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Northumbria student’s essay is given Royal seal of approval

9th August 2016

A prestigious prize for health and social care students in the UK has been awarded to a Northumbria University student by HRH the Prince of Wales.

Sean Harrison accepted this year’s Michael Pittilo Essay Prize at a conference, held at the Royal Society of Medicine in London. The prize, named after the late Professor Michael Pittilo, Vice Chancellor of Robert Gordon University, is run by the College of Medicine and is usually won by a medical student.

However, the £500 prize has this year been awarded to Northumbria Integrated Masters in Nursing student Sean for his essay “Food the forgotten medicine; how can clinicians and patients maximise its potential benefits?” which will be published in the International Therapist Journal.

After receiving his award from HRH the Prince of Wales, Sean said: “The highlight of the day was having my award presented by Prince Charles. I was slightly nervous, but he was very nice, congratulated me and asked if he was interrupting my exams.

“I am particularly proud to receive this award, not only as a Northumbria University student but for the nursing profession. Dr Michael Dixon, chair of the College of Medicine, said I was up against some stiff competition.

“The conference on food and medicine was really interesting and inspiring. It was chaired by broadcaster and GP Dr Phil Hammond and I learned a lot about evidence-based nutrition from prominent experts in the field. I also heard Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England speak.”

At the conference, speakers said that more evidence-based nutrition training is required to give healthcare professionals the skills and expertise to help patients.

The College of Medicine is currently drafting a group statement for the role of healthcare professionals in nutrition. The statement will acknowledge that healthcare professionals do not know enough about nutrition and that encouraging healthy eating will enable patients to continue managing their care outside of the clinical setting.

Sean added: I’m proud to be at the forefront of this challenge and to be in a position to share the knowledge I’ve gained with other nursing students at Northumbria. I’ve also given nutrition advice to patients in practice, which is particularly important given that the North East has one of the highest obesity rates in the UK. I’m really excited that my essay is being published and that my work is reaching a wider audience. This recognition has given me a huge sense of achievement as well as the confidence and motivation to write more articles in the future.”

Professor Amanda Clarke, Head of Department Healthcare at Northumbria University, said: “We are proud of Sean’s significant achievement and it highlights the crucial role that healthcare professionals, including nurses, play in promoting evidence-based nutrition.”

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