Year of the Nurse: Student Nathan Harrison

Categories: School of Health and Society

From balancing placements and exams, to having a social life and getting a good night’s sleep – life as a student nurse can be demanding.

To celebrate the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, Nathan Harrison, a second-year adult nursing student, details how he manages to keep on top of it all.

Where It Started

Before Nathan began studying at Salford, he worked as a healthcare assistant at Royal Bolton Hospital. He says that his experiences there inspired him to apply for the adult nursing course.

‘The hospital has students from this University and they encouraged me to go for it. They were really good students, they seemed to know what they were doing and were really knowledgeable – that made me choose here.’

It was also the practical elements of the course that sparked his interest.

‘We do 50 percent in theory and 50 percent in practice. All my placements have been at the Salford Royal and I’ve done various wards and departments. I really enjoyed it.’

Nursing Society

Nathan is also the chairperson of the University’s Nursing Society; he took over from the committee at congress the previous year.

From there, he ran a Twitter appeal to get more students involved with the committee, before relaunching the society in the new year.

‘People have really gotten on board with it. I’ve had some great support from the School [of Health and Society]. Students seem to be really happy that we’re getting involved, because it’s like another stream of support for them. The whole reason we work is to support other students, to be listening to what other students want and then seeing what we can facilitate from that.’

The society has had the support of Associate Dean Neil Withnell – who Nathan says has ‘been amazing’ at helping to get the society off the ground.

‘Staff have supported the society on social media as well, including Margaret Rowe, Dean of the School. It’s so nice to have all this support around us.’


Along with child nursing student Jane Boardman, Nathan has been accepted onto a prestigious student leadership programme.

Known as #150Leaders, the programme is a partnership between the Council of Deans and the Burdett Trust for Nursing. A select number of healthcare students from across the country are provided with conferences, coaching and an online community to help develop their leadership skills. 

Nathan first heard about the programme through his involvement with the Nursing Society. Their previous treasurer had taken part in #150Leaders the year before and had spoken ‘really highly’ of it.

‘I couldn’t believe it when I found out I got on the programme. It was a surprise – I think it received more than 300 applications and two of us from Salford got places, which is amazing!’ Nathan said. 

The first conference is in March, and the students’ transport and accommodation costs will be covered by the programme. Nathan is looking forward to getting #150Leaders underway – particularly to network with students from a range of healthcare courses and focus on his self-development. 

‘I’ve been really interested in healthcare leadership, so this was the perfect opportunity. [I wanted to apply] just for personal development. I’ve done a lot at University which I’ve been able to reflect on. I feel like since I’ve started this course, I’ve been able to develop myself and I know so much more about myself than I did before.

‘I think being in second year now, it’s the perfect opportunity. Then as third year approaches, when we’ll be going into the registered profession, I’ll be in a better position because I’ll have these leadership qualities.’

As the life of a student nurse is so hectic anyway, the School has helped by allowing flexible study days. The programme’s first conference is during Nathan’s work placement period, but thanks to flexible study days, he will still be able to attend without compromising his studies.

Social Media

Nathan uses Twitter and Facebook to share his passion for nursing. Whether it’s being active on the Nursing Society social media accounts, or conducting numeracy questions and polls, engaging with others online is an important part of Nathan’s role.

With this in mind, the Nursing Society have set up a hashtag, #WeSalfordStNs, for students to show off their work and to find support. This was inspired by other universities which have had success with similar initiatives.

‘Not many people use Twitter as a professional platform, and I don’t think they realise the benefits of doing it.The Nursing and Midwifery Council Code says that we’re able to use social media - they actually support it for professional use. So that’s why we’ve started our own hashtag, to get people from the University engaging with each other.’

The hashtag isn’t the only venture that Nathan has introduced. He has recently launched a support network on Facebook, after an industry placement debrief revealed that parents and carers were struggling with time management.

‘I remember this one session, a few people got upset and it was a bit sad, really. I got this idea to launch a peer support network on Facebook for parents and carers,’ he explained. ‘It’s an open forum for parents and carers to network with each other, socialise, get peer support and to share their successes. I don’t think people shout enough about the things they do in a programme – I think it’s such an achievement to finish the programme because it’s really intense. Especially with the added responsibilities of being a parent of carer!’

The page is even being used as a point of reference by the University of Bradford, who are ‘doing some learning’ on the initiative.

‘That’s where it comes back to social media,’ Nathan explained. ‘We shared the page on social media, had lots of people retweeting it, and that’s how Bradford actually found out about this page. They contacted me and asked for some more information, so I provided them with the full plan of the page. They really liked the idea of a peer support network so they’re launching their own in April.’

Looking Forward

Originally, Nathan wanted to be a hospice nurse; he enjoyed the setting and nature of the work. However, at Salford, he has challenged himself and is open to new opportunities. This has led him to take on work experience in A and E.

‘I’ve absolutely loved it – I never expected to want to work in A and E,’ he said. ‘But now, it’s something I’m wanting to do once I’ve qualified. I’ve been doing some agency work as a support worker in A and E departments across Manchester and I’ve just loved it.’

Keep up to date with Nathan’s work on Twitter.

For all press office enquiries please email communications@salford.ac.uk or phone 0161 295 2238.