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.
Since graduating from BC in 2012, there have been many changes that have taken place in my life. Currently I work full time at New England Rehabilitation Hospital on the Cardiac/Stroke unit and also per diem at one of the clinics for Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. I also plan to start a Family Nurse Practitioner Program in spring of 2016.
The transition from nursing student to professional nurse can be quite challenging. However with support from family, friends, and mentors, the transition can be a lot smoother. During the first years of working, a concept I found challenging to deal with and personally experienced was that coworkers are not always supportive. In healthcare, especially in nursing, one may encounter what has been termed “horizontal violence” or “nurse-to-nurse bullying.” In these situations it is important to advocate for yourself and seek support from mentors, nursing leaders or even human resources professionals.
Leadership and mentoring remain part of my professional development. I acted as the charge nurse at one of my previous jobs at Lexington Health Care Center. I continue to be involved in professional organizations such as the National Black Nurses Association and Massachusetts Nurses Association. Also, I am involved with the Horatio Alger Association, a nonprofit organization where I was recognized as a National Scholar and awarded a scholarship. I mentor and do outreach to new Horatio Alger Scholars. In addition, I continue to reach out and mentor new nurses who are still at BC or have graduated from BC.
My advice to current students is to seek out mentors who can help you progress towards your goals. Network with your professors, classmates, and clinical instructors and get involved in professional organizations such as MASNA. Also I would encourage current students to seek employment as a nursing assistant at a place where they would like to be employed. New graduates are more likely to be hired as nurses if they have worked at an organization as a nursing assistant. Do not get discouraged if you still do not have a job offer after you take the NCLEX. It may take weeks or even months but keep looking and an opportunity will surely find you! Make sure to use friends, alumni, professors, classmates, former employers, mentors and family as resources when looking for jobs. Good luck!
By Sherine Thomas
I arrived in Las Vegas on a Saturday night with very different intentions than those of most tourists. My colleagues and I were there to attend the Nurse Practitioner Associates for Continuing Edcucation (NPACE) conference and discuss the newest recommendations for managing diabetes, controlling asthma and hypertension, STI prevention, contraception and other common ailments seen by primary care providers.
The conference started off with keynote speaker, Stephanie Ahmed, NP, discussing the role of the Nurse Practitioner in meeting the “triple aim” of better health, better care and better cost for patients. Her discussion of the major health reform drivers (aging, cost of care and MD shortage) described the unique position of NPs to make measurable, desirable changes in health outcomes for the US population. Any doubt the audience may have had about the ability of NPs to bridge the primary care provider – patient gap was erased after her presentation. By providing lower-cost, high-quality health care hopefully the US will see improvements in its health care ranking compared to other developed country in the years to come.
It was great for me to experience these wonderful presentations by nurse practitioners, for nurse practitioners. Not only were the various sessions informative but this was a great networking opportunity for me. The Northeast was well represented at the conference from speakers such as Mimi Secor, Stephanie Ahmed and Wendy Wright, who have ties to Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston College, to providers based in community health, correctional health and primary care offices in the Boston area. I had the chance to speak with a number of these people, getting tips for the job search process and stories on their experiences as new graduate nurse practitioners.
My time at the NPACE Primary Care conference in Las Vegas is not one I will soon forget. I appreciate the opportunity provided to me by KILN to be updated on the new guidelines in primary care as well as to experience a new part of the country. As I prepare to enter clinical practice in a few months I have no doubt that I will use these guidelines in my practice.
On March 13, 2015, Loretta Sweet Jemmott, PhD, RN, FAAN, took time out from her responsibilities at the University of Pennsylvania to speak with CSON students in a workshop hosted by the Keys to Inclusive Leadership in Nursing program. Dr. Jemmott is the van Ameringen Professor in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing and Associate Director of the Center for Health Equity Research at the University of Pennsylvania. She and her colleagues have been awarded more than $74 million in federal funding to study HIV/AIDS prevention among African American adolescents. She is committed to her work with community-based organizations to design, implement, and evaluate HIV prevention programs in minority populations. A master teacher, Dr. Jemmott has taught courses in the areas of AIDS, human sexuality, and sexual health promotion.
