A Senior Lecturer in Nursing at the University of Chester has been given one of the highest possible honours in health care after being accorded the title of Queen’s Nurse.
Irene Cooke, from the Wirral, has been awarded the prestigious accolade after a career spanning more than 30 years in nursing. Now a Senior Lecturer at the University within the Community and Child Health Team, she is helping to develop the next generation of qualified nurses.
Irene received her award from Dr David Colin-Thome OBE, National Clinical Director for Primary Care, during a glittering ceremony in London this week. She said: “It was a great honour for me to receive this award, and it was a special, really well organised event.”
The coveted Queen’s Nurse title is awarded to around 20 nurses each year, making it one of the most prominent and sought-after awards in the nursing profession. To earn the award, nurses have to demonstrate a high level of commitment to patient-centred values and their keenness to improve practice continually, by providing evidence, not least through references from staff, peers and students.
Community nursing students have joined Irene’s peers in celebrating her success. Irene said: “The students have been fantastic. They have been coming to congratulate me and were showing their support beforehand too. It means a lot to me.”
Having originally qualified as a nurse at Birkenhead School of Nursing in 1979 and as a midwife in 1981, Irene has worked in a variety of specialisms within the NHS, including Oncology, Medicine and Coronary Care.
In 1990, Irene qualified as a District Nurse and worked within the NHS on Wirral. Having set up a new community nursing team, the Total Care Team in 1995, Irene worked as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Tissue Viability during the mid-1990s. She started teaching at the University of Liverpool in 2000.
She then moved to the University of Chester in 2002 and graduated with a Master’s in Public Health at the University of Liverpool in 2005.
“I have a wonderful job, and it’s very different now to when I started out,” explained Irene.
“As well as the responsibility of teaching, I still have strong links with community nurses and maintain strong links with patient care, and that’s important to me. I really enjoy what I do.”
Not resting on her laurels with this latest achievement in her career, Irene is still looking forward, and she plans to start a PhD at the University of Chester later this year.