by Helen Au, Tina Bui, Habin Cho, Hana Chung, Hyunsue Chung, Abiola Lawal, Leslie Lim
The National Student Nurses Association (NSNA) Annual Convention was an excellent opportunity for students, faculty, and nursing leaders around the USA to gather together to expand and enhance their academic, clinical, and networking skills. Held in Orlando, Florida at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, the NSNA Convention provided lifelong memories, leadership opportunities, networking and educational opportunities for all participants. A group of nursing students from Boston College’s Keys to Inclusive Leadership in Nursing (KILN) program had the opportunity to attend; Helen Au ‘18, Tina Bui ’16, Habin Cho ’16, Hana Chung ’17, Hyunsue Chung ’17, Abiola Lawal ’17 and Leslie Lim ’16, share their thoughts on the NSNA’s 64th Annual Convention:
Although I was in a large room with over 100 students and faculty members, I felt I was part of a community despite my limited clinical experience. The NSNA made me realize that I have an important role in shaping the future of an expanding and essential career field.
One event in particular that stood out to me was the Plenary Session, in which the speaker discussed what keeps nurses up at night. It reminded me that other nurses and nursing students were going through the same things as me. The most important thing is to acknowledge our concerns and struggles because, without acknowledgement, no action can be taken to initiate change.
Erica Cartlidge spoke of nursing experiences that led her to pursue an oncology clinical nurse specialist role. Through her talk, I was reminded of the importance of initiating conversations with nursing leaders and pursuing shadowing and volunteering opportunities, which can give us some significant experiences and open new doors. Overall, the NSNA Convention was a great opportunity for me to take advantage of during the final semester of my undergraduate career as it was a great source of inspiration and empowerment.
Throughout the convention, I came across many inspiring leaders who shared stories of their lives and experiences as nurses. Learning about the history, the scope, and the future of nursing has given me a better understanding of the nursing profession and broadened my own vision and goals as a nursing student.
I felt empowered to be in the presence of nursing students from all over the world, who were coming up with innovative and complex resolutions to create change in the nursing field. I felt as though, for once, nursing students could make a huge difference both within our respective communities and in the nursing field, and I was excited to be a part of this legislative process.
I had the opportunity to sit in on the NSNA House of House Delegates Session. At this session, I observed how powerful the nursing student voice was and how we had the power to make a difference. In that room, I felt like an important member of the larger nursing field where the voices of the student nurses were being heard and taken into consideration.
Attending a professional nursing conference was an invaluable opportunity. I found that many students were there as representatives of their own respective nursing associations and that despite the distance between us – both geographically and perhaps even in status – we were all bonded together by common experiences. Altogether, it was reassuring to feel that regardless of differences in age, experience, and wherever “home” was – that we could share camaraderie and bonds with new faces in a familiar career path.
On March 16, 2016, the Keys to Inclusive Leadership in Nursing hosted an Alumni Panel & Networking Night in which we had the pleasure of having the following KILN alumni (l-r on photo): Sang Mi Jeon ’15, Little Regional Hospital in NH; Terry Bustos ’13, Overlook Medical Center in NJ; Malika Weekes ’13, Boston Children’s Hospital; Jennifer Etienne ’12, Mystic Valley Elder Services in MA ; Cindy Cao ’14, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and Andrea Lopez ’14, Tufts Medical Center. Before and after the panel, students networked one-on-one with alumni to learn more about their nursing paths. Faculty and staff also got a chance to reconnect with alumni and meet with current students. The KILN Leadership Council facilitated the panel and the panelists shared their diverse journeys and pearls of wisdom. A few common themes emerged as alumni encouraged students to network, work hard, and be open to different experiences in order to find their passion. Students shared the following thoughts:
The KILN Alumni Networking event was a great opportunity for undergraduate students to connect with CSON alumni and hear their personal post-grad work experiences. I was inspired and encouraged by their stories and felt reassured that if I keep an open mind and persevere with patience, I can ultimately get a job I desire. I learned that two challenges a new grad nurse will always face are time management and prioritization, and that it is important to utilize communication effectively to work well with other healthcare members and patients and their families. I was touched by the alumni’s welcoming and friendly personalities and their willingness to speak with undergraduate students before and after the panel. Thank you to all the alumni who have taken the time to come back to BC and share their wisdom!
– Habin Cho
Hearing the experiences of the BC KILN alums made me feel so much more confident in being able to apply the skills I am learning post-graduation. Their advice definitely eased a lot of anxiety about being a new grad.
– Abiola Lawal
The alumni panel was an amazing opportunity to see how much young alumni have changed during their careers, which helped me understand how much variety there is in nursing. Additionally, they offered great advice about how to grow and network during my college years so that I am more successful as a future nurse.
