This year I attended my third consecutive International Conference on Eating Disorders (ICED). Although many aspects of the conference are the same from year to year, the experience has changed for me over time as I have been able to gain new insights and knowledge every time I go. This year, I felt like a seasoned conference attendee… not only because the event was held in my home-base, Boston, but also because I was familiar with the process and now know many of the people who regularly attend. I think the two major draws of attending conferences are the discovery and dissemination of knowledge as well as the networking aspect.
My favorite presentation was about utilizing short-term group family treatment for patients with anorexia nervosa. This particular therapy consisted of a few weeks of intense treatment that included education, multidisciplinary therapy, meal coaching, individual counseling and continued care planning. Family therapy has been the gold standard of care for patients with eating disorders, especially in adolescent and young adults, for a number of years. However, there is less research about the use of group therapy, let alone group family therapy. From my experience working on a number of eating disorder units, patients have mixed thoughts about group treatment. For some patients, being in a group setting can be a trigger to cause them to compare themselves harshly against others. On the other hand, a number of patients cherish group therapy and end up finding support from other members. In my opinion, parents often find groups extremely helpful because they are able to relate to others going through similar experiences. From the perspective of a nurse and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, group family therapy allows many people to receive treatment simultaneously and allows the members to learn from and help each other. The researchers from the University of California Eating Disorder Center found promising results in a relatively short period of time by using this form of group family therapy. Although more research is needed, so far it seems this is an effective version of evidenced based family therapy that can be useful in the clinical setting.
Another benefit of attending this conference was being able to network with other people in my field. I caught up with my friends from Africa, Australia and all over the United States, including Florida and California. Since I graduated this year, the ICED conference was also an opportunity to meet people from facilities that I could potentially work at. During the “exhibition” portion of the conference, sponsors including a number of eating disorder centers from around the world, set up booths with information about their sites. I met with individuals from Walden Behavioral Care, Monte Nido and Newton Wellesley Eating Disorder Center. I have since been in touch with two of these facilities about potential job opportunities! I think that being face to face with these organizations gave me the upper hand in finding a job. For example, I was able to mention in my cover letters that I spoke with the owners and CEO’s of the facilities I applied to. I’m excited to see where these opportunities lead and definitely think that attending this conference is helping me in this search.
The KILN scholars and mentors celebrated the end of the academic year with the third annual awards and recognition celebration on April 29, 2015. Scholars and mentors got together one more time to connect with each other and recognize many accomplishments. Several scholars and mentors received special awards; read more about the award winners.
Taylor Fischer, Julie Dunne and Patience Marks, graduating KILN scholars, spoke about their leadership experiences at Boston College. Taylor has been a participant in KILN since 2011, and graduated with her BS in nursing this May. She served as an undergraduate research fellow for two years and was the co- president of Project Sunshine and a member of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Julie was a KILN scholar in 2012 and returned to the program this year. She received her MS in May and will sit for the certification exam as a Psych-Mental health advanced practice nurse while she continues to fulfill the requirements for the PhD. Patience, who was the recipient of the KILN Key award and the prestigious Martin Luther King scholarship last spring, received her BS in May. She also served as a peer freshmen seminar leader and an undergraduate research fellow. The speakers also expressed their gratitude for the opportunities afforded them by the Price Family Foundation.
Cathy Read and Debra Pino Betancourt presented the student and mentor awards. 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.
On April 7, 2015, Laura Mata and I arrived at the Valley of the Sun for the 63rd Annual National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA) Convention. Phoenix, AZ was a great location to meet and greet nursing students and leaders from all over the country. The convention’s theme was “Bright Horizons: Rising to New Opportunities.” Within the next three days, I attended the opening ceremony and participated in delegate resolution hearings, multiple focus sessions, workshops, and the exhibition hall. All activities echoed the importance of bettering nursing’s future by empowering today’s nursing students.
