Two Filipinos jointly win International Community Nurse of the Year award

By Michael Duque and Liezel Longboan

The Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) recently conferred its first International Community Nurse of the Year Award to Filipino nurses Dennis Singson and Marc Rodriguera. The newly created award recognises the contribution of internationally educated nurses to community nursing in England.

Both Singson and Rodriguera are advanced nurse practitioners, having completed postgraduate degrees in mental health and cardio-respiratory nursing, respectively. They also both arrived in the UK in 1999.

The QNI is a national charity dedicated to improving nursing care in the UK and holds an annual awards ceremony to honour outstanding nurses. The awards ceremony was held online on 13th December.

Dennis Singson: advancing mental health in the community

Dennis joined his local GP surgery at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 as an Advanced Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. He was nominated for providing easy and quick access to mental health assessment and treatment in primary care and for providing consistent and regular reviews of around 6000 patients with various mental health problems.

The impact of his efforts has been profound. In the midst of the lockdown and Covid restrictions, his work has reduced referrals to urgent & emergency care, and specialist mental health services by 20% as well as antidepressant prescribing by 30%.

The award highlights the equal importance of mental health with physical health and that care providers should treat both disciplines equitably.

– Dennis Singson

Part of his citation reads:  “Always calm and reassuring, he makes thorough assessments of risk and safety and provides patients with dependable safety plans. Leading by example, Dennis is reliable, straightforward and diplomatic.”

Dennis says that the award highlights the equal importance of mental health with physical health and that care providers should treat both disciplines equitably “so that the needs of the community can be catered for in a holistic way.”

He adds that the award also underlines the “massive contribution internationally-educated nurses in the successful provision of health care services not just in mainstream NHS hospitals but also in the community.”

Dennis was a finalist for the 2021 RCN Mental Health Nurse of the Year award and the winner of the 2018 Windrush 70 Award for Clinical Excellence in Nursing. He is also currently the interim vice-chair of the Philippine Nurses Association UK.

Marc Rodriguera: harnessing technology for community care

Marc was recognised for his work as Advanced Telehealth Practitioner at the East London NHS Foundation Trust. According to his nomination, “He was pivotal in mapping the Telehealth service during Covid to accommodate patients needing remote monitoring at home.”

Telehealth is a way of providing health care at a distance using technology. It is an approach to help patients manage their long-term condition, maintain their health and well-being and live independently.

It is fulfilling to see patients in their own homes and to help them with their condition, teach colleagues and other professionals and to be involved in projects in line with my speciality.

– Marc Rodriguera

A respiratory nurse specialist, Marc was cited for being “instrumental in providing clinical expertise to patients discharged from hospital, post-Covid. Marc continuously supports junior colleagues not just within the team but from other teams too. Staff have often described him as someone who listens and handles situations with calmness and is very supportive.”

“I have a passion in cardiology and respiratory nursing even in the Philippines where I worked as a nurse educator at the Philippine General Hospital after finishing my nursing degree from University of the Philippines in 1995,” says Marc. 

“It is fulfilling to see patients in their own homes and to help them with their condition, teach colleagues and other professionals and being involved in projects in line with my speciality,” he ends.

Marc is a Freedom to Speak Up champion in his Trust and currently serves as London Regional Director for Filipino Nurses Association UK.  

Photo caption: Dennis Singson (left) and Marc Rodriguera (right) were jointly recognised for their contribution to community nursing in England. Photo from QNI.

About the author:

Michael Duque is the founder and a trustee of Philippine Nurses Association UK (PNA UK). He currently sits as the only Filipino member of the Fitness to Practice panel of the Nursing and Midwifery Council which regulates nursing practice in the UK.