Two inspirational students at the University of Chester have received national accolades for their dedication to the health profession.

Student midwife Azija Khanam (Izzy) from Birkenhead, and mental health nursing student Julie Sheen, from Chester, both won their categories in the Student Nursing Times Awards 2014, announced at the London Hilton on Park Lane.

Julie also won the Andrew Parker Student Nurse Award in the Nursing Standard Nurse Awards held at The Savoy hotel, London.

This award is for student nurses whose nursing practice, perceptions or interactions with patients have changed as a result of an incident or experience during training.

Izzy won the category of Most Inspirational Student of the Year for her role as a student quality ambassador.

The role involves championing good practice and encourages students to improve the quality of care within practice.

Izzy is passionate about empowering women and their families during their experiences of maternity care and wants to encourage other students to develop and achieve high standards of care quality.

She feels that being part of the Student Quality Ambassador programme will help improve maternity services and bring about positive developments.

Izzy initiated and facilitates a teenage girls’ project in the community, where she collaborates with a local high school to provide health and social education for ethnic minority girls who are pupils.

There are an increasing number of Bengali and Turkish girls who live in the locality and they do not always integrate with the pupil population and the extra-curricular activities.

The project is called the Cultural Diversity Club, where many pertinent topics are discussed. The team consists of Izzy, teachers, local GPs and peer role models from the young women’s cultural community.

The aim of this project is to increase the young women’s confidence and help them to achieve their potential.

The project will be evaluated and the initiative will be developed further.

Izzy said: “It was unbelievable. I can't describe how I felt when I heard that I had won. I was overwhelmed and overjoyed and it still has not sunk in.

“I hope in the future that I continue to inspire people and carry on working for the community and make a difference to the people I care for.”

Julie won the category of Care Maker of the Year.

She was nominated for her work with senior lecturer Lisa King and Chester Students’ Union to develop a campaign to highlight mental health and wellbeing awareness around the university and encourage students to talk about any issues they may have and access services to help them.

Julie is also a student quality ambassador and worked with Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to embed the 6Cs of nursing (care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment) into policy and practice throughout the Trust. She also promoted these nationally at conferences such as The Florence Nightingale Annual Conference and The Chief Nursing Officer's Summit this year.

Julie said: “It was an honour to win Care Maker of the Year and quite a shock too. It is the first year this award has been given which makes it all the more special to be acknowledged for exemplifying positive nursing practice alongside active promotion of the 6Cs, both on placement and during my work with Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

“I hope this encourages more people to sign up to be care makers and more importantly to continue to deliver quality care, which many healthcare practitioners do and as I will continue to do, into my future as a newly qualified nurse.

“To win The Nursing Standard Andrew Parker Student Nurse of The Year was amazing. To be awarded along with, and share the stage with, top nurses in the country made it a double honour. The icing on the cake was going to The Savoy in London for the awards and meeting Fiona Phillips who hosted them.

“I have just gained my first nursing post - what an exciting way to start my future career .”

Professor Annette McIntosh-Scott, executive dean of the faculty of health and social care, said: “To win through in these categories in these awards against such tough competition is an excellent achievement and Izzy and Julie thoroughly deserve their awards.

“Both have combined their academic studies with being at the forefront of initiatives that can make a real difference to the lives of individuals. Their energy and commitment are truly inspirational and they are fantastic role models for other students. The faculty is extremely proud of Izzy and Julie.”