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King's student wins Shepley Parkin Empathy Award

Stuart Parkin’s parents – Janet Shepley and Derek Parkin – both trained at King’s in the 1950s, going on to become a consultant microbiologist and a nursing officer respectively. Stuart developed the Shepley Parkin Empathy Award to honour Janet and Derek, but also because he believes that empathy plays a key part in establishing the confidence of patients and increases the chances of effective healing.

Shepley Parkin

Empathy is defined as ‘the ability to understand and share feelings of others’. You need to be able to suspend your judgement of the person and engage with them with a completely open mind.

Stuart has spent 25 years working in the media business, where building relationships have been crucial to success, and he has been learning about the power of empathy in practice.

I have established a number of awards in the United States; the idea behind these is to promote the importance of empathy both for individual success and for a more understanding and caring world.– Stuart Parkin
Nikki Kerderagi small

The Shepley Parkin Empathy Award is worth £1,000 and the first winner of this has just been announced – King’s student Nikki Kerdegari, who has just completed her second year of Medicine.

Many congratulations to Nikki, the inaugural recipient of this award. There are many intellectually bright doctors, but the most effective practitioners are not only academic but have the emotional wherewithal to empathise with patients, allowing them to put patients at ease. Nikki epitomises this and I look forward to having my mother present the award to her.– Stuart Parkin

Before starting medical school, Nikki volunteered as a Youth Programme Facilitator for the mental health charity ‘Mind’ for three years. She worked as a Youth Mental Health First Aider and helped to deliver psychoeducation programmes, providing young people with mental health conditions healthy coping strategies and the chance to meet others and build support networks. She also undertook a General Practice placement this year and was able to have open conversations about mental health with the patients here.

She was also the Sponsorship Officer for the Medical Students’ Association (MSA) throughout 2020/21, where she secured over £2000 to support the work here and build new partnerships with local businesses to support the community. Nikki formed collaborations between GKT MSA and medical education organisations to deliver free webinars during the pandemic to support student at King’s and beyond in developing their clinical knowledge.

It is such an honour to have been selected as the first winner of this award. We have all lived through such a challenging period and I think the pandemic has really shown us the importance of supporting each other and the meaningful impact we can all make by being empathetic, not just within medicine, but in every aspect of life.– Nikki Kerdegari

Nikki is now the 2021/22 MSA Vice President for Welfare, and in this role she is committed to making a lasting impact on her community and supporting her team in breaking the stigma around mental health in the medical school. She wants to ensure every student knows thy are supported with welfare initiatives integrated through the academic year.

Nikki added: "Empathy is invaluable in every field of medicine, and I look forward to seeing this develop while also furthering it in myself during future placements and beyond."

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