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I had the privilege of attending the Florence Nightingale Foundation Students day this year, which was an extremely enjoyable experience. It was a great opportunity to meet fellow passionate and enthusiastic students and to discuss some of the issues that our facing our profession currently and in the future.
The day commenced with a panel discussion with four inspirational nurse leaders within their own individual fields. There were a number of great discussions had around nurse education, leadership and research. The panel provided some interesting insight into all of these areas. I found that the members of the panel were encouraging and inspirational speakers, in particular the areas of leadership and management, encouraging all of the students to be the nurse leaders of the future.
There was some interesting discussion regarding nurse education with a particular focus on generic training of nurses and the proposed cuts to the student nurse bursary. I feel though however that some of the comments where misunderstood by the panel in these areas. For the generic teaching aspect the questions were answered and reflected on about a generic course for all nurses however the question was framed at not reducing specialised nurse courses but including more content from all fields within each student’s specialised field of nursing.
In regards to the bursary I feel that the panel where generally supportive however when I asked about the concerns I had for the students nurses of the future wellbeing, particularly in relation to workload, that this question was not addressed. I feel that this was an opportunity for an organisation as respected as the Florence Nightingale Foundation to take a stand with Student Nurses and help stop a series of cuts that will have a serious effect on future nurse numbers and the wellbeing of student nurses. The panel where very knowledgeable and extremely encouraging however and reignited my passion after a long three years of training.
The only addition that could have been made was more input from the devolved nations on the panel. Each member was based within England and I think a broader discussion with all parts of the health services in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Island being represented within the panel could have given more in depth discussion around national issues.
The next part of the day included a tour of the older part of Guy’s Hospital and Florence Nightingale Museum. It was fascinating to see and hear the changes in nurse education, practice and hear stories of nursing from the Second World War within the hospital. The museum itself was fascinating to me as I did not know a lot about Florence Nightingale and I discovered why she is such an inspiration to many nurses around the world. I particularly enjoyed seeing her famous lamp which was not how I expected it to look and to see her stuffed owl that she had as a pet during her time nursing in the Crimean War.
The final organised activity was a commemoration service for Florence Nightingale at Westminster Abbey. It was a beautiful service in the most beautiful of settings and the sound of the choir singing was utterly memorising. At the service we had the chance to meet various influential people within nursing, be that NHS, government or unions. One of the most interesting parts was watching Jeremy Hunt leave the service quickly and I am sure that many of the Student Nurses would have loved to have had a conversation with him!
One of the best experiences of the whole day was having the chance to meet such fantastic student nurses from all over the UK. It was great to see such enthusiasm, commitment and passion from the future of the nursing profession.
During my time training to be a Mental Health Nurse, I have taken every opportunity given to me and I have tried my best through many roles to make the experience of Student Nurses within my University a pleasurable and empowering one. Admittedly as I approach the end of my studies my passion has waned slightly, probably due to tiredness and the continual work of a nursing student.
The chance to meet similar minded students who were continually striving for the best results for their patients, colleagues and fellow students filled me with inspiration again and has helped me build networks that hopefully in future can help improve the services we deliver throughout the UK.
Robert Murray, Student Nurse, University of Stirling
16 May 2016
I was very proud to recently being given the opportunity to represent the University of Stirling at The Florence Nightingale Foundation Students Day, which was held in London at St Thomas’s Hospital on 6th May 2015.
Different universities throughout the UK were given the opportunity to nominate nursing and midwifery students to this annual event, which is held to commemorate the life and work of Florence Nightingale. There were approximately 80 students who were invited and we all gathered in the Governor’s Hall within St Thomas’s Hospital.
There we met with the founders of The Florence Nightingale Foundation and leading healthcare professionals where we were asked to submit questions to the panel. We all gathered in small groups and were given different topics to consider. Some of the questions we raised were:
- Should skills be required be standardised through all universities and trusts?
- Do we give enough consideration to mental health in adult environments?
- Should students have more involvement in research?
- Leadership, is it just for management?
being just a few asked. The panel answered all the questions with enthusiasm, wisdom and experience valuing all questions asked.
Throughout the question and answer session we were all encouraged and supported to raise additional questions, which was a part that ended up getting very lively and gathering great enthusiasm, with great feedback received from the panel members. The panel ensured that all questions were answered, also giving us great advice for future placements and careers, as well as advice on difficult situations like escalating concerns and getting the right support and opportunities out of our placements.
The response from the panel left us all feeling very inspired as well as feeling very proud to become nurses and midwives of the future. A final note given was for us to believe in ourselves, it is always better to aim high, it is never too early to make a difference and to believe in ourselves. The panel members and founders of the Foundation made us all feel very welcome and ensured that we all felt relaxed, included and our opinions to be important.
Following on from the panel discussion we had the opportunity to watch a film about the life and legacy of Florence Nightingale before visiting the Chapel in St Thomas’s Hospital. After that we went on a tour of the Florence Nightingale Museum where we learnt more about the foundation of her nursing school and how it all began. This gave us all a good insight into Florence Nightingale’s background and the incredible research and work she achieved and the many lives she saved, as well as the impact and influence that her work still has on nursing practice today.
At the end of the day we all attended the 50th commemoration service at Westminster Abbey, with an attendance of over 2,000 people. We had the opportunity to look around the Abbey before the service began as well as being given the opportunity to visit the Florence Nightingale Chapel. Westminster Abbey was a truly magnificent building and was breathtaking to see.
The Florence Nightingale commemorative service began with a choir and the atmosphere was amazing which continued with a procession being led by a Florence Nightingale scholar carrying the lamp, which was lit and escorted by student nurses and midwifes. Upon their arrival before the altar, the lamp was then passed between Florence Nightingale scholars, which is a tradition that represents the passing on of knowledge. This service was a memorable end to a truly inspiring day.
Throughout the day I had the opportunity to meet with students studying adult nursing, mental health nursing and midwifery making many new friends along the way and learning about different students’ experiences, advice and goals.
I truly found the day to be very inspiring, educational and thought provoking. Certainly a day I will never forget and I would certainly recommend other students, if given the opportunity in the future, to attend as it is certainly an experience that will leave you feeling extremely proud to be called a nurse.
Julie Furzer, 2nd year mental health nursing student