During the Wednesday opening ceremony, there were many speakers from professional organizations who inspired thousands of nursing students to make a change in healthcare. Before the opening ceremony commenced, students and their faculty mentors quickly filled up a large ballroom at the Phoenix Convention Center and flooded the room with energy. Among the list of professional organizations that supported the NSNA Convention were Johnson & Johnson, UCLA Health, Nurses Service Organization, and American Nurses Association. All these organizations said a few words of encouragement to the students and reminded us that we made the best decision of our lives when we chose nursing as a career. At the end of the ceremony, the keynote speaker Gerri Lamb, PhD, RN, FAAN had the honor to say the final words of the night. As an associate professor at the Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions, Dr. Lamb guided us through her career trajectory and involvement in improving patient care coordination for the past three decades. After hearing her keynote address, I felt reaffirmed in my passion for reforming the United States healthcare delivery system. Although I am still trying to figure out how to put all the pieces together, I could picture myself as a nurse who works with an interdisciplinary team to improve the healthcare system. Dr. Lamb explained to the audience that our generation has been gifted with an opportunity to contribute to the healthcare delivery system. Due to recent implementation of the Affordable Care Act by President Barack Obama, nurses are handed the opportunity to promote primary prevention measures and contribute to good patient outcomes.
During the last two days of the convention, I was on my way to achieving bright horizons. I attended the NCLEX Review to prepare for the national nursing board examination. I also went to a focus session titled “Career Fitness—Landing Your Right Job in the Current Market” and the exhibition hall in which I met up with graduate nursing school representatives from John Hopkins and University of Pennsylvania to name a few. The combination of these programs at the NSNA convention allowed me to lay down the foundation for a future career in nursing education or health care administration. My experience at the NSNA Convention proved the benefits of maintaining an active membership in a professional organization. As a national organization, NSNA was able to bring in top vendors and resources across the United States, successfully providing its student members with a well-rounded and informative experience each year.
by James Nicholson
Recently I spent two days in Charleston at a Nurse Practitioner Associates for Continuing Education (NPACE) conference on pharmacology. The conference was a great opportunity for me to network, speak with industry vendors, and review pharmacology relevant to primary care before taking my nurse practitioner (NP) boards this summer. The topics that the speakers covered included: hypertension/lipid disorders, asthma/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), thyroid and hypogonadism, diabetes mellitus, birth control, sexually transmitted infections, menopause, vaginitis, and geriatric pharmacology. All of the speakers were engaging and leaders in their fields of specialty as evidenced by their research, publishing, experience, and extensive education.
Speaker Karen Dick, GNP-BC, who works at Hebrew Senior Life in Boston, provided a much-needed emphasis on the importance of medication reconciliation and review, especially in the older population. Her focus on safe use of selective serotonin receptor inhibitors with the elderly, along with patient anecdotes, was useful in considering the pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of drugs within this population as well as the importance of screening for depression. Speaker Sally K. Miller, FNP-BC, provided some great insight into managing COPD and asthma in a primary care setting. Of particular interest to me, she reviewed the indications for treatment and diagnosis, as well as the usefulness of performing FEV1 and FVC tests in the office, which I learned is underutilized in primary care. However, as with many chronic illnesses, the treatment for these also relies on a good history and assessment of subjective symptoms from the patient.
Throughout the conference I sat next to NPs from various states in varying specialties. Many had been in the nursing industry for decades, but were also interested to hear from me about the environment for new grads in Boston. All were encouraging to me, even despite the perceived stigma of completing a direct entry program without any real nursing experience. By chance I also bumped into an old friend from Washington D.C. who is an NP and one of the many who inspired me to pursue this career.
The conference was a great way to begin my career as I finish up BC’s family NP program. I have gotten a first-hand look at the benefits of continuing education, the huge potential for networking, and above all a better understanding on where leaders in the field go to share their knowledge and research. The speakers had taken different paths but all had education and research in common. This will most certainly be the first of many more NPACE conferences to come.
On March 26, 2015 KILN scholars, Habin Cho ‘ 16, Hana Chung ‘17, Taylor Fischer ’15, Tammy Leung ’15, and Lourdes Talavera ’16, attended the Asian American Pacific Islander Nurses Association (AAPINA) twelfth annual conference in Las Vegas, NV. Taylor and Lourdes also presented posters about the research they conducted with Dr. Tam Nguyen. The conference rejuvenated the students’ desire to continue being part of the nursing profession and provided an environment to network with nurse leaders across the nation. Below are some reflections from the students:
In the keynote presentation, “Self-Management of Chronic Conditions: State of the Science in Dissemination and Implementation,” Usha Menon, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor at Ohio State University College of Nursing, discussed factors that threaten health and wellness: low health literacy, infrequent medical visits, language and cultural barriers, lack of health insurance, and lack of focus on preventive care. These factors are prevalent among minority populations, including the AAPI community. I learned that cancer is the leading cause of death for Asian-American females because of late diagnosis; this population is less likely to undergo breast cancer screening. I have become aware of the importance of health promotion and preventive care to ensure that this population can maintain a healthy life.
