Top award leaves nurse nearly speechless

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Nurse of the Year Shannon Philp was so shocked at her win, she almost had nothing to say.

Taking home the title at the 2021 HESTA Australian Nursing and Midwifery Awards, Shannon said she went to the winner’s podium without a speech prepared.

“I was absolutely shocked, I really had to think on the spot when they called my name – whatever I said was just totally off the cuff,” she laughed.

Shannon was nominated for her work with comprehensive cancer care provider Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and the Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Sydney.

“Everyone at Lifehouse and the nursing school has been really excited for me, and so supportive,” she said.

“I’ve had lots of messages and calls, and lots of support, which has been lovely.”

Shannon has been a nurse for 25 years and was the first nurse practitioner in gynaecological oncology in Australia. 

She has developed new and innovative models of patient-centred care that have increased access to support and improved the care of women with gynaecological cancers.

“Just to have made a difference to people is really great,” Shannon said.

“What’s amazing to me are the changes that I have seen over the years, the improvement for patients and their outcomes.

“I love the interaction with the patients and their families and to really feel I’m making a difference, that’s why I do it.”

Shannon also lectures to post-graduate nurses and said she enjoyed the teaching aspect of her career.

“I have had some messages from students after the awards, so if I can hopefully inspire them to see what you can do when you have a great team around you, and when you take opportunities to expand your practice, you can do good things,” she said.

Shannon said she particularly wanted to encourage nurses to continue their education and training.

“I’m doing things in my work that most nurses might think they can’t do, or won’t do,” she said.

“And I’d like to say to them that they can, just believe that you can go out and increase the scope of your practice. If you’re confident and capable, you can do it.”

Taking home a trophy, a winner’s plate and some prize money, Shannon added she would be celebrating her award “for a little while yet”.

“I would definitely encourage people to nominate someone that they think is doing a great job,” Shannon said.

“I was initially very hesitant when I found out I had been nominated and I didn’t expect to get very far at all, so to be a finalist and then to win, was amazing. 

“I think people are surprised when they look at what you’ve done in your career, and I think I surprised myself a bit too. 

“It’s nice to have that recognition, although of course that’s not why we do it.”

Shannon said working in oncology could be challenging at times, but was ultimately rewarding.

“I’ve been able to reflect on the things I’ve done, and the patients and their families I’ve been able to help and that’s great,” she said.

“And to also reflect on the changes I’ve seen over that time for patient outcomes.

“The HESTA awards were a great event to attend and I’ll certainly continue to celebrate for the next little while! Just overall, it’s been a great experience.”

Read more: Private hospitals win prestigious HESTA awards

Read more: Inspiring the next generation - HESTA nurse of the year finalist

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