Three KILN Undergraduate Research Fellows (UGRF) from the CSON Class of 2015 presented their work at the September 2014 Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) Leadership Connection conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. Taylor Fischer, Patience Marks, and Savita Sukha represented Boston College as “rising stars” and took advantage of the opportunity to network with nurse leaders from around the world.
By Taylor Fischer
I am so blessed to have attended the Sigma Theta Tau International Leadership Connection conference on September 24-27 thanks to KILN and the Price Family Foundation. I gained valuable experience presenting the research I have done with my UGRF professor, Tam Nguyen, as well as attending the various presentations and break-out sessions that the conference offered. I met many inspiring individuals and felt absolutely empowered to be both a future nurse AND a leader. One of the best things about this conference was that they offered a ‘Career Center’ session where one could sign up to get career advice from a seasoned nursing leader. As a current nursing senior, I immediately signed up because I am torn about what to do after graduation. I am debating between applying to graduate programs, residency programs, or going straight into the workforce. Also, I am not sure whether I want to stay in Boston, or look elsewhere. So with all these uncertainties, I was paired with Dr. Joan Roache, an Associate Clinical Professor at UMASS-Amherst, who gladly listened to my career goals and aspirations and offered various suggestions on how to achieve them. She explained several processes of how nurses get their PhDs, DNPS, and masters and the different routes that one could take. She also gave me advice for which graduate school programs focused on certain research topics. For example, she told me that University of Pennsylvania’s PhD program does a lot of research on organizational systems, the broad scope of work flow processes, and improving patient outcomes from the top down. This was very intriguing to me because I have worked on efficiency and work flow in various hospital units so I could see myself pursuing this area of research if given the opportunity. Also, she encouraged me to go after my wildest dreams, because there should not be anything holding me back. To hear this nursing leader tell me that I have so much going for me, and that I have much to offer anywhere I will apply to, was both comforting and incredibly honoring. When I entered my appointment, I felt anxious and overwhelmed, but I left feeling renewed and excited to have so many possibilities in front of me!
By attending this conference, I am now confident in applying to all the places that my heart desires and pursuing my interests without fear of being too overzealous. Also, just being in the STTI atmosphere surrounded by such accomplished nurses really made me realize how lucky I am to be entering this profession. It is encouraging to know I have the opportunity to make a difference in my career but also as a person. I felt humbled that nursing leaders wanted to hear about the research I am currently doing at BC and that they regarded me as an equal: a person excited about research, leadership, and the dissemination of knowledge for the good of our profession. Furthermore, I felt at home because I was surrounded by people who are leaders pursuing their dreams and wanting to help others achieve their own, which is the best atmosphere one could ever wish for.
By Patience Marks
One of the most valuable and important things I learned from the Sigma Theta Tau International Leadership Connection conference was the information about adaptive leadership. The presenter spoke about what it means to be an adaptive leader, focusing on the essence of being able to change and deal with changes as a leader. This resonated with me the most because as a rising leader amongst my peers, I have experienced situations that were out of my control and beyond my ability to handle. However, with the concept of adaptive leadership, I have learned the importance of adapting to unexpected changes and seizing them as opportunities in order to succeed. Lastly, I learned the key concept of resilience from adaptive leadership, which is the ability to bounce back from difficult situations. I learned to “keep flying the plane despite the turbulence.”
By Savita Sukha
Attending the Sigma Theta Tau International’s Leadership Connection 2014 was one of the best experiences I have had during my undergraduate career. The conference was a huge growing experience for me as a future nursing professional because it provided new interpretations of what it means to be a nursing leader. For example, the “Models of Leadership: A Panel Discussion” provided a great overview of the different models of leadership. Karlene M. Kerfoot, PhD, RN, CNAA, FAAN described the Transformation Leadership style, which includes the belief that a leader should have the trust of followers and empower those followers by allowing them to work by themselves. Carolyn Miller, MS explained the K/P Leadership style, which describes a leader who is honest, inspiring, future-oriented, and credible. K/P leaders know what they stand for, match their actions with their values, inspire others, challenge the process and make improvements, build other people’s competencies, and recognize other people’s contributions. Marjorie A. Maurer, MSN, RN, NEA-BC described the Servant Leadership style which involves a leader who has the personal drive to serve others first. Kenneth W. Dion, PhD, MSN, MBA, RN described the Situational/Adaptive Leadership style which encourages leaders to live without predictability and focus less on routine and more on opportunity. Overall, the panel discussion augmented my understanding of various leadership styles and made me think about what kind of leader I want to be. I intend to embrace key characteristics of those leadership styles in my own practice.
My professional growth as a leader was further augmented by attending the presentation by Susan B. Jeska, RN, MBA, EdD, called “Building the Nurse Executive Pipeline.” As part of the presentation, she emphasized the challenges many nurses face, such as the lack of visibility to be considered full partners and the lack of consideration for important roles in advancing health. Hearing the presentation strengthened my determination to become a nursing leader and diminish the challenges nurses face. On a similar note, Jothi Clara Micheal, MScN, RN, RM, PhDN, MBA (HA) was particularly inspiring. When I received a chance to talk to Dr. Micheal in person during a break in presentations, she brought up a point that provoked my interest. She emphasized how nurses should aspire to become leaders, not nursing leaders. By this she means that nurses should strive to obtain a leadership role among different facets of healthcare and not only limit themselves to the field of nursing. Hearing this point from Dr. Micheal was very encouraging and changed my idea of what a nursing leader means. Overall, attending the conference made me feel empowered through the wonderful experience of presenting research, networking with inspiring nursing leaders, and learning more about the essence of being a true nursing leader.
by Siobhan Tellez
I am currently working as a nurse in general care pediatrics at Mott Children’s Hospital, a division of the University of Michigan Health System.
