I attended the 3rd Annual Cultural Inclusion Institute conference in San Antonio, Texas on April 21 and 22 of 2016. I was fortunately funded to attend through the Keys to Inclusive Leadership in Nursing program. As a nursing student, I had an incredible experience gaining knowledge!
The theme of this conference was “Relating Cultural Inclusiveness to Social Determinants of Health.” After listening to the different speakers and presentations, I was able to define social determinants of health and understand how they drive inequities for individuals and communities. I also learned about trends found in the data analysis and approaches created to reduce health disparities across different populations.
Now knowing the social determinants of health that need to be addressed, the most powerful message I got out of this conference was that we, as health care professionals, must be voices and instigators of change. When it comes to the issue of access to health care, we bring credibility and should act as coordinators and motivators to address the social and political issues that influence health care access in our communities. A quote that really stood out to me was that “people must make good choices but must have good choices to make.”
A notable discussion for me was the effect of exclusion on minority populations, for example LGBTQ individuals. The realization that there are very few laws prohibiting student bullying and employment and housing discrimination against LGBTQ individuals was astonishing. This population is so vulnerable and lacks not just access to health services but culturally competent care.
Though there is no quick solution to eliminate health inequities, we talked about some starting points to initiate change. Proposed steps include better policies, data collection and actual interventions across the lifespan that would change the system. This includes tailoring the curriculum for health care professionals and putting relevant questions on licensing exams. I felt encouraged that great solutions had been drafted and there is a resounding push to get them into play in the community.
I received a wealth of knowledge, including techniques I could utilize to improve patient-provider communication, but most of all I was given so much inspiration and empowerment through example and acknowledgment of my social and ethical responsibilities. I truly realized my privilege and passion, in the Boston College spirit, to be a woman for others.
On April 28, 2016, Lauren O’Shea (’16) was the winner of the 2016 Mary Pekarski Memorial Award from Alpha Chi, the Boston College chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society for Nursing. This award is given annually to a student member of Alpha Chi whose personal essay demonstrates creativity, originality, and excellent writing style from the perspective of a future time. In her essay, Lauren reflected on the influence of her grandfather, who encouraged her to choose a career that would allow her to make a positive difference in the lives of others and helped her to recognize that her strengths were compatible with the profession of nursing. She recalled the impact of her experience caring for patients in the Nueva Vida Clinic in Nicaragua, where hope and gratitude outweighed lack of resources; this experience reinforced the importance of the individualized, holistic care patient care that Lauren will incorporate throughout her career. After graduating with her BS in May, Lauren will complete her master’s degree at Boston College in an accelerated program that will prepare her for certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner.
While graduating from BC was one of the most exciting accomplishments of my life, it was also the most frightening. This is mainly in part of the big question, “what’s next?” Uncertainty about what I was going to do after graduation became a major stressor for me, as I constantly found myself not having an answer to this question each time someone would ask me. Yes, I knew that I had to pass my boards first, but what then? Like myself, I’m sure many of my graduating peers had the same concerns and most likely the upcoming graduates of May. My advice and hopefully this short snippet of my post-graduate life thus far will bring solace and hope for life post-graduation.
After conquering the NCLEX in early July, I still had no clue what field of nursing I would apply to. I knew that I had a strong interest in Women’s Health and gender related issues, but advice from all corners told me to first get experience from a Med-Surg floor. However, I knew that Med-Surg was not for me and that I would not have a valued experience if I were to obtain a job on that unit. It was important to me that I liked what I was doing so that my dedication could be shown in the care that I would provide. With my mind being made up, I began to apply to every women’s health clinic and every labor and delivery position I saw available, both online and in person. As the summer came to an end and September approached, I grew worrisome and downhearted because I had yet to hear from any of the positions I applied to. Slowly, my hopes dwindled and I started to broaden my job search to create more possibilities. It wasn’t until the middle of September that I finally received a call back from my first choice hospital requesting an interview for their labor and delivery unit, and soon after a job offer.
As a new graduate, adapting from the student role into the professional role was the most difficult for me. Making clinical decisions, communicating with other healthcare providers, and finding my voice were all challenges I initially faced but soon solidified my stance as I began to adjust. I found out what resources were available to me through my nurse educator, manager, and mentor and made sure to use those resources as means to become better equipped in the clinical setting.
All in all, while my beginning was a bit rough, after finding my ground and securing a job, things began to fall into place. My advice to the upcoming graduates is to never surrender hope. Finding a job for many of you will most definitely be a challenge, but the key is to stay positive and determined. Everything takes time, and like all things, in due you will get a job. Be hopeful, for I too am a living testament of what hope can do. If that advice isn’t enough, jut remember that the world will always be in need of nurses, and with that, you’re already one step closer.
Patience Marks, RN,BSN
On April 27, 2016, four KILN scholars presented posters describing the work of their research teams at the Alpha Chi Research Day. Alpha Chi is the Boston College Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, the international honor society for nursing. The poster titles and teams members are listed below, with KILN scholars’ names in bold:
• Tina Bui (’16), Meredith Kells, and Professor Susan Kelly-Weeder, “Weighing Practices in Anorexia Nervosa.”
• Nicole Chang (’16), Elisa Kang, and Professor Viola Benavente, “Examining Acculturation of Hispanics for Inclusivity in Cardiovascular Health.”
• Kathryn Free (’17), Debra Lundquist, and Professor Stewart Bond, “Frailty in Older Cancer Survivors: A Literature Review.” (This poster was awarded second place in the poster competition.)
• Lourdes Talavera (’16) and Professor Tam Nguyen, “Do Nurse Residency Programs Improve Job Satisfaction, Retention Rates and Clinical Competency for New Graduate BSN Nurses?”
Developing knowledge through research is an essential aspect of nursing’s commitment to the advancement of quality and excellence in health care. The opportunity to participate in research is an important aspect of leadership development for KILN scholars.
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.
by Ellen Walsh
I am grateful for the wonderful opportunity I had to attend the 37th annual National Conference on Pediatric Health Care in Atlanta, Georgia from March 16-19th. I attended the conference as a new member of NAPNAP, which stands for the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. The conference was a gathering of over 1,500 pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) from across the country. These PNPs are dedicated to ensuring the health and well-being of our nation’s children, and presented the most current, evidenced-based research on many important topics related to child health.
I was initially hesitant to attend the conference, but I knew that I wanted to challenge myself professionally as I prepare to graduate as an advanced practice nurse in May. The conference was affirming in many ways, and the experience has re-energized my desire to be a pediatric provider. Some of my favorite sessions included “ADHD Management for the Reluctant Primary Care Provider”, “Sleep in Children and Adolescents”, “Care for the Immigrant Child”, and “A Trauma-Informed Lens: Managing the Primary Health Needs of Children in Foster Care.” Each speaker challenged the primary care provider to spend the time considering the social determinants of health that affect each of these populations. The presenters provided evidence-based strategies for quality healthcare that included screening tools, tips for family education, and treatment goals. Each conference session built upon the knowledge and clinical skills I have already acquired at Boston College, and has helped me to become a more sensitive provider.
Furthermore, there were many wonderful opportunities for networking with employers and meeting nurse practitioner students from different areas of the country. I plan to stay in touch with the NAPNAP members I met and hopefully reconnect at future conferences. I left Atlanta feeling incredibly empowered – both as a student and as a soon-to-be pediatric nurse practitioner. Thank you KILN for the wonderful opportunity.
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.