USQ’s Nursing Society is the Support You Wish You’d Had at Uni
Recently, Medshop Australia's team was able to connect with Krisy Podolak. She's the head of the Student Nurse Society for the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), a support group for student nurses at USQ.
They have one simple goal, to make the lives of student nurses better through a robust support model. With Krisy at the helm, they seem poised to do just that, and for a good reason.
New students study nursing charged up with the motivation of helping others fight health challenges.
We, meaning Australia, can’t afford to lose student nurses. The need for nurses in Australia isn’t going down; quite the opposite.
Krisy Podolak has been in her position with the Nurse Society only a few months, but she had a lot to tell us about their work and mission.
In a nutshell, it’s simple, she tells us: “The Nursing Society is a club for nursing students run by nursing students.”
Universities are no stranger to clubs. USQ also has a midwifery club and a paramedics club.
Krisy points out, that the Nursing Society is the only nursing club, and that not all of the clubs are scholastic in nature.
“Student clubs are a core part of student life at USQ, bringing together vibrant and diverse communities and providing opportunities for current USQ students,” she says.
"There are academic clubs and special interest clubs such as the Tea Club and the Harry Potter Club.”
It begs the question, what value could another club provide?
Considering the data on Australia’s dearth of nurses, one could argue that a serious club for nurses is not only timely, but it's also overdue.
The Student Nurse Society was a floundering club looking for direction. There may be hundreds, if not thousands of such groups on any college campus, sailors on ships without captains.
Adding Krisy was the necessary step in giving vision to this club.
“Since I have taken on the club, I have focused on increasing members, established the Facebook page, organised the market day at the beginning of semester two with giveaways and I’m now working on the shirts and our breast cancer fundraiser.”
That’s not a bad start, but running a successful university student club with the intentions of “providing support” is about more than starting Facebook pages and printing t-shirts.
It means getting close to the members, understanding the needs of the club members, finding out what motivates them, and finding out what will keep them motivated.
It’s been no small task. Krisy’s role has been to refine the goals of the club, a task she’s been able to get her arms around quickly.
“Nursing students are the future of our health care system,” she tells us, citing the official goals of the club. “Supporting student nurses through the journey of their studies helps to reduce drop-out rates, build resilience and ensure that the nurses who do graduate from tertiary studies have the necessary skills and knowledge to provide care to the public which is safe, compassionate and holistic.”[caption id="attachment_8189" align="aligncenter" width="750"] usq.edu.au[/caption]
But there’s more…
“The USQ Nursing Society aims to enhance the tertiary education experience of its nursing students through linking student nurses to professional development opportunities, providing support through USQ wellbeing services and hosting social events to build comradery.”
Krisy and her committee must also ensure they have the finances to support any direction the club wants to go. It comes from either independent sources or the club members themselves.
“We rely on support from our local community to keep the society running and to continue to provide these opportunities to USQ nursing students.”
One way the club has been able to raise capital is by creating visibility through campus involvement; rubbing elbows with the right people, marketing themselves to new students and the University, and all with their goals as a guiding light. There would be no point in any of it, otherwise.
On the list for the year so far, they’ve held an International Nurse Day, and occupied a stall at the school’s Market Day so they could talk to new students about being nurses, and planned for a number of future events, like the October Breast Cancer fundraiser.
“This is to raise funds for the McGrath Foundation,” says Krisy. “The donations we have collected will be raffled off and all the funds given to the charity.”
Events like this fundraiser serve more than one purpose. They’re not only a chance to give back but provide for more touchpoint to prospective nurses.
That day, according to Krisy, “… a Breast Care nurse [will] speak at the event to give future nurses an insight into the industry beyond just working in a hospital.”
This kind of real-world insight is invaluable for student nurses. The Student Nurse Club intends to repeat the presumed success of the fundraiser.
Krisy informs us, “… a number of nurse speakers [will] come in to share their skills and knowledge with the nursing students and expand the fields that students may want to focus on in the future.”
Going forward, Krisy has the club’s general direction charted out with at least one event each year focused on giving back. Again, these events are invaluable in more ways than simply giving to the community.
“Next year we have chosen the Ipswich Hospital Foundation, and in particular the Wig Library,” she tells us. “They are a not-for-profit local hospital organisation that provides wigs free of charge to chemo patients.”
When Krisy learned that USQ’s paramedics' club already had cool t-shirts, she had to make a move.
Clubs, like sports teams, develop friendly rivalries. If the student paramedics had shirts, so too would the student nurses. It lets the nurses take pride in a visual way about their chosen profession. It helps them beat back that isolation that causes so many students to drop out.
It’s an eye-catching shirt, according to Krisy. “It proudly displays very clearly what and who we are, STUDENT NURSE.”
With help from sponsors, the club was able to produce the t-shirts at a reduced cost so students wouldn’t have to dig deep just to feel like they belong.
And, for club members who have one, it sounds like they’ll have plenty of reasons to wear their shirts, heading to class, but also at upcoming events.
“As the end of the year is coming to a close, we are now focused on 2019 and our first event - orientation week for semester one,” says Krisy. Then they’ll have, “first-year students for the third week of February and collecting donations to be raffled off and handed out.”
No doubt, Krisy will have her hands full with her own schedule and the needs of the club, but she’s not alone. Remember, it’s for nurses, run by nurses. She’s not a crew-less captain.
For the future of the nurses at USQ, and for the whole of Australia, the future looks bright. Medshop Australia tips our collective hat to Krisy and the nurses of the Nursing Society.
May they continue to flourish in the coming years. We need them.