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Inverness nursing student set to represent peers at Royal College of Nursing

By Federica Stefani

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Nursing students Shivonne MacLean and Lou Hyett-Collins in the clinical skills suite at UHI House in Inverness.
Nursing students Shivonne MacLean and Lou Hyett-Collins in the clinical skills suite at UHI House in Inverness.

Two third-year students from the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) have been elected to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Student Committee, marking a significant achievement for both the students and the university.

Shivonne MacLean (39), from Inverness, and Lou Hyett-Collins (48), from Fochabers, will serve as Scottish representatives on the committee, with Ms Hyett-Collins also taking up the role as vice chair.

The RCN UK Student Committee comprises nursing students from across the UK and plays a crucial role in shaping RCN policy, student recruitment, and communication strategies to better serve its student members.

Dr Heather Bain, associate head of the Centre for Rural Health Sciences at UHI said: “This is a fantastic achievement for both Lou and Shivonne, and we are delighted for them both!

"We are extremely proud of all our students’ achievements, and we actively encourage students to be the voice of nursing within UHI and beyond. The fact that we have two individuals representing the voice of student nurses for the RCN is raising the profile of nursing in the Highlands and Islands.”

Ms Hyett-Collins, who decided to pursue a career in nursing after 20 years as an English and sociology teacher, expressed her privilege to represent Scottish student nurses and hold the role of Vice Chair on the RCN Students Committee

She said: “Advocating for patients is part of a nurse’s role, yet often we may need support to advocate for ourselves.”

“As the UK’s largest union and professional body for nursing, the RCN represents nurses and nursing, promotes excellence in practice and shapes health policies.

“In my role as Vice Chair I’m keen to support the Chair and the rest of the committee to raise our profile, advocate for student nurses across the UK and amplify their voices.”

“After receiving UCAS offers from other universities, I chose UHI due to the warm welcome and personalised communication during the interview process which suggested this would be a supportive and friendly place to study.”

Ms MacLean, now studying nursing in Inverness after completing her first year of studies in Stornoway, described her appointment as a national representative on the student committee as an exciting opportunity.

“I've been an RCN Student Ambassador since first year and this feels like a natural progression/extension," she explained.

"It's a chance to represent Scottish student nurses at a UK level within the RCN, and an opportunity to really get involved and speak up on issues that affect our education and the future of nursing.

“I decided to study with UHI because it means I can study locally, which was a big factor for me as a mature student with a mortgage etc. I hope to be a rural community/district nurse after qualifying and as there are also challenges and circumstances unique to rural/Highland nursing it meant being able to study here was the perfect choice for me.”

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