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Become an RCN rep

You can become more involved with the work of the RCN by becoming a health and safety rep, learning rep or RCN 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 or a health care assistant in employment, you can apply to become an RCN steward, safety representative or learning representative.  Being a rep is rewarding but can be challenging so you need to be committed to the aims, objectives and activities of the RCN.  Students are not eligible to become reps, however, there are other ways you can get involved as a student member.

The benefits

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
  • legally entitled to reasonable paid time off for your learning and development and rep duties
  • encouraged to access a specialist area on the RCN's website, which contains a wide range of resources
  • kept up-to-date with news and information via your own monthly newsletter, 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.

How to apply

Start by reading Representatives recruitment leaflet - Proud to make a difference. Complete the short form at the back and submit it to your local RCN office or alternatively register your interest online. 

Your local office will then contact you to arrange an informal chat to discuss the role. If you decide you'd like to proceed with your application, you'll receive an application form. To apply, you need to be nominated by two RCN members. These are people who believe you would make a good rep, and may be colleagues from your branch or work colleagues. 

After you have completed the application form, you should send it to your branch secretary. The application form will only be accepted if you have sent in an expression of interest form and spoken to your regional office.

Once your application has been received there will be a workplace election, after which the branch will ratify your nomination as an elected trade union representative. The regional or national office will inform your employer that you are an accredited RCN representative.

Learning and development programme

As a newly recruited representative, you'll start by attending a foundation module. On successful completion you will move on to your chosen development module which prepares you for your role as RCN learning rep, safety rep or steward. 

Once you’ve completed your foundation and development modules you will be eligible to attend continuing learning and development workshops and events for reps to maintain and develop your skills. We have created a guide to becoming an active rep which details all you need to know about the learning and development programme - Becoming an active representative.

Find out more about the role of a learning rep, safety rep and steward

Learning reps

Support the ambitions of our members by promoting learning and career development.

Safety reps

Help to ensure our members operate within a healthy and safe working environment.


Protect the rights of our members, ensuring fair treatment on all employment related matters.