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Developing students into 'leaders of the future' is critical for nursing, conference told

Developing leadership opportunities for nursing students at the beginning of their journey towards registration is critical in a time of educational turbulence, say nurse leaders.

Developing leadership opportunities for nursing students at the beginning of their journey towards registration is critical in a time of educational turbulence, say nurse leaders.

Speaking at the RCN Education Forum national conference in Newcastle on Tuesday, nurses reflected on current strategic challenges in nursing education.


Council of Deans of Health executive director Katerina Kolyva. Picture: Neil O'Connor

Council of Deans of Health (CoDoH) executive director Katerina Kolyva said: 'We are experiencing unprecedented times of change in education.'

Ms Kolyva cited challenges such as changes in funding such as for tuition fees' reform for healthcare students against a backdrop of new routes into nursing, new regulation, workforce challenges, 'last-minute' policy and decision making from government, as well as Brexit.

Student leadership programme

She said her organisation was working with 150 first year healthcare students as part of a student leadership programme #150Leaders.

The campaign, which is in its second year, aims to develop and encourage healthcare students with leadership potential.

Ms Kolyva said the work was about how to improve programmes and leadership capability and capacity in higher education. It included one-to-one mentorship opportunities, as well as a two-day workshop.

She said some students had become RCN advocates, others joined their university communities to advocate for students, and others were networking and leading debates on social media.

'Everyone is a leader'

‘We are really proud of them – what they have taught us is that everyone is a leader and leadership is not about management or process, it’s about behaviour.’

Open University professor of nursing Jan Draper said building leadership capacity at the start of pre-registration education was important in turbulent times.

Professor Draper said: ‘That will lead to leaders of the future in practice, in education, in policy and in politics. There is a great opportunity to work with students to have an impact on learning and teaching.

‘Leadership is about behaviours – we can all be leaders wherever we are in organisations.

‘Students are at the core of what we do and we mustn’t lose sight of that, and they are where we need to be investing. Our role is to work with everyone to ensure they have quality education provision.'

She added that students were educationalists' key partners and all should engage with them as 'co-cordinators of their own learning.’


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