Academic conferences: the nursing student perspective

Attending an academic conference is probably not on  the undergrad student nurse ” to do” list, but it should be. I recall attending the brilliant RCN congress in the UK in the late 90’s in Bournemouth and Harrogate as an undergraduate. The passion and excitement to care amongst a student population so evident. I recall hearing the term Nurse Politics and found new inspiration for this unique profession.  Every student nurse should share such an experience in their educational development.

This year we all witnessed what nursing means to students with the brilliant Molly Case oration. It sent a message to the nursing community and we  at #NPD100 were the lucky ones to feel inspired “Down Under”.

Power to Social Media, who knew?

This blog entry comes from two of a number of future leaders in our profession from the University of Notre Dame Australia.

Emily Mignacca and Danielle Blackwell write about their experience at a recent conference. Take note and register for one that interests you. Apply for scholarship, if you’re not in, you can’t win ! – PJC

conference

Between the 23rd-25th October, we attended the 39th International Mental Health Nursing Conference through the Janseen Cilag Student Scholarship Program. It was through our ongoing engagement with the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN) via Twitter that we became aware of this opportunity and were lucky enough to receive fully funded Conference registrations.

This conference was centred on the key theme of “Collaborations and Partnerships in Mental Health Nursing” and explored the importance of effective partnerships within the profession, and how the ever-changing practice domain of mental health nursing fits into this collaboration.  Throughout the three days, this theme was addressed extensively through inspiring keynote speakers, engaging research and truly meaningful discussions, debates and conversations between all delegates.

The word “conference” tends to conjure up images of stuffy old men in business suits as another stuffy old man drones on at a microphone. However, after attending this, our first ever conference, we have a very different story to tell. This is not purely due to the delegates and presentations at the Conference itself, but largely thanks to the conversation that was occurring concurrently in the online world. Throughout the entire three days, the #ACMHN2013 hashtag was in full force on Twitter, with a total of 1,007 tweets from 138 participants. This strong social media presence allowed for engagement and connection with colleagues both nationally and internationally, allowing content to be shared far beyond the four walls of the hotel. As contributors to #ACMHN2013 on Twitter, we were able to extend conversations beyond the 40 minute presentations, share supporting research and information with colleagues and hugely enrich our own experience at the Conference.

We were also introduced to some of the key nursing leaders in the field and given advice, motivation and buckets full of ideas for our own career pathways. It was incredibly humbling to discuss our passion for mental health with colleagues who had a wealth of experience, knowledge and understanding, and we were further grateful for their willingness to teach and share their wisdom.

The core purpose of a conference in nursing is universal regardless of age, title or career status. It was clear that regardless of these factors, all delegates were united by the central desire to improve the care they are able to provide to some of our society’s most vulnerable individuals and families.

Attending a conference in the field we are both so passionate about was a truly humbling, eye-opening and inspiring experience that we will both carry with us as we begin our nursing careers. We could not recommend this experience highly enough for all undergraduate nursing students as we all strive to propel nursing into a profession that is united, evidence-based and passionate.

–Emily Mignacca & Danielle Blackwell

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