Nurse recovers from car crash to be named best in Wales
December 3 2013
A Glyndŵr University student achieved national nursing success while recovering from a horrific car accident and helping her father battle Leukaemia.
Caitlin Griffiths was named Nursing Student of the Year for 2013 by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in Wales.
The 22-year-old, from Hanmer, near Whitchurch, attended the glittering awards ceremony in Cardiff with her dad Nigel, who underwent a bone marrow transplant for Leukaemia just months ago.
Caitlin also suffered a horrific back injury following a car accident which left her in a brace and unable to attend university, but says she was “determined” not to let anything get in the way of her studies.
She went on to obtain a first class honours degree, won the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) Student Nurse of the Year prize for 2012 and received the Sylvia Crowe Memorial Prize, presented annually to Pre-Registration Adult Nursing student students who make an outstanding effort in overcoming personal difficulties to achieve their qualification.
She is now working in the intensive care unit at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.
“When I collected this prestigious award I felt incredibly proud and encouraged,” said Caitlin.
“Being recognised has inspired me to always continue to work hard to not only improve the health of my patients when in my care, but to improve nursing and healthcare as a whole.”
She added: “Despite having to take some time off due to injury following the car accident, I still graduated with a first class honours degree.
“My back injury meant I had to wear a brace and take three months off university, but I was determined to re-join my cohort and went back, caught up on the work I had missed whilst continuing with the class and the current workload – nothing was going to stop me.”
Caitlin was nominated for the RCN award by her personal tutor and senior lecturer Angela Williams before being invited to attend an interview panel consisting of six RCN board members from around the UK.
“I presented my undergraduate achievements to them and answered a host of questions,” said Caitlin.
“I was then contacted to inform me that I had been selected as a finalist and attended the award ceremony with my father, who received a bone marrow transplant earlier this year for Leukaemia – I was delighted to share the event with him.”
She added: “I think that I won because of my passion for improving healthcare and encouraging others to do so.
“Nursing is a career of endless possibilities, it opens you up to a world of birth and death and everything in between. Every day I meet somebody who needs my help as a nurse and I enjoy making a positive difference to somebody, no matter how small that is.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Glyndŵr University. The lecturers were all so encouraging and inspirational and the facilities were excellent, as well as the links to practice.
“I am sure that I would not have achieved half of what I have without them.”
Angela paid tribute to Caitlin’s dedication during her three years at Glyndwr University.
She said: “Caitlin has been an excellent student nurse and was an asset to the nursing department at Glyndŵr.
“She is a caring and compassionate nurse who made a difference. I am so proud of her; she is a worthy winner.”
Angela Hopkins, BCUHB’s Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Patient Services, added: “It is with great pride that we welcomed Caitlin at the completion of her nurse training onto the nursing team at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.
“As a nurse graduate, Caitlin is commencing her career in the emergency department and intensive care unit at Wrexham Maelor Hospital. Our congratulations go to Caitlin and we wish her every success as she embarks on her nursing career.”
BCUHB enjoyed further success on the night as Wendy Pugh, a Specialist Screening Practitioner for Bowel Screening Wales, won the RCN Nurse Education Award.