Nurse nominated for prestigious award
PUBLISHED: 17:14 04 March 2009 | UPDATED: 21:43 31 May 2010
A NURSE from Saffron Walden, who found inspiration to take up the profession when she was just eight-years-old, has been recognised for her work. In 1953 Valerie Shephard watched a display put on by the St John Ambulance in what was then Harts Bookshop in
A NURSE from Saffron Walden, who found inspiration to take up the profession when she was just eight-years-old, has been recognised for her work.
In 1953 Valerie Shephard watched a display put on by the St John Ambulance in what was then Harts Bookshop in King Street.
"I knew right away that I wanted to be a nurse," said Dr Shephard. "I was only eight, but to be accepted into the St John Ambulance cadets you had to be 11 - I put up such a fuss until they let me in."
More than 50 years later Dr Shephard, now 65 and a research fellow at the Anglia Ruskin University's Faculty of Health and Social Care, is still passionate about her job.
Her recently completed PhD has been shortlisted for the Akinsanya Award 2009 for Doctoral Scholarship in Nursing.
A former pupil of Saffron Walden County High School - then called the Technical and Secondary School - Dr Shephard has been working on her PhD for the past four years.
Her valuable research provides evidence for the benefits of switching to a new way of measuring a patient's body fat. Many diseases - including cancer, cardiovascular disease and metabolic disease - can be predicted by looking at the level of fat stored in the abdomen.
"The presence of fat in the tummy is what needs to be measured to determine the risk to patients from a number of life threatening diseases," said Dr Shephard.
The new method of checking obesity by measuring the distance from the examination table to the top of the patient's tummy when they are lying down could result in time and cost savings.
Dr Shephard, who has dedicated much of her life to nursing and nurse teaching, now lives in Old Harlow. She still has close ties with Saffron Walden and with Wendens Ambo where her 99-year-old mother lives.
The Royal College of Nursing Research Society's shortlist for the Akinsanya Award 2009 includes four theses that examine issues within healthcare. The award will be granted to the most innovative thesis at the International Nursing Research Conference in Cardiff on March 24.