Student delegates gear up to tackle a range of issues: National Student Unit and Te Runanga Tauira delegates, operating under a new partnership structure, have a hectic year ahead tackling a range of issues.
Subject: Nursing students (Social aspects)
Nursing students (Conferences, meetings and seminars)
Bullying (Management)
Author: Mason, Sara
Pub Date: 02/01/2009
Publication: Name: Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand Publisher: New Zealand Nurses' Organisation Audience: Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 New Zealand Nurses' Organisation ISSN: 1173-2032
Issue: Date: Feb, 2009 Source Volume: 15 Source Issue: 1
Topic: Event Code: 290 Public affairs; 200 Management dynamics; 360 Services information Computer Subject: Company business management
Organization: Organization: New Zealand Nurses Organisation
Geographic: Geographic Scope: New Zealand Geographic Code: 8NEWZ New Zealand
Accession Number: 194904198

A number of burning issues emerged at the inaugural three-day meeting of the National Student Unir (NSU) last month, under its new partnership structure. The new structure enables one NSU and Te Runanga Tauira (TRT) delegate from each nursing school and 23 attended this meeting. This commitment to a true bicultural partnership, which NSU has proudly adopted, was reflected by each of the delegates' willingness to contribute their leadership skills and drive.

The partnership was evident when the nursing school reports were presented during the meeting, the majority of which were written and submitted by both delegates from each school. Nationally, several burning issues emerged. These included a lack of consistency in terms of nursing programme delivery and grading, tutor retention/recruitment issues, lack of transparency between students and their schools, lack of adequate student consultation about changes to courses, programme content and restrictions on clinical placement/clinical tutor availability.

Stopping bullying

Bullying behaviour was a hot topic that NSU collectively felt needed to be addressed to stop the cycle of abuse from the beginning of our careers. There was a session during the training on bullying, provoking much discussion among delegates. This resulted in a shared commitment towards reducing incidences of bullying, by providing education and support.

All these issues showed us we did not stand alone bur shared many of the same problems and goals in our schools.

Many students are interested in the Maori nursing degree and how this is progressing. We discussed the recruitment and retention of Maori students and how each school has supported this. Retention issues in general and mental health nursing were also discussed.

Another problem area is the accreditation of hours for NSU/TRT delegates. If this is unsupported by individual schools, it results in the loss of both clinical and theory hours for delegates who are on NSU business.

Successful planning

The first day of the delegate training provided us with tools to assist us and the year was successfully planned in the following two days, with a lot of work in store for the delegates.

The delegate training provided a look into the history of the nursing union movement and an understanding of NZNO's structure. The training not only gave us important tools, but also created a working unit out of the delegates. We were able to see how the NZNO structure facilitates a collective strength towards common goals and how to use this for the benefit of our members. We came away from this delegate training empowered and united.

NZNO policy analyst Marilyn Head gave an overview of national concerns pertaining to nurses, including after hours primary care, aged care, overseas nurses, management and industrial issues, including the risks placed on workers. This gave us a greater understanding of the issues on a national and global level, and how the organisation collectively works on many of these topics.

The delegates also worked on a survey that will be going out nationally to nursing students this year to help us understand their concerns. We are working with NZNO researcher Leonie Walker to create a quantitative survey, the results of which will be presented to the heads of school and the Nursing Council.

Out of the NSU strategic plan and the issues that emerged nationally, four priorities have been identified and four sub committees have been formed dedicated to achieving these outcomes.

The first priority is having both a TRT and NSU representative on NZNO's board of directors. One sub-committee began work early this month to ensure completion of a remit to this effect for NZNO's conference in September. (See also viewpoint p16-17.)

The second priority is the recruitment of both an NSU and TRT delegate from each nursing school. We will be using Koi Tioki Nursing New Zealand to publicise our survey and help get all schools acquainted with the NSU. Orientation events are being targeted and recruitment emails will be sent to student members inviting them to get involved by representing their schools.

The accreditation of delegate hours for clinical/theory hours is the third priority for this year. It is important to ensure the success of our delegates and protect them from losing hours while attending NZNO and NSU meetings and carrying out NSU delegate work.

Lobbying on nursing student issues is the fourth priority. We will be following on and improving on the survey that began last year and will compare and share results with the heads of schools when we meet with them in July

The meeting was a powerful tribute to the future of nursing in New Zealand. Each delegate shared a common passion for nursing and a willingness to support each other on their journey towards becoming registered

nurses. Over the three days, the leadership of each individual delegate shined through. Concerns were brought to the fore and, with the direction of NSU chair Michelle Wipiiti and TRT chair Paula King, the true meaning of partnership within the new structure was sealed. I believe I can say from all of us that we are proud to be a part of NSU and NZNO.

* I would like to acknowledge the contributions of NSU and TRT delegates Michelle Wipiiti, Paula King, Amy Brookes and Michelle Rocha in writing this article.

Sara Mason is a second-year nursing student at Southland Institute of Technology.
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.