A student nurse has told how support she received through an innovative leadership programme enabled her to achieve her dream of launching an online information platform for amputees.
Student nurse launches amputee website thanks to leadership scheme
Source: Council of Deans of Health
Raluca Vagner was among those who received an award for the work she carried out as part of the #150Leaders scheme run by the Council of Deans of Health, in partnership with The Burdett Trust for Nursing, over the past two years.
“In all honestly I couldn’t have taken it to the level that it is now if the programme wasn’t here”
The Student Leadership Programme provided 150 trainee nurses, midwives and allied health professionals innovative ways for developing leadership skills across the UK.
At an awards event held at the Royal College of Physicians last Thursday, students told Nursing Times of the opportunities the programme had given them.
Student adult nurse, Ms Vagner, won the award for ‘Best social or digital innovation’ for her website which focuses on improving the care of service users before and after limb amputation.
The third-year student at Oxford Brookes, went into the programme with a “passion” to help those who have amputations as a result of diseases such as diabetes.
Ms Vagner explained how without the programme she wouldn’t have been able to develop her website named ‘Stumped!’ aimed to help amputees.
Under the programme, Ms Vagner was given a mentor who advised and guided her through the process of setting up her website and introduced her to organisations which helped inform her work.
Speaking of her mentor Steve McNeice, Ms Vagner said: “I had an amazing mentor through the Student Leadership Programme. Steve helped me open so many doors.
“He’s coached me to make sure that I stand up for the people I believe in and the values I believe in, and that hierarchy doesn’t really exist,” she added.
The website which she created in collaboration with her fellow student nurse Pedro Simas, offers information on the prevention of amputations from disease as well as about services in the Oxfordshire area.
“I’ve been really impressed with how inspirational the students have been”
Professor Nigel Harrison
Ms Vagner added: “In all honestly I couldn’t have taken it to the level that it is now if the programme wasn’t here. So, it’s meant everything for me from a career point of view.”
The student nurse noted that she now helps to run open days at her universities where she talked to students about how they could be leaders.
She added: “I feel that I owe other people and I need to make sure that they know about this programme and that they know about student leadership.”
Award nominee and one of the Nursing Times student editors, Ian Unitt, also described the positive impact that the programme had on him.
The learning disability nurse at the University of Wolverhampton said: “I didn’t really know what to expect from the programme. I applied because it looked like such a good opportunity and I haven’t looked back since.”
Mr Unitt added: “It’s very difficult to actually put your finger on what the programme brings to you, but it obviously does because we’re all very different now to what we were when we started the course.”
Through the programme Mr Unitt secured himself a one-year internship with WeLDNurses, a Twitter network for learning disability nurses.
He said the leadership programme had “opened his eyes” and made him look at things in many “different ways and different perspectives”.
“The innovations they’ve done within their different locations across the four countries of the UK [is] quite phenomenal”
Professor Brian Webster-Henderson
Mr Unitt added: “For example, before, I’ve been looking at things from very much from a student perspective and how I could get information that I’m going to need to finish my degree, whereas I think after the programme you’re looking at more career wide.”
Award winner for ‘Top #150leaders Midwife’, Mhairi Mclellan, who studies at Robert Gordon University, said it was “inspiring” to be part of the leadership group under the programme.
Speaking of her award Ms Mclellan said: “It’s just the best feeling ever. It was lovely even to be nominated, I wasn’t expecting to be nominated and I definitely didn’t expect to win. But it’s just amazing, everyone has done such amazing things.”
Student editor at Nursing Times, Felicity Allman, also received an award at the event.
The student mental health nurse said that winning the ‘Top #150leaders mentor partnership’ award with Brendan McCormack left her feeling “a little bit overwhelmed”.
She said: “There were some incredible people in my category.
“I was just saying to some of the other winners earlier, that I wasn’t aware of how much other people were doing,” she said.
She added: “I was super nervous but am really glad to have won and really glad to have won in collaboration with Brendan McCormack who was my mentor, who is an incredible nurse and an incredible human being.”
Other categories saw student mental health nurse, Sam Richards, from Swansea University, pick up the ‘Top #150leaders nurse’ award.
In addition, mental health nurse, Pippa Chillman, from the University of Derby, won the ‘Outstanding contribution to shared learning’ award.
Behind the programme, Professor Nigel Harrison, the education impact lead for the Council of Deans of Health, said at the awards: “I think what I’ve been really impressed with today is how inspirational the students have been.
“And what I think has really come through today is the impact and the outcomes of the programme, with all the achievements that the students have made it’s just inspirational.
“It’s quite overwhelming really, it’s quite humbling,” he added.
Compere of the event, Professor Brian Webster-Henderson, chair of the Council of Deans of Health, said the event was “very successful”.
He said: “In any award ceremony there’s always winners but actually when you look at the nominees and the innovations they’ve done within their different locations across the four countries of the UK, it’s quite phenomenal.”
The event was to celebrate some of the innovations that the student leaders, throughout the programme the last two years, had done, he noted.
“We wanted to do an awards ceremony that we could publicly make a recognition of their contribution to healthcare as students and particularly as student leaders,” he said.
Mr Webster-Henderson also said the programme was made to help healthcare students explore a “journey around leadership and the importance of leaders”.
He added: “The starting point is that they’re all leaders from the very beginning, so it really has focused on skills not just knowledge but skills about how to demonstrate and encourage them to push their current leadership beyond where it’s currently at.”