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The Benefits of Attending a Student-Led Conference

In January I was provided with the opportunity to attend the Canadian Nursing Students’ Association National Conference in Calgary, Alberta. It was an opportunity to immerse myself in the perspective and lived experience of a diverse group of student nurses from across Canada, however, I was taken aback by just how impactful it was. Spending three days engrossed in discussions with other passionate nursing students reignited my understanding of student leadership and the true power it holds. I spoke with students from remote areas, students from other urban areas, students in accelerated programs, and students from four-year nursing degrees. With each discussion, I was reminded of how creative we as students can be, whether that is to better ourselves, our education, our patient’s care, or our communities.

One of the most creative ideas I had come across was a naloxone training program, Healthy U Nanaimo, run by nursing students from Vancouver Island University. They had developed a peer-led program where nursing students would teach other students on campus how to identify and respond to an opioid overdose. This peer-led model helped to eliminate some of the barriers students may face when trying to access this training, including power imbalance, stigma, or access to a naloxone kit. Additionally, providing this training was considered a community nursing placement for the students who participated. I thought this was a really unique placement that allowed students to truly understand the power of peer-to-peer education. This is a concept that I feel is often lacking in healthcare but has the opportunity to assist a lot of patients to reach wellness in various healthcare domains. This interactive session and the conference really got me thinking about how our faculty could engage in peer-to-peer education, whether we offer a naloxone training to other students at the University of Toronto, or whether we hold other health-related workshops.

My most important take away from the Canadian Nursing Students’ Association National Conference is the power that students have to ignite change and overcome problems within our communities. At Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, we are all student leaders who continuously create change within our faculty, clinical environments, and throughout our communities. Attending this conference just re-instated my passion for being a nurse!

Thank you to the Nursing Undergraduate Society for providing this opportunity!

Jessica Arteaga

2nd year student

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