleagues who have completed the workshops.


On the road north

On the road north


District Hospital at Nkhata Bay


Donald and Moustaf on our 10 minute stop off at Lake Malawi ……the sea waves were so near and yet so far

Mother with her small baby in kangaroo care on ward

Mother with her small baby in kangaroo care on ward

Groupwork at today's mentor workshop

Group work at today’s mentor workshop

Group work presentations in Mentorship Workshop, Mzuzu

Group work presentations in Mentorship Workshop, Mzuzu


Malawi moments

This is the first of our blogs from Malawi. Liz Treasure, Donald Todd and Tracy Humphrey arrived in Malawi on Sunday 30th November to continue the development of the Community Midwifery Assistant (CMA) role. We swapped the grey of the Aberdeen skyline to the blue skies of Malawi. Temperatures reaching 29 degrees with no sign of Christmas except for the artificial tree complete with flashing lights and wrapped presents in the hotel lobby.

Here we are at the end of our first day meeting with stakeholders from Government, professional bodies, education and practice. Following a productive day we are ready to discuss and develop plans for Continued Professional Development for the newly created CMA roles tomorrow. We are looking forward to working with our Malawian colleagues in this venture.

Two of the CMAs joined us for the day to give a flavour of what their role looks like. So here is a typical day for Elizabeth working in Malawi in a rural health centre. She is one of only 2 staff there so when she is on duty she generally works alone. She will see perhaps 60 women who turn up for antenatal care each day, In a week see 6-10 women for postnatal care, 20-30 women a month for family planning and in one month deliver around 20-30 babies on her own. I asked her what would happen if on her own there was a medical emergency- such as an eclamptic fit? ….. she told me she would refer to her more senior colleague….this means her leaving the health centre to go physically to her colleague’s home with this message. I am in awe of what this young woman is doing. Helping her and other CMAs to develop their skills and ways to support them will be part of our discussions tomorrow.

At the end of our meeting this afternoon we were shown around the two hospitals in Lilongwe. The Bwaila maternity unit and the maternity unit, paediatric ward and burn unit in the other hospital. This gave us a glimpse of the conditions our Malawian colleagues work in as well as the service provision for the people of Lilongwe. Imagine a ventilated baby with pneumonia being hand ventilated by their mother and father in turns. It brings home how spoiled we are at home with our NHS.

We also bumped in to a camera team on the paediatric ward filming for Comic Relief who sponsor a project here.

Liz having coffee with Elizabeth and Kathy the 2 newly graduated CMAs

Liz having coffee with Elizabeth and Kathy the 2 newly graduated CMAs

Tracy having a chat during our outside morning coffee break

Tracy having a chat during our outside morning coffee break

Donald at the entrance to the burn unit

Donald at the entrance to the burn unit

Stay tuned for more adventures

Liz, Donald and Tracy