Alisha, a third year student, sharing her experince of attending RCN congress as a voting member
This experience helped me to re-ignite my passion for nursing. Before it I was tired, stressed and on the verge of burning out. I felt, considering the political situation that we are currently in, that I was defeated before I had even qualified. I very much still held a fierce love for the nursing profession however, in a climate where nurses are undervalued and overworked, it is difficult to see that love reflected in others. My placements so far have been fantastic experiences; however, it has been hard for me not to notice the downtrodden demeanour of the nursing staff, the lack of fight they have when they are told they must take on extra patients despite being short staffed. All of this added to my feelings of apprehension about qualifying.
The first day of congress was overwhelming, we had an introductory speech from the president of the RCN and it was absolutely inspiring. I was filled with an unfamiliar feeling. Was this passion? It was emanating from everyone in the room. It was such an amazing feeling!
The debates were outstanding, I was unaware that there were others that thought the same way as me, that felt the same way as me and that they were willing to speak out! The feeling of safety and the confidence that my comments would be well received are what pushed me to face my fear of public speaking and approach the lectern. I had sat in my seat listening to a debate about parity of esteem, and I felt that I should give a student’s perspective. So, I wrote a few words down on my phone and I got up into the queue. It was the most terrifying thing I have ever done but I would definitely do it again. I felt ever so proud of myself when I voiced my opinion. I feel much more confident about the modules where I have to do a presentation now.
By the end of the week I had made new friends that I look forward to seeing again next year, I had learned a lot of new information and I had also changed my opinion on some things thanks to the debates. I have been inspired by the key note speakers and I have become interested in new topics. I know what kind of nurse I want to be when I qualify, what kind of mentor, what kind of role model. I plan to take these new feelings and passion and focus them on my final year, help to lift up my peers when we are having a hard time. I am also going to use the new knowledge I have to educate others if they are unsure of something. I am going to spread the passion for nursing and help our healthcare staff to fall in love with their job again.
I have walked away from congress a different person to who I was previously. I feel stronger, I feel calmer, I feel ready to fight and stand up for the profession I love. I feel ready to be a nurse.
Alisha Poole is third year student adult nurse