Students Day Blog Series

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This reflective piece evidences my attendance of the 2022 Florence Nightingale Foundation Conference, followed by the annual commemorative service to celebrate the life and sacrifice of Florence Nightingale, as well as all the nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants who have died in global conflicts, with the new addition of a Roll of Honour for those lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The conference involved an introduction to the Florence Nightingale Foundation, including a discussion about their mission- to empower nurses to follow fitly in the footsteps of Florence Nightingale, shared alongside the inspiring personal history of the Foundations CEO, Professor Greta Westwood. A panel formed of leaders in our field, with a range of diverse backgrounds and interests, then took the time to answer student’s questions in a transparent, informal, conversational manner. The other students in attendance were then offered the chance to engage in more intimate breakout sessions, such as a tour of the Florence Nightingale Museum, or “Master Classes” with members of the panel, however, KCL students were required at Westminster Abbey for rehearsals for the commemorative service later that evening. The fact some of us had to miss the classes would have been my one piece of constructive feedback regarding the conference, however, after raising this concern with Jess Sainsbury, she kindly agreed to facilitate make-up sessions for the KCL students, ensuring we will not miss out on this valuable learning moment.  

Throughout the conference I felt deeply inspired and grateful to have the opportunity to hear from Nursing Leaders who have made significant positive change in our sector. Hearing all the different routes they took to get to where they currently are, made me introspect regarding the path I want to be on in my nursing career; I was reminded of the freedom nursing offers, from being able to work anywhere globally, to getting connected with charitable endeavours, to ground-breaking policy to activism. Having wrestled with personal challenges and doubts, the discourse during this conference was thought-provoking, and provided a safe space to be vulnerable, whilst simultaneously challenging all students present to continue forwards with renewed confidence and belief in themselves. For me, this was an invaluable take-away from the day, as it reminded me of my core values and reasons for choosing this career path, at a time when I needed encouragement, following disheartening experiences on my current placement. The honesty, and willingness to make themselves accessible to us, is something I know many of the students in attendance are thankful to the panel members for.  

In response to the FNF student day, I have introspected regarding what my professional identity is- a topic raised by Major Collins. I now know more clearly what my professional identity is a student nurse, but more importantly, I have begun to consider what I want it to be once I gain my pin. Taking time to think about how I hope to one day truthfully be able to define myself as a Nurse has clarified skills and characteristics I want to begin to develop and nurture now.  

Furthermore, for me, experiences such as the tour of the Florence Nightingale Museum and praying in the Nurses’ Chapel in Westminster Abbey, have tied together the rich history nursing practice has (specifically at GSTT and KCL), with the present and future achievements being accomplished in our sector. By being included in this day I have gained a new sense of connection to the legacy and duty of care Florence Nightingale has bequeathed to us as nurses.

I have already encouraged friends and colleagues to get tickets to attend the conference next year! Thank you for a wonderful event.