CRITICAL care nurse Shashana Lawrence was in disbelief on being declared the 2014/2015 LASCO/NAJ Nurse of the Year.
As the youngest nominee, the 30-year-old said, although she scored high marks in the final round of the judging, she thought a more experienced and mature nurse would have received the award.
"I really did not expect it given that I was the youngest nominee this year. I am very elated though. I am lost for words. I really did not expect it," Lawrence told the Jamaica Observer shortly after winning the title at the 15th annual LASCO/Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ) Awards Ceremony held at the Pegasus hotel in Kingston on Saturday.
Lawrence said although she never imagined herself as LASCO Nurse of the Year, she always knew she wanted to be a nurse.
"I knew I was destined to become a nurse since I was a child. It was further reinforced when I was a student at Manning's School and a nurse encouraged me there to become a nurse," Lawrence told the Observer.
"What made me want to become a nurse more was the fact that, through a scholarship from the Savanna-la-Mar nursing group associated with the NAJ, some of my Caribbean Examination Council exams were paid for," said Lawrence.
After completing her Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination subjects, Lawrence immediately enrolled at the Cornwall School of Nursing, where she pursued a certificate in nursing and launched her career as a nurse at Savanna-la-Mar Hospital in 2006.
With a strong desire to relocate to urban Jamaica, she got a job at the Kingston Public Hospital and has, for the last five years been serving patients there.
Lawrence admitted that the job of a nurse is not an easy one as it is amongst one of the most challenging and demanding of careers.
She recalled the occasions she felt like switching careers but expressed delight that she never did as it led to her becoming not only an ambassador for LASCO or the NAJ, but an ambassador for her country.
The other finalists in the competition this year were Marcia Henry from the Ministry of Health South East Regional Health Authority, who is assigned to the Olympic Gardens Health Centre, Sherry-Ann Shaw from Mandeville Regional Hospital; Sadrieka Williams from National Chest Hospital; Fione Collins from Percy Junior Hospital; and Sharon Golding from Port Antonio Hospital.
Before giving Lawrence her cash award of $200,000 and a trophy chairman and chief executive officer of LASCO Group of Companies Lascelles Chin saluted all six finalists who were shortlisted this year.
"The LASCO family is grateful for the hard work and perseverance of our nurses. We deeply appreciate your contributions and selfless service to the nation. I encourage you to keep up the good work and continue the long tradition of outstanding awardees," Chin said in his address.