Nurse educator - Helen O'Toole 

Helping today’s nursing students to become the best nurses they can be is on Helen O’Toole’s to- do-list every day. 

Educating our nurses for the future

"Supporting our nurses in this vital role is a real privilege and it never ceases to amaze me how much people are dedicated to ensuring that their students can learn to deliver high quality care”.

Her efforts were recently recognised in the UCLH Celebrating Excellence Awards in which she won the ‘Chairman’s Medal for Excellence in Education and Training’ where she was cited as ‘a highly motivated and committed nurse who is passionate about education’. The Chairman’s awards highlight and recognise work that contributes to making our vision, a commitment to ‘delivering top-quality patient care, excellent education and world class research ‘a reality.  

Helen is a nurse educator which involves supporting students in partnership with London South Bank, City University and recently King's College London on a day-to-day basis as well as providing support for the UCLH nurses who act as mentors to nursing students. “At the core of every student’s journey is a mentor who continually assesses students whilst they are learning.  Supporting our nurses in this vital role is a real privilege and it never ceases to amaze me how much dedicate people have to ensuring that their students can learn to deliver high quality care”. 

Helen was delighted to receive the award, “Whilst generally shying away from recognition as I strongly believe that one should always strive to do their best, this award has made me feel extremely proud. It recognises how important student nurses are and how much we need to support nurses in practice who are enabling students to become the best they can be. Being a role model for students, nurse mentors and my daughters is a really privileged position to be in.”

It’s not just about clinical training, as Helen explains, “It is vital that students gain a sense of belonging to UCLH and understanding how important Trust values – safety, kindness, teamwork and improving - are in how we deliver care to our patients”.  Helen’s work is never more important given the recent publication of the Francis report and the subsequent headlines which put care, kindness and compassion at the very heart of patient care.

Practising what she preaches, Helen feels she never stops learning, “I am constantly learning, encountering new situations which enable me to reflect and hopefully support students with their mentors at UCLH in the best possible way. I will probably retire still thinking about the fascinating world of nurse education!”

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