The Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF) today welcomed Community Mental Health Nurse and Developing Educator in Practice Jessica Sainsbury to the team on a one-year secondment. Jessica joins the Foundation as Research and Policy Assistant and will primarily be overseeing the Student Councils Project created to set up shared decision-making councils for students in the South East.

Jessica Sainsbury said: “I can’t quite put into words how delighted I am to have the opportunity to advance the work of student advocacy and empower more of our future healthcare leaders to run with opportunities and disseminate them amongst their peer groups. In addition, I am looking forward to the next stage in my individualistic nursing career and working with the fantastic team at the Florence Nightingale Foundation.”

The Student Councils Project funded by Health Education England aims to ensure healthcare students feel connected to their learning environment and recognised as integral parts of the workforce during their training periods. The project will develop mechanisms and procedures to encourage students to voice their feedback about their experiences in education and training leading to an improvement in student satisfaction. There is currently a national drive to increase recruitment and promote retention for the nursing workforce and by engaging with students during their training periods, the project is hoping to add considerable value to the work happening around these agendas.

Director of the FNF Academy, Professor Gemma Stacey has stated: Students having a positive learning experience is crucial to maintaining the pipeline for the future nursing work force. With the increasing focus on developing students and newly registered nurses as leaders, the importance of ensuring a student voice within the system is more crucial than ever.”

“I am delighted to be welcoming Jessica Sainsbury to lead on this project given her incredible experience working with students proactively via her role as Chair of the Royal College of Nursing Student Committees, and her active leadership role with the RCN Newly Registered Nurses Network. Jessica will excel this project and ensure that the impact of education and training decisions will be recognised and supported.”

Jessica is a newly registered adult and mental health nurse and in her last year of nurse education was Chair of the Royal College of Nursing Students Committee. Jessica had an active role in encouraged collaborative working with her College and key stakeholders such as the Nursing and Midwifery Council, Health Education England, and the Council of Deans – challenging hierarchy and ways of working. In addition to this, alongside her Chief Nurse and Senior Regional Nurse, Jessica established the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Student Nurse Council – ensuring the voice of nursing students was heard at a strategic level within her local system.

She is co-lead of the RCN Newly Registered Nurses Network, and also holds a governance position on the South East Board as Vice Chair. She has recently commenced a MSc in Global Health with Health Professions Education specialist pathway, and continues to support the European Nursing Students Association. Jessica’s first post as a registrant was a split one, enabling her to advance her clinical skills in Older Persons Mental Health as well as her experience as an educator in the Trusts Educators in Practice team.

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