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.
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?
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.”