In September of last year I was a part of a group of students in Scotland who got together to create a conference that aimed to provide a fun and educational day to improve student nurses’ knowledge of learning disability
On the day we had thought-provoking talks and interactive workshops. One of these talks was from LearningDisabilityNurse.com which touched on the subject of legacy in which the speakers suggested that we all have the power to create our own legacy. I had never really thought about legacy in nursing before or how our actions as student nurses could create a positive legacy, or indeed how that legacy in our student life can continue to follow us into our nursing life.
“I had never really thought about legacy in nursing before or how our actions as student nurses could create a positive legacy”
Could we as student nurses have started a legacy of our own by creating LDAN (Learning Disability Awareness Network)?
We understand that people with learning disabilities need to access services in all fields yet we felt that as student nurses nearing qualification we ultimately lacked the depth of knowledge and understanding on aspects of their care.
With this challenge in mind we managed to create the day with help from service users and NHS Education Scotland to gain valuable insight into what people with a learning disability felt was important for student nurses and nurses to know. The day was organised so that the delegates could gain knowledge about learning disability, experience with communication methods, and perhaps most important of all experience being around people with learning disabilities, their carers and families, hearing their stories.
“We want to see this kind of event running in every university so that all student nurses and midwives have the experience, knowledge and understanding of learning disability when they begin their practice”
The conference was aimed at first-year student nurses and midwives from across Scotland. We would like our legacy to continue with second-year students who volunteered on the day to organise the following year’s event, with some first-years that attended then supported to become volunteers. We want to see this kind of event running in every university so that all student nurses and midwives have the experience, knowledge and understanding of learning disability when they begin their practice.
How can legacy influence our practice or our life as student nurses?
I have been thinking about all of my experiences on my nursing course, how getting involved with different projects at university has given me a sense of belonging. I am fully aware that many students choose not get involved in (or are never aware of the existence of) university projects - I was one of these students 13 years ago when I first started a university course.
“We can make a difference to whatever degree we want. All we need is to engage and have some self-belief”
Then what is it that has changed for me this time around? Is it a more mature attitude or is it that I truly value my place at university after spending years fighting to get it back? Perhaps it has made me more grateful to be here this time. I am certainly far more determined to make my experience count and to be successful.
As student nurses can we really make a difference?
The answer to that question is only answerable by each individual nurse. We can make a difference to whatever degree we want. All we need is to engage and have some self-belief.
Each one of us has the ability to create our own legacy. We first need to believe that we can - and then take action.
Kaye Nicoll is a current student nurse.