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'The RCN Congress really makes you feel part of something big'

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Kate McCandlish visits RCN Congress 2013 for the first time …

As an experienced community nurse it could be argued that I’ve seen a lot. But nothing like this.

Hundreds of nurses herded into a massive arena, a bit like a rock concert waiting for their favourite act.

It’s the RCN Congress and its my first time. Ever.

I remember when I wanted to be a nurse (I was the cleaner in a nursing home) I heard about the RCN and watched the nurses and wanted to be one of “them”.

This gathering of like-minded colleagues makes you really feel part of something big.

There’s been a warm welcome from Liverpool, the hotel, the cabbie, even the bus driver went out of his way to drop me near the hotel in the rain.

Sunday night included awards and a settling introduction to the aims of the week.

Andrea S delivered a call to arms with a  distinctively personal focus. We were reminded about our values and culture and asked to think about this in light if Francis.

This was revisited during the first full day, today. Congress is reliant on procedure and process, but retains a friendly and openness which mean speakers share very private experiences to this roomful of strangers. It feels like a safe place to share. I suspect Francis will be a running theme.

Rock music is quoted - public enemy, and pop is matched to debate topic! It’s a relaxed atmosphere. Nurses are proudly representing their areas ( people’s republic of Yorkshire) and their specialism. From older people to mental health to CAMHS to infection control, it’s all covered here. I joined Dr Peter Carter wander round an exhibition stand, with his PA, and he stops to shake hands and have his photo taken with his fans, quite the rock star.

Monday has ended with quotes from the Secretary of State being relayed as points of order and bounced up and down the country via twitter.

To the music of ” the revolution will not be televised” RCN members voted to keep the two arms together. The professional body and trade union functions are, Like flour and eggs as separate ingredients, they are better together (Dave Dawes)

Follow all the debate on twitter via #RCNCongress or via the Nursing Times LIVE news feed.

Kate McCandlish is a district nurse and attended the RCN Congress this year for the first time.

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