This past month, I had the privilege of attending the International Society of Nurses in Genetics (ISONG) conference in Bethesda, Maryland. This opportunity was made possible by funding from KILN and Associate Dean Catherine Read, who introduced me to ISONG and motivated me to attend. It was the organization’s 25th anniversary, so what a perfect time to be there to learn about its history and the exciting future that lies ahead. Although the untimely government shutdown led to the cancellation of presentations by National Institutes of Health researchers, it was still a wonderful conference full of nurses passionate about this relatively new frontier of genetics.
All the things I learned at this conference would take many hours to recount, but some of the highlights looking into the next 25 years are:
- Next generation sequencing – It is going to change our world. Companies will be able to spell out the precise order of DNA in multiple genes, and pretty soon the whole genome, for less than $1,000.
- Personalized medicine – By understanding the individual molecular characteristics of patients, we will be able to offer medications and treatments personalized for each patient.
- Improved taxonomy of disease – Using phenotypes, we will be able to better classify and define subtypes of obesity, diabetes, and other generalized illnesses.
- Epigenetics – A better understanding of how the environment and lifestyle choices affect our genes will change the way we think about health and disease.
Along with these groundbreaking interventions and diagnostic tools, I discovered that there will be many challenges for nurses and nurse practitioners yet they will be indispensable to the application of these tools. For starters, nurses will be called upon to help patients understand what all of this genetic information means to them, and how they can use it to make decisions. A large challenge for nurse practitioners will be moving this science into application within primary care, because it is of little benefit if it remains only at the bench. Situations like this made me realize why nurses are needed within this specialty. When sharing information as sensitive and complicated as genetics, the hallmarks of nursing- humanism and compassion- are invaluable.
In addition to all the knowledge gained at this conference, I met others working in the field, and heard their insights and advice on getting started as an NP. One of the most fortuitous connections I made was with Margaret Klehm, an NP currently working at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Throughout the conference, she shared her more than 20 years of experience working in metabolic and cancer genetics in several of the Boston hospitals. Her message was inspirational- to go out and create the dream job that you seek, and you will find the help you need along the way if you are passionate and genuinely interested. Given my experience, I definitely recommend other KILN students to take advantage of the many different conferences out there. Engaging socially and intellectually with people who share your interests is priceless. I am appreciative to KILN for the opportunity to feel the excitement and passion for genetics in nursing.
Yesenia Japa (CSON ’14), Andrea Lopez (CSON ’14), and Alexandra Paz (CSON ’15) attended the August 2013 National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) Conference in New Orleans. NAHN “is a non-profit professional association committed to the promotion of the professionalism and dedication of Hispanic nurses by providing equal access to educational, professional, and economic opportunities for Hispanic nurses.” The three KILN Scholars participated in professional presentations, gained leadership skills, and volunteered in a one day event to help the Stop Hunger Now organization. They also presented a poster entitled “Keys to Inclusive Leadership in Nursing” Preparing the Next Generation of Diverse Nurse Leaders with Dr. Viola Benavente, Assistant Professor in the Connell School of Nursing and KILN mentor.
As the students reflected on their experiences, they realized the conference affected them in various ways. Alexandra Paz felt like a changed person after attending the conference. She explains: “The speakers and nurses I met encouraged me to focus on becoming the best nurse I can possibly be. I am motivated to fulfill my full potential not only as a nurse but also as a person.” She also learned how the enhanced Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services, issued by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, can be applied in health care delivery systems, as well as how the Health Insurance Marketplace, an application initiated by the Affordable Care Act, will function to provide affordable coverage to individuals and families. For Yesenia, the conference provided opportunities to strengthen her relationships with and find inspiration from NAHN members, especially those she met at last year’s conference. She found the story from Henry Cruz, endnote speaker, to be particularly touching. He lost his sight due to diabetic retinopathy upon graduating from college. However, he faced this adversity and became a diabetes advocate and healthcare consultant. Yesenia noted that, “When he revealed he works with people from St. Mary’s in the Bronx, the same dangerous neighborhood I have been raised in, he really touched my heart. Dedication and warmth are two things that are not as easy to find in my neighborhood, and at that moment I appreciated him very much.” The presentations helped Andrea Lopez understand the implications of the Affordable Care Act for nurses and for the Hispanic community. At the same time, the speakers reinforced Andrea’s goal of pursuing further education to become a nurse practitioner. Along with the other students, she felt enthused: “As a nursing student, conferences like this one can change your future by allowing you to share experiences and receive encouragement from others. I’ve been motivated to move quickly, improvise, and seize opportunities.”