– Chiamaka Okorie
Coming out to the event was a great decision. I was ambivalent at first (as any young nursing student would be about intimidating networking nights) but the atmosphere was very warm and supportive! Everyone had relatable stories to share that were both comforting and full of wisdom.
– Leslie Lim
The KILN program is grateful for the support and participation of our six alumni who returned to campus to share their experiences. We are excited to continue witnessing the growth of our KILN alumni network.
New England Regional Black Nurses Excellence in Nursing Awards
On February 12th, Kadiatu Tejan ’16, Kim Monestime ’17, Winbriel Gandy ’16, and Loic Assobmo ’17 had the opportunity to attend the New England Regional Black Nurses Association’s (NERBNA) 28th Excellence in Nursing Award Celebration. The event focused on recognizing Black nurses who consistently excel in their profession and specialty areas (NERBNA). For the students, the event was an opportunity to acknowledge the importance of diversity in healthcare and the practice of holistic nursing. Below KILN students share their thoughts.
Motivation to Excel
It was great to be in an environment where individuals were still passionate about their field and strived for excellence and leadership. The award recipients not only represented these ideals, but also served as examples of the importance of mentoring and education.
As a Black male nursing student, I felt like this was one of the few proud moments in my career where I heard people outwardly welcoming, encouraging, and celebrating the importance of males in the profession. It was even more empowering to look around and notice so many professionals with the same skin color as me, being recognized for achieving great things in the field of nursing. I felt a strong sense of pride and motivation.
The accomplishments of the members who received awards served as motivation to always go the extra mile in providing optimal patient care. They each exhibited outstanding communication, leadership, and compassion.
Keynote Speaker: Reverend Veronica A. Clarke-Tasker, PhD, RN, MS, MBA, MPH, & M. Div.
Reverend Veronica A. Clarke-Tasker of Howard University spoke about the importance of education, compassion, and diversity in the field of nursing. She urged us to continue our education, not just for the sake of ourselves, but of others. She is a great role model for our generation where other matters have taken priority over pursuing an education.
“With nursing anything is possible. The job definition of a nurse is endless. As a nurse you must create your own path and destiny.” These were the words of Reverend Veronica Clarke-Tasker, who was one of the first nurses I met at the NERBNA Excellence in Nursing Award Celebration.
The keynote speaker reminded all of us about the importance of caring for every patient in a holistic manner. Nursing, as we understand it to be, is a profession that requires a person to be both empathetic and sympathetic. We must put aside our preconceived notions, put aside our own beliefs and differences, and focus on the humanity of the patient.
I considered myself privileged to get the business card of the keynote speaker of the event, Veronica Clarke-Tasker, and the business card of the president of NERBNA, who remembered me when I called her to follow-up. Although the event is over, the connections I have made will really be important for me as I continue my journey in nursing.
I was able to network with not only students and professors from BC, but also with other nurses who were able to tell their story of becoming a nurse.
It was great to meet CSON and KILN alumni as I was able to talk to them about their specialties and opportunities they pursued after graduating from the CSON.
Written by Loic Assobmo
As a nursing student, my future aspirations are to synthesize my medical knowledge and entrepreneurial experiences in a way that will allow me to contribute to solving healthcare issues in Africa. Being that my ultimate goal is to work in the field of medical entrepreneurship, it was great to meet future leaders at the Africa Business Conference. I met top-level stakeholders and students from Yale, Harvard, MIT, Oxford, and other major universities from around the world who were also passionate about solving healthcare issues in Africa. In addition, I was able to attend several panels where I heard from business stakeholders from companies like GE and Google discuss some of the latest market trends of business and healthcare in Africa. Not only was I impressed by their work in the field, but I was also excited to be getting some of the most up to date research in my area of interest.
One of the most memorable moments of the conference for me was meeting Ashifi Gogo, the founder of a company called Sproxil, which has done tremendous work to improve health in Africa by reducing the rates of the counterfeit drug industries. I got a chance to get his business card, some pearls of wisdom, and feedback regarding some of my ideas. This was just one of the many highlights from the conference. Overall, the conference has definitely increased my motivation and passion for global health and entrepreneurship.
The KILN Program would like to congratulate Chiamaka Okorie on winning the Martin Luther King Scholarship! The scholarship recognizes a Boston College junior who has demonstrated superior academic achievement, extracurricular leadership, community service, and involvement with the African American community and African American issues.
