From volunteering stints in third world countries, to the juggles of employment and postgraduate study, the Lakes DHB's Nursing and Midwifery Awards have once again highlighted the feats of medical staff in Rotorua and Taupo.

This was the ninth year the awards had been held to celebrate excellence, innovation and achievements to improve patient outcomes.

The 2018 Lakes DHB Registered Nurse of the Year was public health nurse, Karen Tonge, and the 2018 Midwife of the Year was Vicky Ambrosino from the Rotorua maternity unit.

According to the judges, Tonge was an expert practitioner and a natural leader, leading by example and used her initiative to identify solutions to service gaps.

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They said she was dedicated to providing the best care possible to patients and their families and provided support and knowledge to colleagues.

Midwife of the Year, Vicky Ambrosino, embodied the organisational values in the treatment of all her patients by showing compassion and building a rapport with mothers and their whanau, said the judges.

Ambrosino was a role model to junior doctors and midwives, the judges said, using her ability to teach and share her knowledge to help new graduate midwives develop into midwifery practitioners.

Clinical Nurse Manager of Outpatients, Kelly Beckett, won the Cathy Cooney Nursing / Midwifery Leadership Award for 2018.

This award was for the individual who the judges said had made a significant contribution to the leadership of nursing or midwifery, through changes to systems and processes within the organisation or through hands-on team leadership.

Beckett's colleagues described her as an outstanding nurse manager who constantly put the needs or her department, staff and patients above her own.

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She displayed a great passion for improving services for patients – especially children _ and had developed into a much-valued leader.

Kimberley Chapman was named the New Graduate Nurse of the Year (2017). This award recognised an outstanding participant in the Lakes DHB Nursing Entry to Practice programme (NETP programme).

The philosophy of new graduate programmes was to provide a supportive space to transition from student to registered nurse using peer support, preceptor and mentorship and additional studies.

The judges said Chapman was a good communicator and had a calming manner supporting the patient to feel at ease.

HCA Rachel Byrne from the Mental Health Unit was named the Health Care Assistant of the Year.

The judges said Byrne had a unique ability to relate to patients in a time of fear and crisis, building rapport with all those in her care in order to achieve more positive outcomes on the ward.

Barbara Mace, Taupo District Nursing, won the Best Nursing / Midwifery Innovation Award.

Mace had done great work in improving the care of people with leg ulcers, which were a significant problem for patients in the community.

She used her expertise to improve assessment skills and best practice management of leg ulcers and acts as a champion for the learning and implementation of these improvements.

Registered Nurse, Day Stay Unit, Tessa Johnson received the inaugural Outstanding Contribution to Nursing / Midwifery Professional Development Award.

Over her 28 years nursing at Lakes DHB, many colleagues had benefited from Johnson's time, willingness to share, and expertise, the judges said.

Johnson was an expert nurse, who was well known for her caring, positive and generous personality.

She had volunteered in nursing care in Cambodia and Thailand and has worked in orphanages in Uganda.

She was the first person to put her hand in her pocket for those less advantaged or for those in need.