Martina Gomez, a learning disability nursing student from Kingston University, has been shortlisted for the Student Nurse of the Year: Learning Disabilities award.
The award aims to recognise and celebrate the unique nature of learning disabilities nursing, with a focus on promoting and maintaining health and wellbeing, and encouraging people with learning disabilities to participate in society.
Martina, who was inspired by her 18-year-old autistic son to pursue a career in health and social care, was recognised for her passion and drive to address the inequalities that people with learning disabilities face.
She worked on the frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic at Twickenham residential care home and donated more than 200 hand creams to fellow colleagues while she was there, after receiving cash pledges to give the items to key workers so they could give their hands clean and moisturised throughout their shifts.
During her time at university, she formed a group of nursing students and academics from across the nursing fields who could be Learning Disability Champions at the University and in acute general hospitals in the borough.
In her second year, she chaired the Kingston Nursing Society, increasing the amount of members and raising funds to host a number of high-profile public events. She also took up a voluntary role as an academic mentor for first year University students, which entailed offering support and guidance with their studies, administration and work-life balance.
Martina completed a residential home placement in her final year, while also ensuring her son was cared for and supported during the pandemic. Despite these challenges, she still found time to enter Kingston University’s annual Bright Ideas competition, which gives students the opportunity to develop ideas and solutions for everyday problems for the chance to win £1,000. Her reusable learning resource giving information to healthcare professionals was highly commended by judges.
"Learning disability nursing is more than a job, it is every part of who I am"
Martina said she would always be a big advocate for people with learning disabilities and those caring for them. “Learning disability nursing and supporting individuals is more than a job, it is every part of who I am. I’m passionate about education and awareness and hope that, during my studies at Kingston, I was able to make some difference,” she said.
Daniel Marsden, senior lecturer in learning disability nursing at Kingston University, is Martina’s personal tutor and said her passion and leadership was inspirational. “Martina’s values, drive and perseverance to mitigate the inequalities people with learning disabilities face is awe-inspiring. The work she does nurturing and inspiring the next generation of nurses is vital and a testament to the ways she can creatively express herself and ensure her message is heard,” he said.
You can listen to a poem that Martina wrote about life as a student learning disability nurse during the pandemic here.
Other student nurses nominated for the award are:
- Sally-Anne Dicken, Birmingham City University
- Anna Mulvihill, University of the West of England
- Olivia Brewin, University of East Anglia
- Megan Ware, University of South Wales
- Jessica Sinden, North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust
The announcement of this year’s winners will take place on Thursday 4 November at the Grosvenor Hotel in London.