TRU nursing delegation heads to Halifax

Kassandra Mitchell, Contributor Ω

With bags packed and boarding passes printed, seven TRU nursing students flew to Halifax, N.S. Jan. 21 for the Canadian Nursing Students Association’s (CNSA) annual national conference. The convention will provide an opportunity for approximately 500 nursing students across Canada to network with their peers and participate in professional development seminars.

The five-day conference, which features a variety of keynote speakers including Dalhousie University’s assistant professor of nursing Dr. Sherri Price, has nursing students like Amanda Shibley excited.

“Last year I took a cultural awareness workshop on Aboriginal health, as well as one on leadership from the vice president of the CNSA,” Shibley said. “It’s a really good networking opportunity…after you have friends all over Canada in the same field as you.”

Five of the seven TRU students in attendance are being fully funded, with one student receiving funding from the B.C. Nursing Union (BCNU) and another student (originally from the East Coast) paying out of pocket. $4,600 was provided by the Comprehensive University Endowment Fund (CUEF) and $3,000 was given by the dean of nursing’s Dr. Barbara Patterson. As well, TRUSU announced last Monday they will be contributing an additional $1,000. The Nursing Undergraduate Society (NUS) also contributed financial assistance for the students.

Funding is absolutely critical, according to Steven Ross, faculty liaison and lecturer with TRU’s school of nursing. He estimates the cost sits at around $2,500 per student for the entire week.

“We’ve had conferences closer in the past, like Vancouver and Edmonton…but it’s quite a distance to go this time, so funding is essential.”

The TRU students in attendance this year were selected internally, based on how much engagement they’ve had with the CNSA already, as well as initiative taken within the nursing program and extracurricular involvement in the community.

“It’s a great opportunity to network with peers and also high profile professionals and/or politicians from across the country on issues that are important to nursing,” Ross said. “As well, it allows students to act as a leader within their own school when they bring what they’ve learned back here.”

The hope is that funding will continue to be made available, so other students will have the opportunity to attend the conference in the years to come, according to Ross.

“It would sure be nice to have students going every year.”

This year will feature a variety of practical workshops, including one called Safe Talk, which Shibley, a second-time conference attendee and now first-year TRU delegate, is excited to take in.

“It teaches us is how to talk to people who are suicidal or having suicidal ideations,” Shibley said. “The conference is great because every single person in the association is a student, so there’s no faculty or RN’s. It’s kind of cool that a bunch of students can get together and make something this big.”

The week-long conference ends Jan. 26 with this year’s attendees returning to classes next week.

Updated at 3:41 p.m. by copy/web editor.