Denice Calub (CSON ’14), Cindy Cao (CSON ’14), Yesenia Japa (CSON ’14) and Andrea Lopez (CSON ’14) of the CSON Keys to Inclusive Leadership in Nursing (KILN) program were among the fifteen nursing students from across the United States to be awarded a Hausman Fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital in the summer of 2013. This six-week program paired the fellows with nurse mentors who provide clinical, practical and social experiences. The Hausman Fellowship, originally funded by Margaretta Hausman, a social worker and former MGH patient, was founded in 2007 to empower minority nursing students to achieve their career goals and promote better care for diverse patient populations.
The experience was transformative for the students. For Denice Calub, the Hausman fellowship experience provided insight into the particular challenges of patients from minority backgrounds, especially when English is not their first language. “I was able to experience firsthand the importance of things that are emphasized in our classes, such as understanding diversity and practicing with empathy.” Gaining confidence with skills and establishing relationships with mentors were goals for Cindy Cao, but she found that she achieved much more; “I learned that nursing can be a very personalized art and I gained awareness into the type of nurse I want to be.” Yesenia Japa appreciated the opportunity to rotate though several departments, which familiarized her with the hospital as a whole: “I grasped a better understanding of what it means to be a nurse and became more comfortable in my assessments, documentation and medication administration…the experience strengthened my belief that this is what I want to do every day.” Andrea Lopez noted that, in addition to helping students gain confidence and independence, the professionals involved in the Hausman program “understand the reality and struggle of minority nursing students…the program helped me to think outside of my own familiar cultural experience to appreciate the diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds of our patients.”
The Hausman program is spearheaded by Deborah Washington (MS ‘93, PhD ‘12 ), Director of Diversity for Patient Care Services at Massachusetts General Hospital and member of the CSON Diversity Advisory Board.
Three KILN Scholars, Patience Marks (CSON ’15), Diana Paris (CSON ’13), and Malika Weekes (CSON ’13) participated in the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) 41st Annual Conference in New Orleans. The mission of the NBNA is to “represent and provide a forum for black nurses to advocate for and implement strategies to ensure access to the highest quality of healthcare for persons of color.” This year’s conference theme was “Advancing the Profession of Nursing through Education, Practice, Research, and Leadership”. Scholars had the opportunity to network with nurse leaders and learn about a variety of healthcare topics. Below are some thoughts from the scholars.
Gaining New Knowledge
The opportunities to learn something new at this conference were endless. I now understand the pivotal role advanced practice registered nurses will hold once the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, the barriers to minority faculty representation in nursing schools, the different levels of trauma centers, and the health effects of electrical wiring in our homes.
- Malika Weekes, BS, RN
I attended the Cardiovascular Institute and the Mental Health Workshop. The Cardiovascular Institute discussed important topics including the importance of nursing expertise in cardiovascular care to help prevent readmissions, developing preventive measures and interventions in the young population to help reduce the incidence of coronary heart disease in African Americans, and heart failure treatment disparities. The Mental Health Workshop discussed vital issues including the effects of stalking and cyber stalking on mental health, the influence of anxiety and stress on African American Women’s Health, and current mental health research on African American males.
- Diana Paris, MS, RN, FNP
Opportunities to Engage in Dialogue and Build Relationships
Attending this conference provided me a foundation for success and challenged me to think outside the box. I was fortunate to attend the NBNA conference because I had the opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue with seasoned professionals and enhance my knowledge to be thoroughly prepared to respond to the vast needs in primary care, particularly in underserved communities.
- Diana Paris, MS, RN, FNP
I was asked to participate in a group study for a research project focusing on black students’ experiences and mentoring needs in nursing programs. The purpose of the research is to possibly implement a mentoring program between NBNA leaders and students. I not only valued the purpose of this research but enjoyed meeting other striving nursing students at the conference. I managed to get to know them better and initiated a relationship with them; one of which I feel will hold a positive impact on my nursing career. Additionally, being included in this study helped me to appreciate the efforts of the KILN program inclusion of mentors.
- Patience Marks
Each experience on the schedule, from the opening ceremony to the career and education fair to the ecumenical service, provided opportunities for black nurses and nursing students from across the country to network and encourage one another’s professional lives.
