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Maggie Shepherd, Honorary Clinical Professor

Outstanding Exeter diabetes nurse wins prestigious leadership scholarship

An internationally renowned diabetes research nurse has been awarded a prestigious Florence Nightingale Foundation Leadership Scholarship.

Maggie Shepherd, Honorary Clinical Professor at the University of Exeter and Lead Nurse for Research at the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, will now embark on a bespoke leadership programme. The scholarships are designed to build confidence, authority and influence in the scholars, enabling them to contribute to policy and practice at a local and national level to improve patient care and health outcomes.

Maggie has been instrumental in developing Exeter’s globally-renowned work in monogenic diabetes, which is caused by a change in a single gene. She has been recognised for her role in research and training, through her national Genetic Diabetes Nurse initiative, which has led to a step change in how monogenic diabetes is recognised and treated. As part of her role, Maggie is now working with NHS E&I and the Genomic Medicine Service Alliances to train diabetes teams in every Trust in monogenic diabetes to increase awareness, recognition and ensure appropriate treatment. She was one of the first cohort of NIHR 70@70 Senior Nurse Research Leaders and through this role developed initiatives within the RDE to integrate research in clinical care, providing new opportunities for clinical staff to become engaged in research.

Maggie said; ‘I’m absolutely delighted to be awarded one of the 2022 prestigious Florence Nightingale Foundation Leadership Scholarships. This provides a fantastic opportunity for me to further develop my leadership skills, network with other senior nurses/midwives and undertake an improvement project within the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust. For my project I will focus on evaluating our innovative nurse-led Embedding Research In Care (ERIC) unit,which aims to increase awareness and engagement in clinical research amongst all staff and identify clinical problems which can be developed into research projects.

Helen Quinn, Research and Development Director at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, said: We’re delighted that Maggie Shepherd has been awarded this prestigious scholarship, she has shown extraordinary tenacity, leadership and expertise to improve the clinical care of patients with monogenic diabetes playing a pivotal role in improving training and education and providing mentorship and support to nurse specialists across the country. As an NIHR 70@70 nurse leader, Maggie has developed and implemented exciting initiatives to support nurses and midwives to embed research in care to ensure patients benefit from research participation and for these professions to realise their potential. We know Maggie will use this opportunity to continue to drive improvements for patients and opportunities for the profession and we look forward to supporting her and working with her.”

Carolyn Mills, Chief Nursing Officer at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and the Northern Devon Healthcare Trust, said: "Congratulations to Maggie on being awarded a Florence Nightingale Scholarship. I have no doubt that she will, through the opportunities that this scholarship provides and through her proven leadership  skills she will continue to develop improvements in patient care and health research."

Date: 23 March 2022