Development & Alumni Relations Office 



QUEEN’S NURSE AWARDED HIGHEST HONOUR FROM ROYAL COLLEGE OF NURSINGNurse by bedside with mother and baby

21 August 2020

Dr Sonya Clarke, Senior Lecturer of Education within Children’s Nursing from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s has been awarded the prestigious Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Award of Merit for 2020.

Announced last month, Dr Clarke is one of four RCN members from across the UK to receive the award which is the highest honour the Royal College can bestow for voluntary service to those who have gone above and beyond to support fellow members.

Involved with the RCN back as far as 1988 when she was a student nurse, more recently Dr Clarke’s connections are within her roles in the professional forum, the Society of Orthopaedic and Trauma Nursing (SOTN) and children’s nursing. She was Chair of the SOTN from 2015 to 2019, having served the previous four years on the steering committee.

Surprised and delighted to receive the award Dr Clarke commented:

“I am extremely honoured to have been chosen by the Royal College of Nursing for this prestigious award.

“My aim as a nurse is to make a difference to people’s lives and educate, support and help my fellow nurses.”

As part of her role Sonya endeavoured to maintain strong communication networks between the SOTN and its 4,000 members, encouraging the use of social media to achieve this, and ensuring that the committee delivered at least one workshop or conference per year.

Dr Mary Drozd, Course Leader MSc Advanced Clinical Practice at the University of Wolverhampton and one of Dr Clarke’s nominators, said:

“The work Sonya has done for the RCN and the greater nursing voice, has been exceptional – showing real leadership and commitment. Sonya exhibits a true passion for children’s nursing.

“She deserves this recognition for her transformational leadership skills, unfailing commitment and inspirational work at a national level, which aimed to benefit patients with musculoskeletal conditions and injuries through the education and upskilling of practitioners in this specialist field.”

Originally from Ballymena in County Antrim, Sonya was an orthopaedic nurse at Musgrave Park Hospital (1991– 99) and then a Marie Curie Nurse (1991-2010), before moving to Queen's in 2003. She holds a BSc Hons (Specialist Practice in Orthopaedic Nursing) (2001), an MSc (Nursing) (2006), and an EdD Doctorate in Education (2019) from Queen’s.

At present, Dr Clarke has been selected to lead an innovative pre-registration graduate entry Master’s (GEMS) programme at Queen’s for children and young people’s nursing, which will commence in September 2020.

Dr Clarke added: “I am very excited to lead this new MSc – which will equip high calibre students with the knowledge and skills to play a key role in the future of children and young people’s nursing.

“Entering the workforce with an MSc adds value to our profession and will enable these registrants to make a positive difference to our society.”

Media enquiries should be addressed to the Communications Officer at Queen’s University Belfast.

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