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UAE nurse in line for top global award says it's 'in my DNA'

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

The world’s best nurse will this week be named at a ceremony in London, with nominees including the Abu Dhabi-based founder of a mentoring programme and a UK diabetes specialist who helps identify and treat rare types of the disease.

Ten finalists have been selected from more than 52,000 entries to compete for the Aster Guardian Global Nursing Award, which offers a $250,000 (Dh981,500) prize.

They include UAE-based Irish nurse Cathy Cribben-Pearse, who founded OakTree Mentoring, a programme for 200 nurses and midwives from around the world.


She said the award underscored how varied the profession is.


Ms Cribben-Pearse, who has lived in the UAE since 2014, left her job as a senior nurse for Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi to set up the company.

She told The National: “I am a nurse, a midwife and I am also an executive coach.

“During the pandemic I offered my services online and in the evenings during lockdown here. So I had a huge response and I was coaching healthcare professionals from all over the world.

“A trend started to emerge, that they didn’t know what coaching was. And they were looking to me for mentorship.


“That’s where the thought of OakTree Mentoring was planted.”

She works with nurses and midwives to match them with others that offer them support in their goal.

“That goal could be a career goal, it could be a personal goal, it could be a lifestyle goal,” she said.

“We help nurses and midwives because it is my bread and butter. Nursing is my DNA. I am a nurse and a midwife. We are a breed all unto ourselves. It’s my language.”


Fellow nominee Margaret Helen Shepherd, lead nurse for research at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, set up a national network of genetic diabetes nurses in the UK in 2002 to raise awareness of the little-known condition, monogenic diabetes.

It occurs due to changes in a single gene.

“Of the different types of diabetes we deal with, there are 33 different genes that can cause a different type of diabetes and need a different type of treatment,” she told The National.

One category is diabetes diagnosed within the first six months of life.

“We call that neonatal diabetes," she said. "A number of those patients ... are better managed without insulin and with a really old-fashioned tablet called Glibenclamide, which can actually improve the blood sugars and enable those people to make their own insulin.”


She said discovering patients' particular type of diabetes can change their lives. One of her patients was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a baby.

She was referred for a genetic test, which revealed that her diabetes resulted from a change in gene, which meant she was able to stop her insulin injections after 43 years.

UAE nurse in line for top global award says it's 'in my DNA'

Ms Cribben-Pearse
Ms Cribben-Pearse

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