Being recognized with the Nurse of the Year award is one remarkable thing. However, having a tram named after you is on a whole other level. For one Filipina nurse, this was truly a once in a lifetime achievement.

After working for 16 years in Nottingham as a nurse, Luisa Marie Avanzado never expected that she would win such as a prestigious award.

A Davaoeña journey to the UK

A Filipina nurse who found her way to the United Kingdom in the early 2000s, Luisa Avanzado hailed from Davao, a flourishing city in the Philippines.

Avanzado first migrated to the United Kingdom back in 2001. That was the year when there had been a rapid increase in the inflow of nurses to the UK from the Philippines and other countries. She said that it had been a daunting moment for her to work abroad especially since I was going to be away from family and friends. Nonetheless, she persevered.

Luisa with husband Oscar

“Since the Philippines had more skilled workers than jobs,” she started. “I took the chance to broaden my professional and personal horizons.”

She also added that she wanted to be challenged and to also work to her full potential as a qualified nurse, the reason why she was interested in relocating to the UK.

True enough, she admitted that it was difficult at the start. She had to start from scratch, from furnishing an empty room to building a new circle of friends. Fortunately, she felt at home in the UK.  She said that her colleagues at work were well-prepared when the Filipino nurses arrived in England. They established contact with the Filipino community and that really helped her with her homesickness.

Years later, Avanzado seems to have settled in quite nicely. Her husband followed her to the UK and now also works for the NHS.

“We are not in a rush to head back too soon,” she said. She also adds that their longing to see far-away places is greater than their homesickness and that there is still a lot to see and discover in England.

Named after a tram

Being someone who’s passionate about her profession, it’s no surprise that nursing also runs in the family as she has four aunts who worked as a nurse in the USA. Avanzado says that they were the ones who encouraged her and her brother (who also works as a nurse in Southmead Hospital in Bristol, England) to pursue a career in nursing.

City Tram No. 220 named in Luisa’s honour

Answering this calling to help people surely gave Avanzado an unexpected surprise when she was named as was named Nurse of the Year and International Nurse of the Year at the annual Nurse and Midwife of the Year Awards that took place last May 2018.

She works as a staff nurse at the Berman 2 Ward at City Hospital. When thousands of members of the public cast their votes in an online poll to determine who will win this prestigious award, she garnered the most votes. This is a testament to Avanzado’s dedication to her work, being in the mind of the people who she helped and served.

However, this isn’t where Avanzado’s story ends as one tram now carries the name of a Filipino. As it turns out, along with getting this award, Luisa Avanzado’s name was also placed on the side of tram 220.

Recognized at the NET’s Wilkinson Street depot on Wednesday, June 27, Avanzado witnessed at the unveiling of her name on the tram.

“I was really overwhelmed, honoured and humbled as to be named as the nurse of the year,” she said when asked what it felt like to win this award. “It’s been a great privilege to have my name on the tram. It’s a once in a lifetime achievement.”

She also adds that her family was as overwhelmed as much as her and that loved ones, friends, and colleagues were happy and supportive as well.

Luisa Marie with her award as Nottingham’s Nurse & Midwife of the Year 2018

When asked about her qualities that’s she thinks led to her winning this award, she says that she’s hard and dedicated to her work. Her passion for her work shows as she loves being a nurse. Colleagues also say that she’s a super nurse and that they felt safe when she works with them.

She also plays various roles in the hospital. Other than providing quality and holistic care for her patients, she also communicates with the patients’ family and the other multi-disciplinary teams.

She notes that she feels happy when patients and their relatives give her positive comments and appreciate what she has done for them.

“I’m so happy to hear from my patients and their families who said that they were so proud of me when they read the article in the Nottingham post and voted for me as the nurse of the year,” she said.

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