A nurse improving care for women with gynaecological cancers and and midwife helping pregnant Indigenous women in Kalgoorlie have been hailed for their work improving health outcomes for Australians.
Sydney's Chris O'Brien Lifehouse nurse practitioner Shannon Philp and Kalgoorlie's Garnirringu Health Service's Janelle Dillon both took out the top awards at the 2021 Hesta Australian Nursing and Midwifery Awards on Thursday.
The annual awards celebrate the critical contributions of the country's nurses and midwives.
Ms Philp said she was "speechless and honoured" to be named 2021 Nurse of the Year.
"These awards highlight the complexity of nursing, the professionalism and specialised care that nurses provide and also, the highly educated nursing workforce we have in our country," she said.
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As the first nurse practitioner in gynae-oncology in Australia, Ms Philp has developed new models of patient-centred care that have increased access to support and improved the care of women with gynaecological cancers. One of these programs aims to ensure women recover quickly after surgery with minimal complications.
Ms Philp said she would use the prize money for research to help improve women's experience of colposcopy (a method of examining the cervix, vagina, and vulva) as changes to the cervical screening guidelines have seen a dramatic increase in the number of women referred for this procedure.
"It's an invasive thing for women to come in to have treatment and not knowing what's going to happen. It's an anxiety provoking experience."
WA woman Janelle Dillon was named Midwife of the Year for her tireless work to create a safe space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to receive pregnancy care in Kalgoorlie, reducing pregnancy risk and potentially saving lives.
Ms Dillon said it was amazing to hear she had won. "I really feel for the wonderful women of Kalgoorlie. This is for them. This is me helping them."
Ms Dillon, who has more than 60 women in her care, said working as an endorsed midwife, a diabetes educator and nurse immuniser has meant she has experienced many rewarding moments throughout her career.
"I am so blessed that the Wongatha women of Kalgoorlie have allowed me into their lives. On a day-to-day basis they accept me into their community, and they let me walk side-by-side with them," she said.
Ms Dillon's work has reduced pregnancy risk and potentially saved lives. Ms Dillon plans to use the prize money to improve her skills and knowledge, including around managing family violence issues, to provide a holistic healthcare experience for the women who visit Bega Garnbirringu Health Service.
Ramsay Health Care Australia took out the gong for Outstanding Organisation for their work to improve environmental sustainability across its private hospital facilities, including through cutting down greenhouse gas emissions and single-use plastics.
HESTA chief executive Debby Blakey congratulated the three winners, acknowledging the incredible impact they have had in delivering improved health outcomes and care for Australians.
"This year's winners prove our nurses and midwives are the backbone of our healthcare system," Ms Blakey said.
The three winners each received $10,000 for professional development or to improve services or processes in the workplace.