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Faculty student elected as London representative on RCN Students Committee

Gary Stockwell.First year adult nursing student Gary Stockwell has been elected the London representative on the Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) Students Committee. Gary beat almost 10,000 students from nine universities across the capital to be elected to the position.

His interest in nursing came after he sustained a skydiving injury during his time in the armed forces. After several years spent in the army working alongside nurses as they treated injured soldiers in Afghanistan, Gary found himself facing five months in hospital with a shattered pelvis. He was fortunate to survive.

He told the Royal College of Nursing website “The experience of being immobile and at the mercy of others made me evaluate what I wanted to do with my life and a career in caring seemed the obvious choice.” Being a patient for such a long time gave him a genuine insight into what the experience is like for others and, he says, made him a better nurse. He takes care to put items within reach of patients who can’t get out of bed, and ensures that their dignity is preserved.

Gary cites an austerity-hit public sector and potentially damaging NHS reforms as reasons for seeking a role on the Student Committee.

“Nursing students are facing challenging times right now. Cuts mean jobs are becoming scarce and there is a lot of uncertainty about what impact changes to the NHS will have on us. I want to have an influence and help shape decisions by getting the student voice heard.”

With his time on the committee Gary wants to raise student awareness of what exactly the RCN does as well as the benefits of membership. He said “I plan to take an active approach to spreading the word and hope to run student education days at universities across London.”

Karen Elcock, head of programmes in the School of Nursing, said “It is an accolade for Gary and important for us. Nurse education is facing considerable challenges at the moment with significant changes in the NHS and the recent tender exercise in London all of which will impact on the student nurse experience and therefore student representatives are essential to keep education high on the agenda at the RCN.”

Gary’s tutor, Maggie Davenport, said “It’s very exciting news. We are delighted and considering that there are 9 universities in London running a pre-registration nursing programme he has done very well to achieve this.”