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The RCN Northern Ireland Nurse of the Year Awards took place at the Culloden Hotel, Holywood on Thursday 13 June 2024.

The RCN Northern Ireland Nurse of the Year Awards provided an opportunity to highlight excellence within nursing in Northern Ireland and the contribution that nurses make to the health and wellbeing of the people of Northern Ireland.

Florence Sharkey was awarded runner up for the Nursing Research Award. The award is sponsored by Ulster University. Florence was nominated by Professor Vivien Coates. Presented by Professor Neal Cook and Rita Devlin Executive Director of RCN Northern Ireland.

Florence’s research on the co-management of patients with diabetes and dementia has enhanced service understanding of this issue and enhanced standards of patient care. She plans to apply her research findings to professional practice in order to benefit patients and enhance standards of care. As her nominator explains: “This work has the potential to inform future research that will improve the experiences of those with dementia and diabetes, and their informal carers”. The RCN judging panel commented: “Florence is clearly committed and passionate about her work and her plans for the future are ambitious”.

Florence is a Lecturer at the School of Nursing and Paramedic Science at Ulster University. She was originally from County Galway in Ireland and from a nursing family, with her sister and brother also going into nursing. After undertaking her nurse training in England she worked in various roles, later focusing on providing palliative care in both a hospital and then a community setting. She then moved to Northern Ireland working first in palliative care and later as a Practice Education Facilitator and as an Associate Lecturer with Open University and Lead Nurse for Research and Development, Western Health & Social Care Trust.

Florence will be presenting an oral presentation on her research at the upcoming RCN International Nursing Research Conference 2024 in September, Northumbria University, Newcastle.