As we stand being clapped by a room full of academics we wonder to ourselves quite how this happened, especially to us, just three students...
Rewind five months and we are sitting in front of our lecturer who is trying to convince us to submit an abstract for NET 2017, trying was the operative word. We were not convinced there would be any point in submitting an abstract; we were just students, just trying to reach the end of the course with our marbles still vaguely in the same vicinity as us. Why would our abstract get accepted? Why would anyone want to hear about our concept? Why would we add to our already burgeoning workload? Eventually, we were convinced to try, we quickly wrote an abstract which was submitted at the eleventh hour.
Our abstract, Peer education in midwifery using an interactive board game experience, looked at a project we had undertaken in our second year. We were tasked with creating a presentation for our peers, teaching them about the complex impact of poverty on women and families accessing maternity services. As we are students ourselves, our first thought was to avoid the dreaded ‘death-by-powerpoint’ and from this, the concept of 'Poverty Monopoly' was born. Poverty Monopoly allowed us to tackle many subjects quickly and interactively by replacing places on the board with places pertinent to a woman in poverty, for example, the ‘Old Kent Road’ became ‘The Pinard and Cock Inn’ which allowed us to explore the area of alcoholism and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. We also used props during our presentation and a ‘gift bag’ with various items in such as fruit, and a stone; we asked our peers to open their bags and reflect with us on why we might have included the items and what they might represent this lead to a reflective discussion at the end of the presentation which we felt helped consolidate their learning.
Fast forward six months and we are accepting our award as winners of the Andrew McKie Best Student Abstract award. We had thoroughly enjoyed presenting at the conference and we were pleased to have received such positive feedback following our presentation. We had learned so much over the two days that we could take into our practice from the use of mind mapping in learning environments to supporting survivors of child abuse in a maternity setting. We were very lucky to have had the opportunity to attend so many fascinating presentations and meet people from all over the world with similar mindsets on education and healthcare.
We all felt that it would have been a benefit to other students to have attended and would encourage other students to submit abstracts in the future.
We were fortunate to have had a lecturer that encouraged us to step outside of our comfort zones and move past the limits we placed on ourselves. Our message to lecturers would be to continue to push your students to embrace opportunities. As students, it is hard to see beyond our next assessment but having taken the opportunity and submitted the abstract we have achieved more than we could ever have thought we were capable of.