Kingston University students rub shoulders with royalty at Westminster Abbey event honouring pioneer of modern nursing Florence Nightingale

Posted Thursday 1 June 2017

Two students from the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education were invited to quiz a panel of leading healthcare professionals before rubbing shoulders with royalty at Westminster Abbey this month as part of a celebration of the life of nurse Florence Nightingale. Each year charity organisation the Florence Nightingale Foundation holds a Students' Day, which aims to raise awareness of the founder of modern nursing and her legacy.

Florence Nightingale is famous for her nursing work during the Crimean War (1854-56), where she changed the face of nursing from mostly untrained work to a highly skilled and well-respected profession. International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world annually on her birthday, 12 May.

The Students' Day, which took place at St Thomas' Hospital in London, was attended by midwifery student Helen Lee-Brown and nursing student Ola Peters, whose courses are run jointly by Kingston University and St George's, University of London. "It was a fantastic day," Helen explained. "The student forum focused around the themes of education and leadership, which was very interesting and it was really inspiring to meet other students."

Kingston University is one of the leading providers of health, social care and education courses and training in the UK.Students were encouraged to put questions to an invited panel of leading healthcare professionals, chaired by Geoffrey Walker, Matron at Poole Hospital. The students in attendance grilled the panel on topics including bursaries, common curriculums versus specialisms, and the disconnects between university content and practice.

Karen Elcock, Head of Programmes Pre-registration Nursing and Deputy Head of School, praised the opportunity student attendees were given to meet nursing and midwifery students from across the UK and debate issues of interest. "Students really value the opportunity to pose questions," she said. "Having been a member of this panel in the past, the questions asked are searching and really demonstrate that our students recognise the many challenges that the healthcare profession faces and also that they want to know how they can make a difference."

Florence Nightingale became known as ‘The Lady with the Lamp' during her work in the Crimea.Following the student forum and a tour of the hospital, students took a short walk across Westminster Bridge to Westminster Abbey for the commemoration service to celebrate healthcare professionals and give thanks for Florence Nightingale's extraordinary legacy. In addition to nurses from all over the country and beyond, the service was attended by Princess Alexandra, other dignitaries, Chelsea Pensioners, and members of the Guild of Nurses in their traditional black and red cloaks.

Florence Nightingale became known as ‘The Lady with the Lamp' during her work in the Crimea, where she conducted her night rounds caring for wounded soldiers while holding a lantern. The lamp has become an international symbol of nursing, and the Procession of the Lamp took place during the service. "It was very moving," Helen said. "It felt like a privilege to be there. I would heartily recommend it to any student who is able to attend."

The students were nominated by their course leaders to represent the University, one of the leading providers of health, social care and education courses and training in the United Kingdom. The Faculty plays a pivotal role in shaping the future health, social care and education workforce for London.


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