Minister for Health, David Anderson MHK, presented many of the awards and was very pleased to give thanks and recognition of the achievements to all concerned, including the Department’s Learning Team in providing an exceptional education service to the Departments of Health and Social Care, and the private and voluntary sectors.
The Minister said:
'I was delighted to attend the ceremony which is a real highlight of the year and is so important in recognising the learning achievement of those involved in health and social care. We are indeed fortunate in the Department of Health to have an able, enthusiastic and knowledgeable Learning Team who teach, train and support students on programmes of study.
'I offer my sincere congratulations to everyone who received an award. It takes determination and effort to undertake the training programmes and qualifications on offer, juggling work, home commitments, and study. But education and continuous development are vital and certainly not optional extras. The world of health and social care doesn’t stand still. There are always new medicines, developments in care, and changes to best practice – so training ensures that we can stay at the top of our game to deliver the highest standards of care. Our philosophy in the Department is to support everyone in their learning and to be inclusive and multi-professional. Through these means, the number of students studying on our programmes increases yearly and the impact on service standards is clear to see.'
The ceremonies began with stirring renditions of pipe music from Nursing and Higher Education Manager, John Struthers. In the morning, the success of students completing their National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs), Institute of Leadership and Management programmes, Association of Anatomical Pathology Technologists, Institute of Biomedical Science, National Examining Board for Dental Nurses, and BTEC programmes in Moving and Handling were recognised.
It was also a significant moment for nursing in the Isle of Man with the presentation of Queen’s Nurse awards to three Community Nurses.
Introducing the Queen’s Nurse awards, Voirrey Kewley, QCF (Quality and Credit Framework) Co-ordinator said:
'Achieving the Queen’s Nurse title enables you to join a network of like-minded nurses across the UK and gives access to a free learning and development programme. It is a prestigious award with involvement at national level in the UK, influencing policy and practice throughout the whole of primary care services. Thirty nurses per year across the British Isles achieve this award so we are very delighted that three community nurses working in the Isle of Man have been awarded this coveted title.'
In the afternoon, awards were presented for courses ranging from the Diploma in Nursing to an MSc in Infection Control. Thirteen students achieved BSc (Hons) Nursing, of which six were the first in the Isle of Man to achieve the BSc (Hons) Nursing, Mental Health Branch. Sixteen students were awarded the BSc (Hons) Health Studies. The standards of achievement were very high with nearly half gaining First Class (Hons) awards compared with a national average of only 14%. A range of Higher Education programmes for nurses in the community were also awarded along with nurse prescribing qualifications.
David Killip, Department of Health Chief Executive, said:
'It is always a great pleasure to attend this ceremony and join with our staff, their family members, and their friends to recognise the very significant achievements of all our students. We gather in this beautiful and dignified setting to demonstrate how much we value the effort, commitment and dedication shown by our students.
'To complete studies on a part-time basis whilst holding down a challenging job and trying to maintain some semblance of family and social life is not easy. To do so and achieve at the very high standards which these students have demonstrated is particularly challenging and deserves the highest commendation.
'I am very proud, not only of the students but of their tutors and mentors together with the administrative staff who support their programmes. Without them, these programmes of study would not be possible. In these straightened times I am very pleased that we can maintain this very cost-effective approach to learning.'
In a very special moment of respect, Ben Mellon, a nursing student who sadly died during his course, was awarded a posthumous Certificate in Higher Education, which was presented to his mother, Jane and his wife, Sam. Their baby, Phoebe, slept peacefully throughout.
Owen Atkinson, a Year 11 pupil from St Ninian’s High School, winner of the Public Speaking Class at the 2012 Manx Music Festival gave an address on the subject of ’The Joys and Challenges of Learning’. He noted:
'Albert Einstein once said ‘intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only in death’, or in other words, every experience should be considered part of a learning curve… Sidney J Harris, an American journalist and author said, ‘The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.’ This, for me, is the personal joy of learning. You see, despite all the challenges, there is an outright and indefinable joy to the process of learning that makes all the challenges worthwhile.'
Everyone enjoyed a splendid day in which diligence, teamwork, and achievement were celebrated with due appreciation and dignity.