Feb. 26, 2020

Top 10 reasons why nursing students should attend CNSA’s national conference

Nursing undergrads recap the benefits of attending Canadian Nursing Students’ Association (CNSA) National Conference

The Canadian Nursing Students’ Association (CNSA) National Conference is a chance for nursing students across Canada to get together and develop their leadership skills, professional communication/networking and to further explore areas of nursing that they are passionate about.

In January this year, UCalgary Nursing undergraduate students Jenna Nguyen (Term 8), the UNS CNSA official delegate; Kanal Yadav (Term 4), the UNS CNSA associate delegate; Alice Choi (Term 4); and Athena Liu (Term 2), attended the conference at McGill University in Montreal.

“CNSA represents nursing students on a provincial and federal level,” says Nguyen. “They aim to increase the legal, ethical, professional and educational aspects of the nursing profession by advocating for changes we bring up at the national conference.” 

Collectively, the four undergrads compiled this list of top 10 reasons why nursing students should try to attend the CNSA conference.

1. You meet students from across Canada

"One of our favourite things about attending the national conference is being able to meet students from across the nation! We each come with our own background of nursing experiences and it’s always fun to share them with one another and laugh about it together."

Canadian nursing students taking on a Code Blue simulation at McGill.

Canadian nursing students taking on a Code Blue simulation at McGill.

2. CNSA is run by nursing students for nursing students

"As a general member who has never really heard about what CNSA does, it’s amazing to hear about how this organization - run BY nursing students FOR nursing students - can have an impact on a national level. Members of the board of directors attend conferences hosted by the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) and the Confederation of Nurses Unions and are voting members. That really validates the feeling that even as nursing students, we can have a national impact!"

3. The workshops/sessions cover a wide range of nursing topics

"The workshops and breakout sessions are always fun as we get to learn about topics that aren’t always addressed in our programs. These sessions can range from Code Blue simulations to learning about nursing leadership and areas of research nurses are branching into. After workshops, the presenter usually stays around for us to ask further questions; some even give out their contact info!"  

4. You meet a variety of nurses working in the field

"One of the most popular workshops hosted at every national conference is Nursing Speed Dating. We get to meet nurses in various areas in the field and learn more about their jobs. For some of us, this is how we discovered areas of nursing that we were drawn to so we were able to direct our questions then and there to someone who was actively in the field. Another area of nursing that we didn’t think we’d be interested in but ended up learning a lot about graduate studies. There is a sponsor/exhibitor area where many schools promote their grad study programs."

5. You might even sit next to influential nursing leaders (like the CEO of CNA)

"You meet some really unexpected people at conference! This year, we accidentally had breakfast with the CEO of CNA [Mike Villeneuve] without even realizing. As daunting as it may seem, these people are at the conference to support the efforts of students and to acknowledge our passions. Not that we need to be validated to be student leaders, but it’s always nice hearing it from someone else that what we’re doing is worthwhile and important."

6. There’s time to travel and explore the host city and school

"As fun as the conference itself is, another huge bonus is being able to travel and explore the host city! We were super excited to try out local foods and visit beautiful Montreal landmarks that were within walking distance of the hotel! In the evening, there were social events and we were also so close to McGill so we couldn’t pass up the chance to visit their campus as well."

7. You learn about how other nursing programs run

"It was really interesting to see how each of our programs were structured and how differently we did our clinical hours. At the same time, we are all going to be the same thing when we graduate. Some programs require a personal essay to apply into the program, some have a wait list and some don’t even do their entire program on one campus!"

8. Get inspired by other student leaders to change the world

"When we hear what other students are doing across the country, it’s easy to forget that we are just like them - that we are all nursing students. Sometimes we just look at a student and we’re like “wow…they’re kind of amazing” and it leaves us inspired to want to do more."

9. It’s an opportunity for self-discovery

"Attending all these workshops, meeting these students and learning about their experiences really gets you thinking about your own identity as a student nurse. Are you a student leader? What kind of leader are you? What drives you? You can take the time to explore these newly discovered passions with people who share the same ideas and start formulating your own way of thinking about your practice."

10. Build a community that lasts long after the conference ends

"Talking to all the new people and hearing the stories they share really helps build a sense of community. You realize that you’re not alone, that there is a whole organization that stands behind you and that you are an agent of change, even in the smallest capacity."