- Malika Weekes, BS, RN
Application to Healthcare Delivery
“People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” Colonel Patricia W. Ross stated. I perceived that she meant that we need to put the knowledge and proper nursing care we learn into action. We need to value each patient and handle each one with care, openness, and respect. Taking that extra time to holistically oversee the patient and his or her plan of care goes a long way in eliminating a health disparity.
- Patience Marks
NBNA President Deidre Walton, JD, MSN, RN-PHN highlighted the need for APRNs to be active in their state legislatures to reform the scope-of-practice regulations to allow NPs to practice independently to the fullest extent of their education and training, including unlimited prescriptive authority. Personally, this message fueled my desire to dedicate my career to transforming the delivery of health care by assuming different leadership roles. In these roles, I will use the invaluable lessons from the NBNA conference, my clinical experiences, and research to help transform healthcare policy as a long-term career goal.
- Diana Paris, MS, RN, FNP
From June 24th through 26th, I had the privilege of attending the Nurse Practitioner Associates for Continuing Education (NPACE) Primary Care Conference thanks to funding from the KILN scholarship. This provided Boston College KILN scholars like me, the opportunity to participate in a professional conference, gain leadership skills, and an invaluable learning experience. NPACE is a local non-profit organization founded by nurse practitioners (NPs) in 1980 and is known for providing practical, relevant information for continuing education (CE) to nurse practitioners. The purpose of this primary care conference was to “increase knowledge and skills and implement practice changes based on best-available evidence for addressing the challenges of providing primary care across the lifespan.” I personally thought it was important as a new graduate to see the current clinical information being utilized by experienced providers in practice and was very surprised at how much I learned over three days in a hotel ballroom.
The first day opened up with a keynote address from the President of the Massachusetts Coalition of Nurse Practitioners, Stephanie Ahmed, DNP, who reminded us about the history of nurse practitioners (where we came from and how our profession developed) and inspired us to continue striving towards the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations to engage nurses as critical players in the future of healthcare (where we are going and to be part of the change).
From my perspective as a newly graduated NP, this information was not new but it did make me realize that I was looking at the first presentation with a critical eye. Because our nursing school emphasized knowledge on the multiple facets of being a professional nurse, it was comforting to know that my education was relevant. We have been empowered to be active participants in professional organizations as well as policy and I was starting to see how I could apply this as a full-fledged NP. When everyone stood up at the end of Dr. Ahmed’s presentation, I felt very much a part of the group of NPs who would play a big role in healthcare’s future.
After the uplifting address, we jumped right in to the clinical material over the next three days, which included 15 topics from asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to contraception and diabetes. There were a few lectures I found most interesting. One provided useful ideas to address patient intimacy concerns. Another came from vitamin D expert, Michael Holick, PhD, MD, who gave an animated talk on the alarming number of people with vitamin D deficiency and the associations with many health benefits from supplementation.
In addition, there were two optional non-CE meal programs, which featured branded products for dyspareunia and allergic rhinitis. On the second and third days, various vendors had booths in the lobby for companies like CVS Minute Clinic, Harvard Vanguard, and Arbonne. There were representatives from job staffing groups, textbook publishers, and pharmaceutical companies. Throughout this trip, I spoke to my colleagues, the vendors, and the lecturers. I recommend any KILN student or graduating nursing student to attend this type of conference because of the multiple opportunities for learning and networking. This particular conference took place at the Sea Crest Beach Hotel, which provided a beautiful location and tranquil atmosphere. Because of the back-to-back lectures, I had to make an effort to squeeze in time to speak to attendees during the day and during our downtime at dinner or by the pool. Although I was one of maybe two students/new graduates there, it was nice to meet experienced NPs and even get advice from each of them. It is a bonus to learn about job opportunities and get inspired by successful leaders who are all around you.
The KILN staff would like to congratulate the following students on their accomplishments:
Terry Bustos received the Mary Pekarski Memorial Award, which is awarded to a Sigma Theta Tau member who exemplifies excellence in nursing.
Stephanie Mui was given the Spirit of Sigma Award. The recipient of this award is a member who displays evidence of contributions to improving care in the academic and/or community setting through the following attributes: leadership, dedication, respect, collaboration, imagination, humor, intuition, creativity, collegiality, and compassion.