During the poster session, I was drawn to a presentation by Jin Young Seo, RN, WHNP, MSN, PhD candidate at University at Buffalo School of Nursing, which highlighted Korean immigrant women’s healthcare utilization. In her review process, Jin Young focused on individual determinants of healthcare utilization, which excluded environmental characteristics. Some of the significant variables in determining whether Korean women go to hospitals for care included gender, marital status, knowledge of the screening guidelines, perceived susceptibility, and education. There were also enabling factors, such as having health insurance, a primary doctor, and speaking English proficiently. By learning about the characteristics of these individual determinants, I was intrigued by the similarities I found between Jin Young’s literature review and my own knowledge of Korean culture.
I presented two different posters designed in collaboration with my undergraduate research mentor, Dr. Tam Nguyen: “Prevalence of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus in Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders” and “A Systematic Review of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Prevention and Management Interventions for Asian American and Pacific Islanders.” This was my first time fully designing a research poster and presenting; and it was a great experience. Not only did I get to see my ideas come to fruition, but I also got to disseminate research and have meaningful dialogue with some of the people whose research I had reviewed! Although I thoroughly researched my topics, I was still unprepared for some of the questions I received. It really made me think on my feet and see the research in a different light.
In addition to the need to participate in nursing boards and committees for change, this conference also inspired me to conduct research on minorities, especially Asians. It was interesting to learn that in research, there is rarely a delineation of the various Asian subgroups. Even though there are many subgroups, it is common for researchers to consolidate all these different cultures into one. For those unfamiliar with the different types of Asians, it is easy to conduct research on one type of Asian and have them represent the entire Asian population. As a Chinese American, I know that the Vietnamese are really different from the Chinese, as we are really different from the Filipinos, Koreans, Japanese, etc. The list continues because even within the Chinese, there are many villages with their own cultural practices that affect their health practices. To have one represent all is simply a misrepresentation of data. It was also helpful to know that these presenters faced challenges to conducting research on minorities, especially immigrants, and I was able to connect this to my own research with Dr. Carina Katigbak, RN, PhD, on smoking cessation in Chinese immigrants. I conducted a literature review on the barriers to recruitment and retention of Chinese immigrants as research participants, and the presenters at the conference also discussed similar barriers of decreased knowledge on the definition and purpose of research, lack of education, and conflicting commitments.
I was able to discuss the research I have done with Dr. Tam Nguyen on the prevalence of gestational diabetes mellitus in Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with other nurse leaders. Besides gaining experience in presenting research, we also received recommendations about journals to which we could submit a related manuscript. The conference and the experience of presenting are helping me shape my thoughts of the research process.
All the students expressed their gratitude to the Price Family Foundation for funding that allowed them to expand their horizons on important issues as they develop into the nurse leaders of the future.
On Friday, March 27th we had the pleasure of hosting KILN alumni returning to the Boston College campus for a panel presentation for current students. Our alumni not only represented diversity in graduation years, from 2011 through 2014, but also in career experiences as RN’s since leaving Boston College. Cassandra Hernandez ’14 and Malika Weekes ’13 (Boston Children’s Hospital), Jessica Fenty-Scotland ’11 (Brigham and Women’s Hospital), Sabianca Delva ’12 (Massachusetts General Hospital), Jennifer Etienne ’12 (New England Rehabilitation Hospital), Bria Mazige ’14 (Salem Hospital), and Andrea Lopez ’14 (South End Community Health Care Center) introduced themselves and described their current nursing positions.
Panelists talked about transitioning from college student to full-time nurse, preparing for and taking the NCLEX, and handling challenges in the job search process. Student attendees asked provocative questions about how to succeed in school and how to stay focused and positive. The panelists gave practical advice and recounted stories that reaffirmed their own choices of nursing as a career. For example, one panelist told a story of shaving the beard of a man in a long-term care situation due to an accident. His eyes filled with tears when he looked in the mirror; he told the nurse how much it meant to him to be able to see his own face after so many months. For the nurse, whose job involves mastery of scientific principles, a high degree of technical skill, expertise in interpersonal communication, and a great deal of patience and organization, those kinds of tasks may seem relatively unimportant. However, for a patient whose entire life revolves around what happens in the hospital, such “routine” activities may be monumental. The panelists agreed that job satisfaction often comes from momentary personal interactions with patients and families and encouraged the students to embrace those opportunities
After the presentation, attendees had the opportunity to network with the panelists and get information about specific agencies, specialties, and interests. The KILN program is grateful for the panelists’ willingness to provide support to CSON students, and we look forward to more events with our growing alumni network.
