Beth Williams and Ryan McDonald have had their eyes opened and futures expanded through their involvement in the Canadian Nursing Students’ Association (CNSA).
Now, the two third-year students of the Western Regional School of Nursing in Corner Brook are hoping to inspire others to broaden their careers as leaders in the health care profession.
McDonald attended conferences this year, unaware of what the organization really did and what the conferences entailed. However, he quickly realized how much he didn’t know about the opportunities that exist in a nursing profession.
Sights set on a career as a surgery nurse, the Deer Lake man now recognizes the significance of continuing his education — something he would not have dreamed of before being inspired by a nurse practitioner who spoke at one of the association’s conferences.
“It just shows all the opportunities, and how much diversity there is in nursing,” he said. “You don’t just have to work in a hospital, or on a unit, doing bedside nursing. You can work in the community, as an educator, and you are always a leader as a nurse.”
Williams, also of Deer Lake, has been participating in association events since her first year. Aspiring to become a public health nurse and work with children, she has also learned the significance of ongoing education. She is also considering options with teaching or as a liaison with nursing faculty and the student or nursing association.
“The (Canadian Nursing Students’ Association) wasn’t very known within our school,” she said. “Now, we are really trying to change that.”
At the national conference in British Columbia in January, they were both elected to the association’s board of directors. It is the first time a student representing the Western Regional School of Nursing has been on the board in more than a decade. Williams is the atlantic regional director, representing more than 25,000 nursing students. For her, she said stepping forward on the national board is significant for the entire school.
“It is just an honour to show that we are here and not on the backburner anymore,” she said. “When people look at our school, and we go to these conferences, they know who we are.”
McDonald is the diversity officer on the board, representing various groups and voices — often in minority — such as aboriginals, the LGBTQ community, and Francophones.
“Diversity has always been important to me,” he said. “I am glad to be able to be a voice, able to advocate for more minorities.
“It is about being a voice for 25,000-plus nursing students, and having their voices heard, and collaborating with people across the country.”
Their board positions take effect Saturday.