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CNSA: Developing leadership through engagement in professional organizations

By CN Content posted 09-05-2017 00:00
Sep 05, 2017, By: Leah Carrier, Josh Duncan

To develop the voice of nursing students and increase students’ involvement in the profession, CNSA offers support to attend conferences, board meetings and other events involving nursing stakeholders. The students who take part in these leadership opportunities share the experiences and knowledge gained with their peers and classmates, allowing for increased learning opportunities outside the classroom. Participants develop crucial leadership qualities, including advocacy, innovation and transformational leadership abilities, that will improve their readiness for future practice and prepare them to assume roles as nurse leaders.

One successful initiative CNSA has established is committing to send board members to relevant conferences and other events. For example, CNSA provided funding for global health committee chair Vigne Sridharan and vice‑president Leah Carrier to attend the International Council of Nurses (ICN) congress in Barcelona, Spain, at the end of May. At the ICN Nursing Student Assembly, they represented CNSA in a panel discussion about how nursing education should be at the forefront of practice change and humanizing nursing care. Sridharan and Carrier connected with students, nurses and educators during various sessions and shared their take on key issues in Canadian nursing education. As well, this was an opportunity to enhance their skills in preparing presentations and public speaking, which will promote success in future leadership endeavours.

While in Spain, the two also attended the Global Association of Student and Novice Nurses (GASNN) inaugural conference, where they presented some of their research and leadership projects. In meeting students and novice nurses from all over the world to discuss education systems, professional organizations and priority issues in nursing, Sridharan and Carrier established valuable connections with other organizations and identified potential collaborations on projects of shared interest. GASNN co-founder and president Paisly Symenuk is a former CNSA board member and global health committee chair.

CNSA launched the Leadership Development Program at the end of 2016. To date, this initiative has provided financial support for a student to attend the CNA board meeting and annual meeting of members, held in Ottawa in June, and for another to go to the CNSA board meeting in St. John’s in August. Through these events, the students gain a better understanding of how national organizations operate and learn about other nursing leadership opportunities available to them.

Recipients were determined by the CNSA career and leadership development committee, based on submissions of a short essay highlighting the student’s involvement with leadership. All the submissions yielded excellent examples of nursing leadership demonstrated in practice and in academic life, says Josh Duncan, CNSA’s director of career and leadership development. It was truly inspiring to read about the advocacy and hard work that students across the country are engaged in.

Russell Cadsky, a fourth-year student from MacEwan University, was selected to attend the 2017 CNA annual meeting. He has been active in CNSA throughout his school career and hopes to continue developing his leadership skills, pursuing advocacy through CNA.

Mike Woywitka, a second-year student from North Island College, was selected to attend the CNSA board meeting. He plans to be more involved with CNSA in the future and hopes to become a more active leader at his school.

CNSA has a vested interest in cultivating leadership in nursing students so they become leaders in clinical practice and in professional nursing organizations as nurses. It will continue to pursue avenues for promoting student involvement and engagement. Ideas for expanding the Leadership Development Program include sponsoring students to attend CNSA regional conferences and provincial association annual general meetings.

Leah Carrier is CNSA’s vice-president. She is a fourth-year student at Dalhousie University in Halifax.
Josh Duncan is CNSA’s director of career and leadership development. He is a third-year student at North Island College in Courtenay, B.C.