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Coventry University PhD student named ‘Royal College of Nursing’s Early Career Researcher of the Year’


Coventry University PhD student named ‘Royal College of Nursing’s Early Career Researcher of the Year’

An accident and emergency nurse has won a prestigious national award for his research into how the NHS can tackle climate change.

Ebenezer Akore Yeboah has been named as the Royal College of Nursing’s Early Career Researcher of the Year for his work to explore the role of nurses in tackling the climate impact of healthcare which has spanned more than 50 countries.

The Coventry University PhD student moved to the UK from Ghana just over two years ago and joined the university’s Research Centre for Healthcare and Communities. As well as working as an accident and emergency nurse at Coventry’s University Hospital and Warwick Hospital, his passion for nursing inspired him to begin researching how he and fellow nurses and NHS workers can reduce their carbon footprint – the NHS accounts for 4% of England’s total carbon footprint and creates as many emissions each year as the whole of Croatia.

It was this ongoing work that Ebenezer submitted to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in his attempt to gain their coveted Early Career Researcher award – and it paid off.

Ebenezer, 27, said: “When I found out I had won, I was like ‘oh my God!’. It’s a beautiful story and I feel privileged as the RCN has a membership of over half a million people. So I was very proud of myself. I can see climate change happening all around us and globally, and when people are displaced by situations created by climate change, health professionals are the ones to look after them and when we are doing that we are adding to the carbon footprint.

“I want this research to help empower nurses to be able to fight climate change and we all need to do our bit. The reactions have been fantastic and people say this is something they haven’t thought about before.”

Ebenezer first came to the UK with the NHS after studying to become a nurse in his homeland of Ghana and soon after arriving saw the PhD post advertised at Coventry University. His recent work with the Research Centre for Healthcare and Communities saw him carry out a global survey of nurses to understand how their work affects climate change, which was completed by 500 people from across 56 countries.

His research highlights the importance of crucial actions, such as reducing excessive use of single use items such as personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves and aprons, proper segregation of hospital waste, turning off electrical equipment when not in use and encouraging green procurement.

His recommendations also include adding sustainability to the nursing and midwifery curriculum and mandatory training within healthcare institutions. Ebenezer says this would mean that “what has been planted in education would be watered in practice”.

Looking back on what he has achieved in the last two years, Ebenezer said: “It’s been a beautiful journey – the UK is a land of opportunity when I look at how much I’ve been able to achieve in just over two years. In Ghana I read about the RCN in textbooks and now I’m part of it and have won a national award.”

Ebenezer is now part of the scientific committee for the RCN international nursing research conference in Newcastle in September.

Rosie Kneafsey, Director of the Research Centre for Healthcare & Communities:

“Ebenezer has worked extremely hard in the last two years to develop his knowledge of research design, methods and scholarship while retaining his strong clinical focus. NHS leadership and practitioner-led quality improvement activity will be crucial to reducing the environmental impact of healthcare. Ebenezer’s research will add to the growing body of evidence and will help shape positive climate action. As Director for the Research Centre for Healthcare and Communities, I am pleased we have created a rich and developmental environment which has enabled Ebenezer to thrive.”

Find out more about the Research Centre for Healthcare & Communities.

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