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A group of Nursing students from the University of Chester has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award for its work in representing the student voice.

The Student Empowerment Group has been named as a finalist in this year’s RCNi Nurse Awards in the category of Nursing Student of the Year.

The purpose of the Group was to ensure that the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (2018) theme of student empowerment in nurse education was integrated into the new curriculum.

The University performed particularly strongly in listening to its student body in this year’s National Student Survey (NSS).

The Group was set up in August 2018 by students Daniel Branch, Rose James, Hannah Dixon, Thomas Slater and Charina Guanzon with Senior Lecturer Peg Murphy. They meet monthly and attend programme planning meetings with lecturers and staff in the University’s Faculty of Health and Social Care with the aim of giving students a real voice in developing their programmes of study.

As the workload increased, the Group worked with Peg to develop a business plan to create Student Empowerment Consultants who would be paid for their work. Daniel and Rose are now the co-chairs of the Group and with new members in place they have worked on a new curriculum; given presentations about their work; developed guidance for students going on their placements and are working on compiling a collection of reflections on student experiences on placement to help others feel more comfortable and share learning.

Daniel chairs the meetings and up to 30 staff and students attend. He has also co-designed and delivered a poster about the Group’s work and presented it at the HEE (Higher Education England) Learner Wellbeing Conference 2020: Championing Mental Wellbeing in the NHS. Rose was part of the programme planning team panel and has represented the student voice at all of the meetings and discussed these opinions with staff and students at all levels. She has been recognised for her work going above and beyond within the University and was awarded the Tom Mason prize for outstanding additional work both in academia and in practice at the University’s annual valedictory and prize giving service.

Thomas and Hannah are now newly qualified nurses. From being part of the group Hannah has co-written a chapter of a book with Peg advising practice supervisors entitled ‘Providing honest feedback and feed forward in order to facilitate learning. Both Tom and Hannah have presented the work of the Group at the international RAISE (Researching, Advancing and Inspiring Student Engagement) Conference 2019 and a RAISE Partnership Special Interest Group of the same year. Thomas has co-presented the Student Empowerment Group work at both local and national conferences.

Peg said: “This Group has helped to develop a curriculum that is accessible and understandable from a student perspective while setting the highest possible standards for excellence in nursing practice. Its work will ensure that the University of Chester continues to produce nurses fit for 21st-century nursing, who can deliver highly skilled person-centred care and lead others to be empowered and compassionate professionals. I am proud to be part of this Group.”

Daniel said: "We are very proud that being part of the Student Empowerment Group has enabled us to help our fellow students to become the best nurses they can be, both now and in the future, and are pleased to have been able to improve our personal skills particularly in relation to communication and advocacy. We feel that the more empowered nurses feel the better the care they are able to provide and have been able to see the personal benefits of this during our practice placements." 

Professor Angela Simpson, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Care, said: “I am immensely proud of the hard work and dedication of the Student Empowerment Group. To be shortlisted for such an award is testament to their commitment to giving students at the University a real voice.”

The awards celebrate innovation, skill and dedication in nursing and showcase excellence in the profession. The winners will be announced in a virtual ceremony later this year.



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