What inspired you to stand for election to RCN Council?
I started off as an RCN student information officer and it made me even more determined to want to influence change. I wanted to be on the RCN Students Committee but couldn’t as I was at the end of my degree. So I rang the RCN and asked if there was anything more I could do. That’s when I was told about the Council role and I thought “wow”. It seemed a lot of responsibility, but also very exciting. Representing 40,000 students on a national scale is incredible. I was scared at first but now I’m so glad I didn’t take the safe route.
What has the experience done for you?
It’s helped me grow personally and professionally, and deepened my self-belief. I never stood for the role for my own self-purpose but it’s benefitted me in ways I never anticipated. I’ve met so many people and worked alongside some amazing colleagues as well as MPs, Lords and health campaigners – people bursting with knowledge and wisdom.
What have you had the opportunity to influence?
So much. I don’t know where to start. I was a huge part of the campaign to scrap the cap on NHS pay and have fought for the rights of students at every opportunity. We may not have always had the outcome we desired but we had the drive and we put the work in and for that I am so proud.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Experience isn’t everything. Not all good leaders have vast experience and not all great activists have years and years behind them either. What they do have is a passion to advocate for those who can’t express their voices. I remember being in terrible fear of not having the answer to everything but that’s actually not relevant – in my role you are there to put forward what members want and you don’t have to have all the answers. Sometimes your job is to ask the questions.
Why should students, and all members for that matter, engage with RCN Council?
We say a lot that the RCN is its members but people often don’t realise it’s them. It’s you reading this – every single person that takes action on anything – be it rehydration and the RCN’s healthy workplace initiative or campaigning to change perceptions of nursing, it’s all important. It’s everyone’s responsibility to make the profession better and that’s the goal of the RCN.
What would you say to someone considering going for your position?
Forget your doubts and go with your gut. You only get the chance once – you won’t lose by doing it but you will lose a once in a lifetime opportunity by not doing it. We need more people who are new to the profession to bring their unique perspective.
Could you be next?
RCN Council oversees the running of the RCN. It’s made up of 17 members elected to provide leadership and direction for the organisation. Charlotte will step down from her role in December and nominations to replace her are open now. If you’re keen to be the next student member of RCN Council, fill in a nomination form by 4.30pm on 1 October. It’s your chance to influence RCN strategy on student issues and nursing education.