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Nursing students call for global relief efforts


Students from the School of Nursing attended the Canadian Nursing Students Association 2010 National Conference in Quebec City.

By Sharon Gray

Five nursing students at Memorial have added their voice to the already strong efforts to address the recent earthquake disaster in Haiti.

“We wanted to make a difference, so we decided to write our Nursing Leadership paper on the role that the Canadian Nursing Students Association (CNSA) could play on the global stage to help in such disasters,” said Megan Hudson, a third-year nursing student.

On Jan. 25 the five students presented their paper on Global Relief Efforts in Natural Disasters to the Canadian Nursing Students Association (CNSA) 2010 National Conference in Quebec City and called for the CNSA to endorse, support and become involved in global relief efforts during natural disasters on a national and international level.

Ashley Richardson, CNSA representative for the school of Nursing, said their idea was very timely.

“Their paper was presented to the delegates and after an enthusiastic debate their resolution was passed to support the work of the CNSA in global relief efforts.”

The CNSA has nearly 25,000 members and is the official voice of nursing students in Canada. For over 30 years, CNSA has represented the interest of nursing students to federal, provincial and international governments and to other nursing and health care organizations. This year the CNSA’s annual conference was set in Quebec City with over 400 nursing students attending the weeklong conference.

Dr. Sandra MacDonald, a nursing professor at Memorial, was very impressed with the quality of the students’ work and supported their idea of presenting their paper as a resolution at the national conference.

“The students explored previous position papers by CNSA and saw a gap in their national and international presence. So they wanted to focus the CNSA and ask them to explore their role in natural disasters. It fit with the course assignment so off they went!”

Presenting the paper to the 400 CNSA members was a little stressful but “once we got going we wanted it to pass, so we all worked together and answered their questions so that they could vote in favour of the position.” said Jessica Peddle-Drover.

As members of the CNSA, the nursing students are also members of the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) and the International Council of Nurses (ICN).

“We referred to the CNA and the ICN position papers on global health and equity, and emergency preparedness, and we incorporated those national and international principles into our paper,” said Krista Howell.

Those principles include developing professional relationships that support emergency response before emergencies occur, recognizing the importance of government and relief organizations in establishing support for relief workers and direct disaster victims, and a belief in the principles of social justice and equal availability of essential health and social services for all.

The paper called for the CNSA to endorse, support and become involved in global relief efforts and acknowledge the impact of natural disasters on both national and international levels, promote and support strategies that prevent the spread of disease through education about diseases and social behaviours associated with disasters that may be exacerbated by deteriorated living conditions, advocate for global equality and availability of essential resources such as clean and safe water to all people by developing global partnerships to gain insight and knowledge, as well as aid in relief efforts.

Those global partnerships should include networks with other nursing student associations, professional disciplines, governmental and non-governmental agencies at local, regional, national, and international levels. The paper also called for CNSA to facilitate nursing students’ fundraising and travelling to participate in global relief efforts.

As a direct result of the nursing students’ efforts, CNSA will begin to outline a clear direction for action in assisting with global relief efforts during natural disasters and they now officially recognize that nurses and nursing students have a responsibility to advocate at all levels of government, nursing student organizations, professional disciplines and non-government agencies as the local, national and international levels for global relief in natural disasters.

CNSA will continue to work with others to promote an appreciation and create heightened awareness for global relief efforts and the need for nursing students and the nursing profession to become involved in leadership roles and establish support for relief workers and disaster victims. “We were so happy that our efforts were recognized and now we feel that we had a small part to play in the future of the CNSA,” said Jessica Hunt.

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