Where would you turn for peer support as a nursing student?
Being part of your university’s nursing society is a chance to learn and support others
Being part of your university’s nursing society is a chance to develop new skills and support your community
Peer support is invaluable while undertaking a nursing degree. An environment in which people feel able to discuss their feelings and experiences can empower nursing students, helping them connect with others with similar values and aspirations.
The nursing society at Bangor University is run entirely by students. When we joined the society in our second year of training, not only did we want to represent nursing students, we wanted to create a robust support system that also provided educational opportunities.
We also wanted to improve the perception of nursing in the local community, showing the values, compassion and professionalism of those providing care to those who need it.
Roles in accounts, events and social media
The society is split over the university’s two campuses at Wrexham and Bangor and has its own constitution, written entirely by students, that revolves around professional practice. Managing the planning and accounts, as well as organising and promoting events and fundraising, requires a large team.
Roles for students include chair, treasurer and secretary, as well as events coordinators, fundraisers, social media officers and, more recently, social enterprise officers. Students are elected into these positions by their peers.
One of the educational activities we helped organise during our time with the nursing society was a mock post-mortem procedure, where students observed an autopsy involving a semi-synthetic human cadaver. Students also took part in the dissection of animal organs, and the anatomy and physiology of each system was explained.
Society members worked hard to organise, plan and promote the event to ensure maximum student engagement, and we were successful in bringing students from all fields of nursing together for a shared learning experience, different to other taught sessions.
Fundraising helps us connect with the community
Extending the work of previous society members, we also organised several fundraising events, including one related to the End PJ Paralysis campaign and others directly linked to improving practice.
As a society, we raised more than £2,000 for various charities during our time in post. Many of the charities were chosen by students because they represented issues close to their hearts, and we even helped fund travel costs so that the child of one of our peers could receive life-changing allergy treatment.
‘Social media has been key to promoting the society and engaging students. It also gives a voice to those who may not normally speak out’
Previous students and society members started an appeal to ensure patients who had to stay in our local hospital over Christmas received a gift and a hand-written card. It was a privilege to carry on this initiative, which we extended to include two wards for older people. We also provided 14 local district nursing teams with a gift hamper.
We hope future members of the nursing society will continue this appeal, making it an annual event that continues to grow and reach more people.
Our events coordinators also organised numerous social events open to all healthcare students, and we helped welcome new cohorts with a conference designed specifically for first-year nursing students. Nurses from all fields and specialties were invited to come and speak about their roles, including what their job entails, why they love it and their career journey.
Funding for events and activities comes in part from our online shop, where we design, promote and market merchandise available to all students, with support from the university’s student union.
Social media creates a level playing field for students
Social media has been key to promoting the society and engaging students. We find it provides students with a platform for information sharing, and also gives a voice to those who may not normally speak out, enabling them to share their opinions.
Some nursing students and registered nurses can see social media as intimidating. But it is a great way of ‘levelling the playing field’ and providing people with support, as well as access to up-to-date, evidence-based information.
A nursing degree will take you on the most incredible journey. It will be tough at times, and no one knows better how challenging it can be than those who have stood before you.
Joining your university’s nursing society will enable you to share your journey with others, engage with your peers, promote the nursing profession and push for positive changes for future students, service users and patients.
Not only are these the aims behind the nursing society, they are the backbone of the Nursing and Midwifery Council code that underpins it.
Kayte Powell (left) and Grace Montgomery are third-year nursing students at Bangor University. Kayte was chair of the nursing society (Wrexham campus) from April 2018 to June 2019 and Grace was an events coordinator from December 2018 to June 2019