NSNA Annual Convention 2009 - Day 2
Day 2 is really day one, I like to arrive at these things a day early and leave a day late. You know, just in case.
First up was a couple of presentations on Breakthrough to Nursing and Legislation/Education. BtN sported the only familiar face so far, a friend I made at the last convention in Texas, a former member of the Kansas SNA, now a presenter. The BtN and L/E focus groups had a lot in common, the Big Issues are still the Big Issues no matter which lens you're viewing it through. How do we recruit more nurses? How do we recruit nurses that reflect the diversity of our country that speaks more than 300 languages? How do nurses take control of their own practice and advocate for better health in our communities? These were familiar quandaries to me and renewed my enthusiasm for getting involved in the professional nursing associations. I had to laugh for a second when I remembered that I thought this same thing last year, and resolved to drop a line to my state's chapter of the ANA to get in touch with their government relations committee.
After this I swung through the house of delegates, and remembered how laborious I found the opening meeting. I carefully avoided the roll-call where all the states put on their cutesy cheerleading displays, and dropped in just long enough to listen to the parliamentarian go over the basics of parliamentary procedure (something I imagine I'll be explaining to people again later). Part of me was glad I didn't have to sit through the mandatory boredom, but another part missed being involved with the house of delegates, and I know I'll be grinding my teeth when I'll have to sit out the opportunity to tear apart arguments like I did in years past.
Next up was a small collection of graduate nursing schools organized by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. I swung through and chatted with some of the schools' representatives and found that a few of them talked a pretty good game. Right off the bat I explained that I was interested in getting a graduate degree but my personality resisted the idea of "specializing" in something. A rep from Buffalo (Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo) told me it sounded like Clinical Nurse Specialist was the right degree for me. I did a double-take and pointed out that "Specialist" was right in the title. He corrected himself and told me there's a relatively new major called "Clinical Nurse Leader" that is basically an advanced bedside nurse generalist. Perfect! For years nurses have told me that it's too hard to generalize in the nursing profession and that it's better to specialize. I'm of a kind that believes that "specialization is for insects" and generalization is the way to go. After talking to some of the other schools there I found that not only could I get a graduate degree in Clinical Nursing Leadership, I could take a few classes and become a Nurse Practitioner afterward (once I passed the NCLEX-NP) without doing the whole degree over. The most enticing offers came from Rush in Chicago and Rochester in NY, since they both explained that I could do all this for free if I worked at their hospital. I'll have to ask around CT for a comparative deal.
The keynote address was the next stop. They picked a hell of a speaker, Rear Admiral Carol A. Romano, PhD, RN, FAAN, Assistant Surgeon General, Chief Nurse officer of the US Public Health Service. I actually met her once in the past, and she put the idea in my head to join the Public Health Service years ago. Very inspiring speaker. As I write this the video of her keynote address is still uploading so I'll append it to this post later. The Opening remarks were made by Rebecca Patton, MSN, RN, CNOR, President of the American Nurses Association; and M. Elaine Tagliareni, EdD, RN, President of the National League for Nursing (they went all out, eh?). It was a struggle to sit through all the glad-handing and gratuitous award presentations, but hearing Admiral Romano speak for 24 minutes or so was well worth it. I sadly didn't have enough camera storage left to get the tail end of her speech but what I did get was pretty good. Below is the NLN and ANA president's greetings.
After the keynote there was a reception put on by the Army Nurse Corps, they give out an award every year to the most excellent student and host a reception afterward that doubles as a recruitment drive. I was hoping for ice cream, but none was to be found. (Video and hilarious story pending)
The performer is apparently Sergeant First Class Jamie Buckley of the USAREC Entertainment Team. As a musician, I was offended that he pantomimed playing a guitar instead of actually playing one. Deeply offended.
Today reminded me why I came here in the first place. Inspiration. Direction. Goals. All that good stuff. There's important things happening, and I'm one of many (but still tragically few) new nurses with skills from other fields that will revitalize and recontextualize the nursing profession. Now nurses have previous experience with marketing, business, sociology, computer science, construction, you name it. We're used to finding problems and solving them within our lifetimes. Within a business cycle. If there truly are solutions to our healthcare crisis, we have a major role to play.
(And then of course the nightclub)