I started my RN job in November 2013 and now that I am approaching a year at my job, it is incredible to look back and appreciate all the things I have learned since nursing school. Professors, mentors, and peers always talked about the importance of time management. However, I have to admit that while I understood the basics of prioritizing and being efficient, I did not fully comprehend the significance until I had three or four patients on my own, and I was the one responsible for getting them through the day.
One of the biggest lessons I learned is to take every day during orientation one step at a time. When I graduated nursing school and passed the NCLEX, I felt very confident that my Boston College education would serve me well. It did, but not in the way I was anticipating. During those first few weeks of orientation, I felt as if I was learning everything for the first time. My brain was in overdrive during every shift, and I would come home completely exhausted. I got very anxious and nervous that I was “behind the curve” since everything felt so new. Yet my education in nursing school helped me piece together what I was learning and master the basic nursing skills. Now as I go through my day, I am able to stop focusing on the little tasks that once made me nervous and really put those critical thinking skills to good use.
I want you all to know that feeling nervous, anxious, and stressed is normal during those first few weeks at your first job, where even the “easy” tasks will feel hard or confusing because everything is so new. These feelings WILL pass with more experience and it is so rewarding when you suddenly realize you have been at your job for a few months and you finally know what you are doing! Nursing is a constantly changing profession and requires lifelong learning so do not be afraid to ask questions or ask for help.
Nina Wujech completed a five-day medical mission trip to Cameroon with the Michael and Mauritia Patcha Foundation this past summer. She has been seeking ways to contribute to the healthcare of Cameroonians and give back to her home country of Cameroon. We congratulate Nina on this stepping stone and we know there will be many more to come!
We would like to congratulate Yvonne Shih on being a recipient of the Minority Nurse Magazine Scholarship. We are proud of her and wish her the best as she enters into her senior year!
The KILN scholars and mentors celebrated the end of the academic year with an awards and recognition event on April 30, 2014. The Price Family Foundation representative, Joanne Duhl, was present at this event for the second consecutive time. Scholars and mentors were congratulated on their accomplishments and enthusiastic participation in KILN. To learn more about the award winners, click here.
In addition, Tiffany Clapp and Chenille Morrison, graduating KILN scholars, presented their experiences through KILN. Chenille has been a participant in KILN since the fall of 2010, and will graduate with her BS in nursing in May. She served as a freshman seminar leader for two years and as the vice president of the Massachusetts Student Nurses Association. Tiffany has been a member of KILN since 2012, and is completing the master’s entry into nursing program. She will sit for the certification exam to become a family nurse practitioner this summer and hopes to incorporate her clinical interest in genetics to her practice. Both speakers expressed their gratitude for the opportunities afforded them by the Price Family Foundation and reflected on their personal and professional journeys.
Cathy Read and Debra Pino presented the student and mentor awards, and Joanne spoke about the goals of Price Family Foundation and how the KILN program aligns with those goals. Cathy Read concluded the event by wishing the best of luck to students as they prepared for finals and to graduates as they enter the workforce or pursue a graduate degree.
This past May I had the privilege of attending the Northeast Regional Nurse Practitioner Conference in Manchester, NH. I am grateful to the Price Family Foundation and KILN for making this opportunity a reality. This three-day event was co-hosted by the New Hampshire Nurse Practitioner Association, Massachusetts Coalition of Nurse Practitioners (MCNP), and Boston College (BC) William F. Connell School of Nursing Continuing Education Program. It was great to see BC’s strong representation at this conference with many faculty members and students in attendance, and some even presenting.
Since the goal of the conference is to provide continuing nursing education that expands upon the basic education and experience of nurse practitioners (NPs), many of the lectures were specialized topics presented by an expert within the field. One that I found incredibly insightful was a lecture given by neurologist Maureen Hughes, MD on the topic of “Managing Headaches.” She thoroughly explored the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of migraines with many clinical pearls and funny anecdotes. As a new NP graduate, it was helpful to be reassured by a specialist that we, as primary care NPs, are well trained to take care of the patients she sees in her office. Additionally, she armed us with knowledge about the best and worst things we can do for these patients.
Richard Rothstein, MD, who was the keynote speaker, presented a fascinating update and analysis on weight, wellness, and obesity. Particularly surprising was learning about gastric bypass alternatives that are coming down the pipeline, such as inflatable balloons to minimize stomach space and pumping mechanisms to empty the stomach after each meal. This presentation, like many of the others at the conference, seemed very relevant to the current healthcare issues in New England.
Another highlight of the conference was the MCNP meeting held over lunch with more than 150 Massachusetts NPs. Not only was this a great opportunity to casually meet and talk with more seasoned nurses, but it was also an inspirational meeting with a presentation by MCNP President, Stephanie Ahmed. She delivered compelling arguments and rallied enthusiastic support from the crowd for the bills that are currently in the Massachusetts House and Senate. She reminded us of what an exciting time this is to be a nurse practitioner, and that we must all advocate for ourselves to practice to the full extent of our education and training. By the end of the lunch, there was a standing ovation in which we were all impassioned and united together in representing this wonderful profession.
This lunch certainly set the mood for the remainder of the conference. Throughout the following lectures and sessions, I felt incredibly connected to and supported by this group of NPs. Even though at times there were hundreds in a room, I felt connected because we were all present to learn together, advance our skills, find ways to better care for our patients, and be reminded that we should always strive to be better. This conference really made me proud to be a part of this profession, and introduced me to a supportive network of NPs that are excited to mentor those who are less experienced. I would highly recommend this conference to others who wish to learn more about primary care topics, be inspired by leaders in the profession, and feel a sense of community amongst New England NPs.