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UCLan senior lecturer wins Educator of the Year Award

02 April 2014

Jessica Pratt

Community nursing professional body recognises Dr Karen Whittaker

A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) senior lecturer has been named Educator of the Year by the leading professional body for community nurses and health visitors.

Dr Karen Whittaker beat off stiff competition from two other nominees to win the prestigious award at the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association (CPHVA) annual award ceremony.

Karen was delighted to hear that she had won Educator of the Year, a prize that aims to reward someone who ‘stands head and shoulders above their peers in the importance of educating both their colleagues and the wider community’.

She said of her award: “I was thrilled just to be shortlisted and I feel incredibly honoured to have now won it. I am excited that the value of health visiting education is being recognised.”

Practicing in UCLan’s School of Health as a senior lecturer for the past 15 years, Karen has enjoyed working with student health visitors, other community nurses and NHS practice teaching colleagues. A keen researcher, she has also examined and published on topics such as home visiting services for children and families, health visitor workforce retention and parenting support in the early years.

The latter topic formed part of Karen’s doctoral study that she completed at King’s College in London, where she now acts as a research fellow with the National Nursing Research Unit team.

“I was thrilled just to be shortlisted and I feel incredibly honoured to have now won it. I am excited that the value of health visiting education is being recognised.”

The annual CPHVA event aims to give recognition to community practitioners and health visitors that demonstrate ‘professionalism, passion and creativity… often with little or no recognition or appreciation’. The awards were launched in 2011 to counter this lack of appreciation for the professional achievements of members and instead acknowledge the ‘extraordinary work that members carry out every day with huge dedication and enthusiasm.’

The ceremony took place at the stunning OXO tower in London last Friday. Karen was unfortunately unable to attend personally and sent Jean Taylor, the Associate Head of the School of Health, to represent UCLan on her behalf.

This has been a particularly exciting month for Karen who, in addition, has been shortlisted by UCLan Students' Union for a Golden Rose award for Postgraduate Support. Karen said: “This nomination is much appreciated since it comes from the students, I'm delighted that they think so well of my work with them.”

Alongside these accolades, Karen has recently taken over as Chair of a UK-wide group representing Health Visitor Educators - the UK Standing Conference for Specialist Community Public Health Nursing (SCPHN) education. She secured this post due to her enthusiastic approach when teaching on the SCPHN education programme at UCLan.