FEEL GOOD | UFS lecturer becomes third African to win international nursing award

Dr Champion N Nyoni
Dr Champion N Nyoni
PHOTO: Supplied by UFS
  • A UFS lecturer has become the third African to win a prestigious international nursing award.
  • The purpose of the award is to recognise nurses whose research and scholarship have impacted on the profession and the people it serves.
  • The award was presented online at the International Nursing Research Congress.


As yet another testament to the great work being done – as well as the dedication, passion, and hard work of staff members in the School of Nursing at the University of the Free State (UFS) – a senior lecturer has become the first UFS staff member to win the prestigious Sigma Emerging Nurse Researcher/Scholar award, making him the third African to achieve this.

"I was overwhelmed to be honoured with this award as the third African to have won it in the history of the awards. To me, this is an indication that the quality of our work in the School of Nursing is top-notch and meets international standards, and that our contribution to nursing science and nursing education is outstanding," says a proud Dr Champion N Nyoni on his latest achievement.

Sigma Theta Tau International (Sigma) is a global honour society for nurses that recognises and advances nursing through research and scholarship. Membership for this society includes a minimum of a master's qualification and nomination from current members based on your contribution and the potential thereof for nursing at a national and global scale.

The Emerging Nurse Researcher/Scholar Award, with the purpose of recognising nurses whose research and scholarship have impacted the profession and the people it serves, was introduced in 2015.

No easy process

It is quite a rigorous process to become eligible for the award, explains Nyoni. "One is nominated by peers who are also part of Sigma; these peers must motivate their nomination by providing evidence related to the research and scholarship of the nominee.

"In addition to the numerous reference reports from colleagues in the discipline of nursing, additional referrals are sought from colleagues in other professions in the health sciences who have worked and engaged with the research of the nominee. This application process is then evaluated for consideration, among others, by a global panel."

Nyoni says: 

I never thought that I would win this award, given the nature of the nomination process, and the heavy funding that other nurse researchers globally receive in comparison to Africa.

According to a passionate Nyoni, the award will also give him the energy to continue an academic track, especially in nursing and nursing education, with a focus on improving the quality of nursing education, the quality of nursing graduates, impacting the nursing workforce and thereby influencing the quality of health indicators, especially in Africa, where health systems are nurse-driven.

Nyoni is appreciative of the nurturing environment and brilliant colleagues in the School of Nursing, who are supporting his research career.

Quality nursing education

Nyoni says:

We need quality nurses for quality nursing care, and this should be done through quality nursing education. I hope to use this award as part of a motivation strategy for young nurses to be engaged in scholarship and in academia, as there is a great need, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

When he was nominated, Nyoni had close to 15 publications in nursing education and close to 40 presentations at local and international conferences. He also had several awards for his research work, including the Best Education Paper: Senior Category at the Faculty of Health Science's Research Forum in 2019.

Nyoni is currently a postdoctoral fellow – the first – in the UFS School of Nursing and serves as chairperson on several boards of directors relating to health professions education in the African region, namely AfrIPEN and SAFRI. He is also supervising several master's and PhD students.

This award was presented online on Thursday, at the International Nursing Research Congress, owing to Covid-19.


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