Become an RCN rep
If you are an RCN member and a registered nurse, nursing associate or nursing support worker in employment, you can apply to become an RCN representative.
You can become more involved with the work of the RCN by becoming a learning rep, safety representative (rep) or steward. Find out about the benefits of being an RCN rep and how to become one.
Becoming an RCN rep gives you the chance to make a real difference to your patients, the working lives of yourself and your colleagues - and even the future of nursing.
If you are an RCN member and a registered nurse, nursing associate, nursing support worker or health care assistant in employment, you can apply to become an RCN learning representative, safety representative or steward. Being a rep is rewarding. You will get support from a close community of reps and RCN staff. Ongoing learning and development will help you become active as a rep and you will learn new skills, which can enhance your nursing role. Students are not eligible to become reps, however, there are other ways you can get involved as a student member.
What you need to know about the role
Start by reading the Becoming an RCN Representative booklet. You can print out the application form at the back, complete it and send it to your local RCN office. Alternatively, register your interest online.
Once we have received your application, someone will then contact you to arrange an informal chat to discuss the role. This will give you an opportunity to talk through any questions you might have. More information about the application process is detailed in the booklet.
Learning and training must be valued and protected to ensure the nursing workforce can deliver high quality care. Our members should expect to have fair and equal access within a positive learning culture, which treats them with dignity and respect.
Learning reps provide space for members to think about their current practice and future aspirations, and consider what learning they need to reach their goals. Where members are struggling or discouraged, learning reps help them access support and resources to boost their confidence, and challenge systemic barriers that might be getting in their way.
Learning reps build strong relationships in their workplace and understand how to influence for change. They connect with members to find out what matters to them, provide support to get those issues heard and win changes that make a difference.
The health and wellbeing of the nursing workforce is fundamental to the quality of care they can provide. Our members have the right to a safe, healthy and empowering workplace culture, where they are treated fairly with dignity and respect.
RCN safety reps understand and champion safe working practice and environments. They help members to understand what they should expect and how to identify where standards fall short, leaving them at risk.
Safety reps build strong relationships in their workplace and understand how to influence for change. They connect with members to find out what matters to them, provide support to get those issues heard and win changes that make a difference.
The skills, knowledge, competence and responsibilities of the nursing workforce must be recognised and valued through fair pay and terms and conditions. Our members should expect to be treated fairly within a culture of respect and dignity.
When members are facing difficult employment issues, stewards will ensure that they feel empowered to speak up and engage in formal processes. With good representation, members can be confident that they will get the fair hearing they deserve.
RCN stewards build strong relationships in their workplace and understand how to influence for change. They connect with members to find out what matters to them, provide support to get those issues heard and win changes that make a difference.
Being a rep can be an incredibly fulfilling role – read ‘The Value of Reps: In Our Own Words’ to learn about what our reps have gained from taking on the role.
As an RCN representative, you are:
- fully supported by RCN staff and by a network of other representatives throughout the UK
- specially trained, with your continuing learning and development needs met by the RCN
- encouraged to access a specialist area on the RCN's website, which contains a wide range of resources
- kept up to date with news, advice, stories from other active members and tips on wellbeing at rcn.org.uk/activate
- invited to attend national conferences and events
- entitled to a 25 per cent discount off the member rate for RCN conferences organised solely by the RCN
- eligible to receive a special RCN award that recognises your hard work and achievements.
Where the RCN has a recognition agreement with an employer, trade union reps have statutory right to reasonable, paid time off from employment to carry out union duties. All NHS and many independent sector employers have recognition agreements with the RCN. If you do not think your organisation has one, please talk to your RCN regional office about how we might work together to negotiate support and time-off for the role.
The pathway for RCN reps is a blended learning experience that comprises both online self-directed learning and three group learning events (that can take place either in person or online).
During the pathway, you will learn in small groups in a very practical way. It’s not formal or anything like school or college. We encourage a safe and supportive learning environment to ensure you feel comfortable enough to have a go at the activities you will be undertaking as a rep.
We believe that our newly accredited reps bring a huge amount of life experience to the role. We have a wide range of learning activities that give you the opportunity to not only gain new knowledge and skills, but also build on those you already have.
Have a read of the Becoming an RCN Representative booklet. It provides more information about each of the rep roles and what to expect from the pathway.
Find out about the benefits of being an RCN rep from those who know
Hear from Olga, job steward, West Midlands — and others
Hear from Billy, safety rep and job steward, Wales — and others
Hear from Francis, learning rep, Northern Ireland — and others
Hear from Ann Marie, job steward, South East — and others