A nurse from Devon has fended off competition from more than 50,000 medical colleagues across the world to win a 250,000 dollars (£200,000) cash prize for her work in improving diabetes care.
Margaret Shepherd, from Exeter, said she was left “shaking” after winning the Aster Guardians Global Nursing Award 2023 on International Nurses Day on Friday evening.
The 60-year-old was chosen from over 52,000 applicants across 202 countries, taking the award thanks to her efforts to improve diabetes diagnoses.
Ms Shepherd set up a national network of genetic diabetes nurses in 2002 to raise awareness of the condition and prevent misdiagnosis, which can lead to unnecessary insulin injections, and has become the leading nurse for monogenic diabetes in the UK and a consultant for clinicians across the world.
She was presented with the award in a ceremony at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London.
“I am shaking. I’m truly honoured,” Ms Shepherd said.
“In 1981 I started my nursing career at King’s College London and I was working on a diabetes ward.
“Little did I know that my career would continue in this field… I was the first diabetes specialist nurse looking at rare genetic forms of diabetes to ensure the correct diagnosis.
“As healthcare professionals, we are privileged to be able to make a positive impact on the lives of our patients, and I feel blessed to be part of such a rewarding profession.
“This award not only recognises my personal achievements but also highlights the importance of nursing as a critical component of healthcare.”
Asked how she plans to spend the money, Ms Shepherd said: “I would like to put a donation from my prize to those countries who cannot afford genetic testing for diabetes – so that it is free and they can be diagnosed as necessary with neonatal diabetes.
“This will make a huge and very real difference for those individuals.”
The nine other finalists were also awarded a monetary prize and consisted of Cathy Cribben-Pearse from the UAE, Christine Mawia Sammy from Kenya, Gloria Ceballo from Panama, Jincy Jerry from Ireland, Lilian Yew Siew Mee from Singapore, Michael Joseph Dino from the Philippines, Shanti Teresa Lakra from India, Teresa Fraga from Portugal, and Wilson Fungameza Gwessa from Tanzania.
The award was launched on International Nurses Day in May 2021 by Aster DM Healthcare and aims to recognise the contribution of nurses worldwide.
Dr Azad Moopen, founder chairman and managing director of Aster DM Healthcare, said of Ms Shepherd: “She has exemplified the highest standards of patient care and dedication that is inspirational, and it deserves global recognition.
“Each one of the top 10 finalists have done phenomenal work and the grand jury had a tough time assessing and selecting the final winner.”
Alisha Moopen, deputy managing director of Aster DM Healthcare, added: “Nurses ensure that patients receive high-quality care and often go beyond their call of duty to ensure that the right care is provided.
“We as individuals and organisations must ensure that they receive the recognition they deserve.”