Winning submission focuses on compassionate care and building mental health patients' self-worth

Date posted

28 October 2021


A student nurse has been honoured for her outstanding caring skills on the day she graduated from university with distinction.

Charlotte Milliken was presented with her Bachelor of Nursing (Mental Health) degree at the Usher Hall and was also named the winner of Edinburgh Napier University’s Simon Pullin Award for 2021.

The award was established to recognise the human side of nursing and midwifery, and the judging panel agreed Charlotte was a worthy winner after reading her insightful account of her experiences on placement with community mental health teams at different stages of her degree.

Mother-of-one Charlotte, 31, of Uphall, West Lothian, underlined the importance of compassionate care and wrote of techniques she had learned to empower patients and build their independence and self-worth.Charlotte Milliken with child outside Usher Hall

She told how an experienced nurse showed her mental health improvement is always possible by introducing her to a patient who had turned his life around, established a supportive network of family and friends, and was maintaining a home.

Charlotte, who as a first year won a Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland prize for her work on a placement, also wrote of another patient who used new skills they had worked on together to defuse an anxiety attack.

Her submission for the award was reinforced by glowing tributes from a less experienced placement student she had supported and a community psychiatric nurse who had mentored her.

Charlotte, who is married to Tom, a staff nurse in oncology who supported her through her degree, and has a three-year-old daughter named Niamh, said: “It has been a challenging but enjoyable five years, including maternity leave. I am thrilled to be graduating with distinction but to also be named as the winner of the Simon Pullin Award, having read about the achievements of some of the University’s previous winners, is just the icing on the cake.”

The new graduate, who currently works at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, added: “I am proud of the skills I have learned over my years as a student. I have worked hard to develop my practice to be person centred and holistic, practicing the techniques I have been taught by my mentors and colleagues, and I hope to continue to learn more as I progress through my career as a mental health nurse.”

Edinburgh Napier’s Simon Pullin Award was created in memory of Senior Nurse Simon Pullin, who played a key role in the university’s Compassionate Care Programme up until his death from cancer in July 2011.

Dr Stephen Smith, from Edinburgh Napier’s School of Health & Social Care, who led the awarding panel, said: “Charlotte’s ability to intrinsically value each person in her care and adopt a consistently positive approach to individual recovery was a key factor in her winning the award this year.”

Pam Logan, Charlotte’s Personal Development Tutor at the University, said: “Charlotte has been well respected by practice colleagues due to her commitment to delivering compassionate, person-centred care and her ability to establish and maintain therapeutic relationships that are based on shared understanding and respect. Practice feedback has commended Charlotte on consistently working in a non-judgmental manner, approaching ethical challenges appropriately and for her support of junior students.”