Sandra Dickson was a nominee for the Rev. Edward H. Finnegan, SJ, Award
Several graduating KILN students were recognized for leadership and volunteerism at the 2013 commencement:
We are also happy to announce that three KILN alumni have gotten accepted into graduate school:
Morine Cebert – Yale University Masters of Science in Nursing Management, Policy and Leadership Program
Jessica Fenty-Scotland – Northeastern University School of Nursing Nurse Practitioner Program
Siobhan Tellez – University of Michigan School of Nursing Nurse Midwife and Family Nurse Practitioner
Paulina Miklosz and Diana Paris, who graduated this year from the Boston College Family Nurse Practitioner Program this May, got accepted to The Community Health Center, Inc. residency program in Connecticut.
Denice Calub, Cindy Cao, Yesenia Japa, and Andrea Lopez will be part of the MGH’s Hausman Nursing Fellowship Program this summer.
In addition, we would like to congratulate all of the KILN seniors and master’s students who graduated this past Monday:
Jie Wen Lei
In May, I had the privilege of attending the 20th annual Northeast Regional Nurse Practitioner Conference. This conference is sponsored by the Massachusetts Coalition of Nurse Practitioners (MCNP), the New Hampshire Nurse Practitioner Association (NHNPA) and the Boston College William F. Connell School of Nursing Continuing Education Program. It was established in 1992 to provide continuing nursing education to nurse practitioners (NPs) in order to maintain professional and clinical expertise in advanced practice nursing (APN) care.
Thursday morning began with keynote speaker, Karen Daleyk, the president of the American Nurses Association (ANA). Her presentation discussed the affordable care act, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on the future of nursing, and how these documents and the ANA are calling for nursing to become a more dominant force in reshaping U.S. health care. The first lecture I attended was given by Dr. Annekathryn Goodman, who presented an update on the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) including testing, vaccination and the new cervical cancer screening guidelines. She addressed the subtypes of the virus, geographical variations and issues with pediatric, male, and college health populations. The second lecture of the day was presented by advanced practice nurse, Holly Buckley, on the topic of caring for women during menopause. I learned the current best practices for addressing estrogen related changes of menopausal women including evidence based diagnostic and preventative measures for this growing population. During lunch, the MCNP meeting informed me of how this group supports, advocates, and represents NPs in Massachusetts. The MCNP is a unique organization designed to support all NPs in Massachusetts regardless of specialty or organizational affiliation. Additionally, relevant issues and current public policy effecting NPs, including removing barriers to practice, were discussed. I enjoyed participating in this luncheon and seeing a diverse collection of nursing leaders from various specialties unified by their desire to create a vision for the future of nursing in America. After lunch, Dr. Harold Rosen gave one of my favorite talks of the conference. He discussed the most recent evaluation, diagnosis, treatment options and therapy durations for osteoporosis. In particular, he addressed the appropriate times to order bone density scans. I was very impressed overall with my first day of the conference and was already looking forward to day 2!
On Friday, I listened to Dr. George Lantz discuss back pain management in primary care. He described how to evaluate back pain, the various treatments and when to refer. Next, Dr. Heidi Hallonquest, spoke about diagnosing and treating vulvodynia. As a student in the women’s health specialty, I thoroughly enjoyed this talk. Many general providers are not familiar with the terminology, but vulvodynia is a condition characterized by intermittent or constant pain, burning, itching, and irritation. Another presentation was given by nurse practitioner, Kathryn Hall, who addressed different kinds of headaches, including: migraine, cluster, tension, and sinus. She reviewed diagnosis, treatment and prevention approaches to care for these patients. Dr. Ann Cabot presented the last lecture I attended at the conference. She talked about updated information regarding multiple sclerosis. She stressed that early diagnosis can lead to improved quality of life for women and believed that it is important for primary care providers to recognize the early signs and symptoms. She described treatments including physical therapy, pharmaceuticals, and the importance of lifestyle adaptation.
Overall, the conference was a wonderful experience. I felt very privileged to meet so many impressive nursing leaders and to be able to network among hundreds of successful practitioners. The fact that all different specialties were represented really added to lecture discussions and provided diverse perspectives on best nursing practice. The conference also offered a variety of lecture topics that would appeal to different specialties and helped inform APNs on topics not encountered frequently or provided updated guidelines on clinical cases commonly seen. I found the lectures very interesting and informative, as well as an effective method to help NPs to stay up to date on the most current practices and treatments. The MCNP luncheon was also a good way to stay up to date on the politics effecting NPs and current actions being taken on both the state and national levels regarding APN practice. I would highly recommend that future NP students attend this conference!