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'Is networking a good idea or a waste of time?'

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I am in the camp that swears by it. My first ever networking event was the Positive Choices Conference - an annual, free two-day event for all learning disabilities (LD) nursing students. Since that one event my student nursing opportunities have exploded.

While at the conference I met a group of students who, the previous year, had won The Fiona Law Practice Innovation Award, the annual award related to this conference. They also presented an amazing poster aimed at attracting more people into the field of LD nursing; further, they had set up and are now running a dedicated LD nursing website.

I have been in contact with them ever since and am now an LD nurse awareness champion on their behalf, giving presentations to local colleges and schools, explaining the role of LD nursing.

I also entered The Fiona Law Award and, lo and behold, became one of the lucky winners with a lovely shiny award and a project to present with the other four winners at next year’s conference. This brought media attention from my own university where I was invited to meet the vice chancellor and tell him all about it.

Attending that one conference was definitely a positive choice and pretty conclusive that networking works for me

This gave me the confidence to apply for the role of student editor role for Student Nursing Times, where - since being given the role - I have met three RNLDs virtually, through Twitter, and we are now running fortnightly LD-specific chats with nurses.

And to top it all off, while networking, I found out about a place on the steering group for ‘strengthening the commitment’ that is to be set up to ensure that the points raised in the newly published Modernising Learning Disability Nursing Report are taken forward. I applied and last week was invited to be the student representative on the England Implementation Group for this commitment.

Attending that one conference was definitely a positive choice and pretty conclusive that networking works for me.

  • Details about positive choices can be found here.
  • Check out the new LD nurse website here.
  • Follow the Twitter chats: @LDNursechats

And find out more about the project I have to present and my role in helping shape the future of LD nursing by checking back to read my future blogs.

Michelle Parker, Learning Disabilities student nurse editor.

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