Jessica Lillico-Prior RCN Nursing congress

Jessica Lillico-Prior, a third-year child health nursing student, recently attended the Royal College of Nursing Congress (RCN) Congress in Liverpool to present a student perspective on sustainability in the nursing curriculum. 

Attending alongside Professor Janet Richardson, and drawing on her experience as an undergraduate in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Jess was able to talk about the value of the sustainability sessions she had attended, and how they had made her think about her clinical practice. 

Jess also facilitated a group discussion in the workshop that introduced participants to the recently launched NurSusTOOLKIT activities, which are designed to raise awareness of sustainability and climate change in nursing and health curricula. 

Jess said:

"Before presenting, I was terrified! I don’t often do public speaking so I was very nervous but what I was asked to present I was an expert in; a student’s perspective. So once I got into speaking, I felt it went well and the presenting part was over before I knew it. I facilitated the workshop discussion on the “coffee cup game”. Enthusiastic and engaged attendees really helped me to feel confident in delivering this workshop and I was surprised that the attendees' input led me to think about aspects I previously hadn’t thought about. As a whole, I’m so glad I was offered this opportunity as it has increased my confidence in facilitating learning and also, challenged my sustainable practice further."

The fringe event was hosted by the RCN Policy, International and Parliamentary Department, which has been proactively taking forward the Climate Change and Sustainability agenda within the RCN. The RCN is also a founding member of the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, which is made up of heath professional bodies aiming to encourage better approaches to tackling climate change that protect and promote public health, while also reducing the burden on health services.

Talking about her RCN Congress experience in general, Jess added:

"Congress was an amazing experience. The debates were definitely my favourite part – so many passionate nurses, some speaking on topics which were extremely relevant to current nursing practice. While I didn’t go up and speak; it was great to hear each side of the argument and overall, a very inspiring atmosphere to be in. Though a lot smaller, there were also lots of fringe events each day and as there were several on at once, picking which one to go proved extremely difficult. Congress has been a great learning opportunity for me, and I would definitely recommend any nurse, or student nurse, attending should they get the opportunity."


This online platform provides a host of materials to put climate change and sustainability at the heart of healthcare training. 

For example, one exercise asks students to consider how they could continue to deliver healthcare if equipment made from plastic was no longer available. Other activities are designed to make links between staying healthy and caring for the environment.

The toolkit is the outcome of a three-year collaboration between the University of Plymouth and universities in Esslingen (Germany), Jaen (Spain) and Maastricht (the Netherlands), funded by European Union programme Erasmus+.

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