It is really inspiring to be in a setting where student nurses and NQN’s are given a platform to use their strong, collective voice to engage with the key topics of the day. The Pan London Student Nurse Congress was just such a platform.
The day began with an introduction to the fantastic Nikki Yun – a nurse who has been qualified for 2 years and put the whole event together. We were then shown a packed and exciting programme which included workshops, debates, discussions and interactive stalls with the RCN, Capital Nurses and the #PackofNurses campaign. (This campaign was all about finding the right collective noun for nurses… more about this later).
From the very beginning, we were reminded of how the role of nurses has developed and grown. We were encouraged and inspired to use our voices to shape the future of the NHS. In light of the NHS’ 70th anniversary – as people look back on its incredible achievements – we must think about what we want to achieve in the next 70 and how nurses can be a significant part of that.
I attended a workshop on the process of transitioning from a Student Nurse to a Qualified Nurse, chaired by our own Ewout van Sabben. It was so encouraging to see how confident these nurses were, only 7 or 8 months after qualifying. They talked about applications, interviews, supernumerary work and career progression. The fact they were all from different universities and went into different areas of nursing gave a broad and comprehensive picture of the transition experience. As a final year student, this really helped to put my mind at ease.
Four other students and I then spoke at a workshop about our elective experiences, chaired by the brilliant Emily Davies. It was great to hear about Louise, Ije, Claire and Nicole’s very different experiences. An international elective is a privilege in its uniqueness. No matter where you go – whether international or not – it will be a special and individualised experience for you. It challenges your perspective of healthcare and pushes you out of the comfort zone of your own trust or typical healthcare setting. We answered lots of questions – from deciding where to go to specific logistics – and hopefully inspired others to find this unique experience for themselves!
The afternoon held debates about nursing education, Brexit and job applications. The calibre of the speakers and hosts – from Professor Jane Cummings to Avey Bhatia to Robert Bleasdale – was both impressive and awe inspiring. It was a poignant reminder that the talent and ambition of nurses does lead to tangible positive change in the NHS.
Ewout finished the day by announcing the result of the #PackofNurses vote. Out of the top 15 options for the collective noun the winner was…. A PRIDE of nurses! I was thrilled with the result. We do have every right to be proud as nurses. We are proud of everything we have achieved, the hard work we are doing now and our ambitious goals for improving care in the future. Events like this congress not only raise morale among student nurses but are also an important reminder of the influence of our community. We can identify the important
issues and be a significant part of the solution.
(Lily Parham – student nurse)