KILN scholars, Chiamaka Okorie and Nina Wujech, attended the Unite for Sight Global Health and Innovation Conference (GHIC) held at Yale University during March 28-29, 2015. Chiamaka and Nina shared their experiences and thoughts of the conference:
By Chiamaka Okorie, CSON ‘17
I enjoyed a virtual travel experience to Ghana, Togo, Rwanda, Nigeria, Armenia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Haiti through the “Unite for Sight Global Health and Innovation Conference.” The beauty of global health is its ability to unite people from all backgrounds, so I was able to learn about current obstacles and diseases from technological, anthropological, economic, and scientific points of views.
Three speakers especially changed and challenged my understanding of global health. The first was Joia Mukherjee, Chief Medical Officer of Partners in Health, who was a keynote speaker. She stressed the unappreciated concept that prevention alone is not enough and our obligation is to strengthen the delivery of medical care in order to ensure healthcare as a right. I was particularly moved by her parallel of the HIV/AIDS movement to the march on Selma and her belief in unity as the fuel of change. Another keynote speaker, Aron Rose, MD, who is an associate clinical professor at Yale University School of Medicine and School of Nursing, spoke about the gratification and hazards of volunteer service abroad, which was particularly relevant to me. He was very realistic about the damage volunteers could do to their host community or their mental strength, despite their best intentions. He did not say this to discourage service abroad, but to advise volunteers about receiving true meaning from their experience. He beautifully explained that international service is a relentless mirror of self and for one to discern his/her sense of purpose, one must continuously cultivate humility.
Finally, I participated in a pediatric care interactive workshop by Hema Magge, Director of Pediatrics, Partners in Health/Rwanda. She shared Partners in Health’s efforts to reduce neonatal mortality in Rwanda then asked the audience to develop a care plan. My group was tasked with creating an evaluation system. Just the first step of deciding what to evaluate led to a long list of questions ranging from “Does the hospital have sufficient equipment?” to “How acceptable is this program to the local community”? This was a great hands-on exercise that helped me view a real situation through the critical lens of a global health worker and imagine how I would respond.
I truly enjoyed the opportunity to attend an event dedicated to a single mission: healthcare as a basic human right. I was exposed to so many people who tackled obstacles with optimism to achieve an equal healthcare and innovative solutions. I was joined by a wonderful and insightful KILN scholar, Nina Wujech, who pushed me to seek more information about the processes and people that carry out such solutions, which sometimes seem too lofty to accomplish. I am very grateful to the KILN program for providing me with this opportunity to expand my understanding and appreciation of global health. I hope to return to this conference again as part of, or in front of, an audience.
By Nina Wujech, GCSON ‘15:
This is my second consecutive year of attendance and it certainly is refreshing to be in the midst of people who have similar passion and drive. The conference began with phenomenal keynote addresses from some of the finest entrepreneurs and innovators in the industry. The first keynote speaker was Ned Breslin, CEO of Water For People. His address was on “What Project Runway Teaches Us about Creativity, Discomfort and Entrepreneurial Success.” He indicated that the winners of the show are those who can “get out of their comfort zone” and “push the edges.” He also said, “The judges are one’s friends.” If one can take criticism constructively and work hard, one will succeed. I also attended several workshops later on during the day and was able to network with speakers like Maggie Ehrenfried of LifeNet International, whose organization partners with foreign private hospitals to improve access and care. I look forward to partnering with them in the near future.
On the second day of the conference, the most memorable keynote speaker was Agnes Binagwaho, MD, Honorable Minister of Health of Rwanda. It was inspirational to see an African leader who not only has a vision for her country’s health but is succeeding in all of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) established by the United Nations. She shared the steps she is utilizing to achieve the goals, which include: 1) shifting mindsets; 2) galvanizing support from government officials; 3) engaging the community and giving them ownership; 4) conducting monthly meetings to re-evaluate goals; 5) using a results oriented approach; and 6) recognizing human health as a right.
I attended this conference because I am passionate about improving health access and quality in my home country, Cameroon. I work with the Patcha Foundation in Cameroon, where we deliver free screenings and provide healthcare access to thousands of Cameroonians. At the conference, I sought ways to improve our program sustainability and will be sharing this information back with my team. As a soon-to-be family nurse practitioner, this conference will also influence the work I do locally. There are several vulnerable populations around us and this conference teaches creative ways to improve access and quality in resource-poor settings.