Career advice

‘More bang for your buck’ at this year’s RCN congress

Four-day event in Belfast will offer a range of learning sessions and CPD opportunities, as well as the chance to influence the college’s work

Four-day event in Belfast will offer a range of learning sessions and CPD opportunities, as well as the chance to influence the college’s work


Debates in the main hall will cover pressing issues including the nurse shortage. ​​​Picture: John Houlihan

There cannot be many events where nurses can hear about managing blocked catheters, learn sign language, discuss how to manage frailty in the community and debate the problems caused by the ongoing shortage of nurses – all under one roof.

These and many other learning opportunities will be open to the 3,000 nurses, nursing students and healthcare assistants preparing to gather in Belfast this month for RCN congress. 

The four-day event includes a packed schedule of debates and votes on issues affecting the profession, including recruitment and retention problems and the barriers to nurses taking breaks and staying hydrated on long shifts.

The busy fringe calendar includes networking events, guidance updates and a wide range of education sessions, covering areas from travel health to tissue viability, dementia, end of life care, mouth care, race equality, and overcoming loneliness and isolation. 

Networking and learning

Chair of congress Stuart McKenzie says the event offers a broad range of learning opportunities, and many nurses can use study leave to attend. 

‘There are high quality debates and many dedicated learning sessions, so it offers more bang for your buck than most events,’ he says. 

‘Specialist nurses, healthcare assistants and students get the chance to hear from experts in their field, and access continuing professional development. 

‘The kind of opportunities that really inspire people are getting together in a room with like-minded nurses and hearing the latest developments. It is a positive experience for nurses and their employers,' he adds.  

‘Going to congress has helped build up my confidence and taught me about speaking out and being a voice for nurses’

Julie Lamberth, theatre staff nurse

As well as being a good opportunity for personal and professional development, the sessions at congress can count towards Nursing and Midwifery Council revalidation requirements. 

Lasting about 45 minutes, they cover a broad range of specialist areas of practice, workplace issues, health and well-being and networking, and give nurses the chance to share knowledge and innovations.

Other events are tailored specifically for healthcare support workers or students.

RCN Northern Ireland representative Colleen White says congress is a fantastic career development opportunity. 

‘It is the best event for giving you fire in your belly,’ she says. ‘You think “I am not going to tolerate x, y or z at work anymore” or you can see changes that you will take back to make care better.’

Julie Lamberth, a theatre staff nurse at University Hospital Crosshouse in Kilmarnock, says she has learned a lot about public speaking through attending congress. This year she is involved with organising and speaking at two fringe events.

‘Going to congress has helped build up my confidence and taught me about speaking out and being a voice for nurses,’ Ms Lamberth says. 

‘I have always been a strong patient advocate and congress highlights how we shouldn’t be afraid to speak out and be that voice, because some patients won’t say anything.’

  • RCN congress 2018 runs from Saturday 12 to Wednesday 16 May. To find out what’s on, or register to attend click here

Erin Dean is a freelance health journalist 
 

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