After graduating from Boston College in 2014, I worked on an intermediate medicine unit for over a year where I was able to see a range of diseases and illnesses. I appreciated this experience straight out of nursing school because it gave me a strong foundation on general nursing skills. I am glad that I did not immediately work on a floor with a focus on a specialty because it did not corner me in. Instead, it exposed me to a variety of illnesses with their own unique challenges, which allowed me to figure out the population I ultimately wanted to work with. We got everything from cardiac, GI, renal, psychiatric, and neurology patients. I discovered that I enjoyed working with cancer patients the most, which is why I applied for and am now working on a hematology/oncology/bone marrow transplant floor.
I’ve had a couple notable experiences in my first year as a registered nurse. One good moment that justified my reason for becoming a nurse was when a patient’s daughter called my floor to thank me specifically for the care I provided her father. I was able to connect with her family well; and it made me proud when the medical team personally thanked me and one of the doctors sent a note to my nurse manager. It made me realize I was doing something right! On the flip side, there are also sad moments. I’ll never forget hugging one of my patient’s sons after she passed away and feeling his tears hit my forehead even though he tried really hard to hold them back.
The best advice I could give to a new graduate is to never hold back on asking questions, even if you think it’s a foolish one. There’s so much to learn even after passing your boards and becoming an RN. Think of it this way – if a question came up that was pertinent to your patient’s care and safety and you held back because you were intimidated by a doctor (and trust me that happens when they turn to you for updates during rounds and you realize you’re not just a nursing student anymore), you’d be doing your patient an injustice. My second piece of advice would be to brush up on your pathophysiology and never be afraid to look things up – when you understand the pathophysiology behind an illness, you become aware of the reasoning behind the treatment you are providing, but most importantly you are able to anticipate what could go wrong with your patient. The last piece of advice is to work hard and take it day by day – you’ll be very task-driven the first couple months of practice and the critical thinking skills might not come until later without you even noticing it. And that’s completely normal and okay!
Every nurse has her own style; every floor has its own perks and culture; and every hospital has its own rules. However, trust that nursing school has prepared you well enough, and that you’ll only get better each day wherever you go.
I just graduated from Boston College this past May, earning my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This past summer, I took the NCLEX-RN examination and passed- making me an official registered nurse! With a great passion for Women’s Health, I am now attending University of Pennsylvania’s (Penn) graduate nursing school, specifically the Women’s Health/ Gender Related Nurse Practitioner program.
Post-graduate life has brought a lot of changes for me. I had to get used to leaving my friends, moving to a new city, and getting used to graduate school. It was a huge adjustment to be around generally older people, navigating a completely different campus, and trying to maintain being independent, as I didn’t have my former roommates or my family close to me. At first, I started to doubt myself, wondering if I was capable of going to graduate school right away in a new place without nursing experience.
I reflected on why I felt not well adjusted, realizing that I was used to being involved in extra-curricular activities and volunteering. Especially with participating in KILN, I missed attending professional conferences and making the effort to meet with nursing leaders. Furthermore, I reflected on how KILN has given me the tools to adjust. The program taught me to advocate for myself, strive to stay connected to others, and be ambitious to try to take on a new role. KILN inspired me to not only wish to be a leader, but to just do it! I reflected on all the great events I got to be a part of because of KILN and how it helped me grow. Remember that time I went to a conference as a mere undergraduate and was so nervous about introducing myself? Remember that time KILN helped me fund a trip to present research at a conference, a task that I have never done before?
With the tools I learned in KILN, I regained the courage to get out of my comfort zone. I joined Penn’s Nursing Graduate Student Organization (GSO), an organization for Penn’s nursing masters students. Through GSO, I have met wonderful, fellow students and continue to remain friends with them. I expressed my desire to become more active in GSO, started to help them plan events, and now I am on GSO’s Executive Board as Marketing Chair. In addition, I just got back from a GSO trip to Boston/Cambridge to attend Harvard Business School’s 12th Annual Healthcare Conference.
I am involved in other initiatives on Penn’s campus. I am part of the Nursing Student Leadership Council (NSLC), and through NSLC, I am helping plan the School of Nursing’s wellness week in April. I am on the Executive Board for a new initiative called My Penn Graduate Families (#myPGFam), which is a way for graduate to be designated into smaller groups and create connections with other graduate students across all 12 graduate schools. Lastly, I am on the planning committee for the Annual West Philadelphia Health Fair, in which Penn graduate students volunteer and apply their skills learned in school to provide free care to the West Philadelphian population.
Overall, my advice to the current KILN scholars is to grow as much as you can during your participation in KILN because those skills, such as advocating for yourself, adjusting to new situations, and trying new things, will be invaluable for the rest of your life! I am grateful to be a KILN alumnus, and I wish the best of luck to all the current and future KILN scholars.