I can still remember when I first joined the NSWNA. I was in RPA Hospital for the Trainee Enrolled Nurse (TEN) orientation day when the NSWNA team spoke and handed out pamphlets to us encouraging us to join the union.
I signed in right there and then because everyone did. Back then what I knew about unions can do for its member can fit a tiny match box. All I knew was that unions provide support for member nurses who get into trouble or at the receiving end of any injustice at work.
That was my attitude then. I joined because everyone did. But now, I’m so pleased I did. I have reaped the benefits of being a part of a union. There are I have a lot of things that I am thankful for.
1. Being a union member is more than fighting for fair pay or attending demonstrations against the Government for nurse-related issues.
During my third year at university (Australian Catholic University – North Sydney campus), whilst reading the latest issue of The Lamp, I saw the ad for the Edith Cavell Trust Foundation scholarship. Scholarship applications were being accepted at the time so I thought why not give it a shot, I’ve got nothing to lose.
So armed with nothing but my completed application form and positive vibes, I lodged my application. I waited then I waited some more. A few months have gone by before I heard from NSWNA about the decision. Imagine my great surprise when I received a letter from the union confirming that I, Ruth Guevara, a migrant from the Philippines was awarded the scholarship! That was one of the happiest days of my life!
At the end of my last semester at ACU, to show how grateful I was to be awarded this beautiful gift of financial assistance, I wrote a letter of thanks to the union where I also briefly shared my university life. Not in my wildest dreams did I think that the board will appreciate my letter enough to ask me if they could publish it in the Lamp magazine.
Of course, I said yes because it is an honour to be featured in the Lamp. It became the letter of the month on the Lamp March 2009 issue. I honestly thought that was the end of my affiliation with the union but obviously it didn’t stop there.
2. My union does not only support our rights as nurses, my union also provides as a platform to participate in the 21st century’s way of communicating and interacting with other nurses.
I saw an ad in The Lamp calling for volunteers to champion the new social networking website that is currently under development sponsored by NSWNA. I wasn’t sure whether I had anything to contribute and if I wrote well enough to make a positive influence in our nursing community but just like the scholarship application, I gave it a go and registered my interest. After all, I had nothing to lose and I might learn new skills in the Internet that I didn’t know about!
Fortunately for me, after submitting a sample blog post on a given topic and an informal chat with our Social Media Tutor, I got in the shortlisted and was advised that I was selected!
With 4 other nurses, we headed to our training workshop at the NSWNA office which was conducted by Shannon’s Way. This workshop allowed me to meet the 4 other nurses selected to be part of the pilot group and to learn about the proposed site. This was back in June prior to the launch of Nurse Uncut and now, as they say, the rest is history!
Nurse Uncut is live and flourishing. A site for the voice of nurses like you and me to be heard. I am honoured to be part of the Nurse Uncut pioneers. The site didn’t just let me meet and interact with other nurses, being part of the pilot group also gave me new skills. Prior to joining Nurse Uncut, my internet activity were limited to emails, web surfing, Facebook and Yahoo Messenger. Now, I am blogging (writing blog posts on topics near and dear to my heart, I have accounts in LinkedIn, Twitter and learning more and more about social media. Not only that, I also got to be in the cover of The Lamp! All of these courtesy of NSWNA.
I really feel good about myself. I am learning first hand what the Union can do for me. NSWNA is like family to me. The union bore witness to the beginning of my nursing career till where I am now. I am confident that my union will be with me till the day I retire. I’m very thankful to them.
What about you? Are you a member of your union? What do you like about them? If you’re not a member, what’s stopping you to join?