Nursing student Simon wins prize after prison placement

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A hospital placement may not sound unusual to somebody studying a degree in nursing, but how many students expect to win an award for their compassionate care while working in prison?

That’s the honour Simon Hunter received when he graduated with a BN in Nursing after placements at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and HMP Edinburgh.
 Simon Hunter at graduation
He won the University’s Simon Pullin Award for his outstanding caring skills while working with prisoners and drug addicts, inspired by a mentor who struck up a positive rapport with a long-term drug user on a respiratory ward.

Simon was genuinely moved by the sincerity with which the nurse approached his task and his efforts to ease the patient’s concerns, and by the patient’s candid response to the nurse’s sympathetic manner.

He said: “It was this experience that led me to question my own judgements and values, and inspired me to explore the kind of nursing that would challenge me to show compassion to those patients who have perhaps historically felt none.”

He built on this experience during a challenging four-week placement with the prison service, concluding: “I learned more about compassion from the patients unused to it.

“Just as the lifelong smoker with terminal lung cancer or the obese patient with diabetes do not need their choices condemned at the bedside, neither does the drug addict or convicted sex offender need their history overshadowing their care requirements or clouding the practice of those charged with delivering them.

“They are suffering. They need help. It is our skills, our experience and, of course, our compassion that are needed.”

“They are suffering. They need help. It is our skills, our experience and, of course, our compassion that are needed.”

Simon Hunter

Nursing graduate

Simon, who went on to take up a post in the Acute Medical Unit at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, understands how demanding the job is but believes there are real rewards for students who put the effort in.

He said: “Nursing care means more than salves and stitches. It requires commitment, graft and skill but if you can bring these things to the table along with your compassion and empathy, you could have an extremely satisfying career ahead of you.”

The Simon Pullin Award, which comes with £250 in prize money, was established by Edinburgh Napier to recognise the human side of nursing and midwifery. 

The honour 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.

Celebrating success at Edinburgh Napier