In addition to a passionate discussion about her research, Dr. Jemmott shared personal stories that resonated with students. Her wisdom about making career and life choices and coping with barriers and struggles was encouraging and motivating. Dr. Jemmott kept everyone’s attention with her powerful words and her amazing sense of humor, especially in the question and answer session. The students left the event with new ideas about career paths and the courage to remain flexible and take unexpected opportunities. One of the attendees, Abiola Lawal (CSON ’17), shared her reflections on the event:
By Abiola Lawal
“Never say I don’t know. Think fast and always say something. You never know the power of the person you are talking to” were some of the wise words spoken by Dr. Jemmott. For a woman with many years of professional success, she was vibrant and spoke with the vigor of a 21-year-old! Dr. Jemmott talked about her life and discussed the many obstacles she had to overcome, including the challenge of being the first generation in her family to attend college. She mentioned the doubts she had when her dream of becoming a nurse seemed impossible and how she overcame those doubts. She shared professional advice about excelling in nursing and personal advice such as the importance of finding a good partner. She was captivating from the beginning to end and never lost my interest. She even made the break fun by having us sing and dance to one of the songs she uses in her teen pregnancy prevention programs. Sounds silly right? I know! But, I found myself sad at the end of the talk and was amazed by the fact that two hours had gone by so quickly. Not only did Dr. Jemmott speak on nursing and life partners, but also on how her faith in God was crucial to her success. She told us to “step out on faith because you are not going to fail.” Of the many words of wisdom Dr. Jemmott shared, one that resonated most with me was “Always remember the ‘AHA’ moment that made you pick nursing as a career.” This will be my reminder whenever I begin to doubt my nursing journey or find myself wondering why I even chose nursing. Preparing towards her new administrative position at Drexel University next fall, Dr. Jemmott served as an inspiration and a role model to all who attended. As I move forward in my nursing career, I will always remember to “Reach out, try new things, and be willing to keep going!”
On February 23, 2015, the KILN program sponsored a workshop featuring Dr. Elaine Meyer, who shared personal experiences with tough conversations from both the nurse and patient perspectives. She spoke about healthcare communication and relational strategies, reflective listening, and empathetic presence. Dr. Meyer, a nurse, is the co-founder and director of the Institute for Professionalism and Ethical Practice at Boston Children’s Hospital and an Associate Professor of Psychology in Harvard Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry.
Dr. Meyer was introduced to the students as a nursing leader in therapeutic communication between healthcare professionals and their clients. For example, when clients go through a difficult time during treatment or receive a life-changing diagnosis, healthcare professionals can ask Dr. Meyer to help them speak to patients who are about to receive bad news or make hard decisions. During our group conversation with Dr. Meyer, I learned that it is about “being present, not perfect.” This phrase spoke to me. Personally, I have been reflecting on pros and cons of a perfectionist or type-A personality. I admit that I enjoy using a planner, figuring out things ahead of time, and completing tasks correctly the first time by closely following the stated instructions. Most of the time, a type-A personality has helped me achieve good results. However, as a nursing student in the healthcare setting for the past three years, I have noticed that a type-A personality does not always benefit a client, especially when you or the client do not have control over a debilitating disease or unsuccessful medical treatment. What can I do then?
After attending this seminar, I have been challenged to practice being present with the clients. Dr. Meyer argued that difficult situations do not demand the most perfect nurse. Rather, during the most difficult and vulnerable moments in a client’s life, a nurse is called to be human and simply share a moment of mutual understanding with a hand grasp or eye contact. Furthermore, Dr. Meyer listed specific nurse leadership qualities (e.g. courage, knowledge, and compassion) and encouraged the audience to develop these traits in hopes of providing our clients with both physical and emotional healing.
Dr. Meyer’s TEDx Talk entitled “Being Present, Not Perfect,” may be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phUUjk_btiY
I knew that attending The International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH) Annual Conference was going to be an incredible experience—what I didn’t know was just how powerful of an addition it would be to my network, career plans, and education. I have been in the field of women’s health for a while, but the level of passion, dedication, and knowledge that I encountered at the ISSWSH conference showed me an entirely new level of women’s health and its future. The conference was for practitioners and clinicians across the spectrum of health, and included doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, therapists, and pelvic physical therapists.
The conference was held in Austin, Texas, and was a welcome reprieve from Boston’s harsh winter. When I arrived, I realized that I was one of the only students in attendance, and without any Boston College faculty or guide present it was up to me to meet the various leaders in the field, introduce myself, and create a connection leaving a positive impression. This proved to be an intimidating, yet very rewarding task, as I quickly connected with multiple leaders in the field and was acknowledged as a dedicated future practitioner rather than just a student.
Each day of the conference was filled with panel discussions, educational talks, presentations on new research and guidelines, as well as interactive learning experiences, diagnostic assistance, and new technology. Because of my focus on nursing, I was unsure of what to expect with so many different professionals in one place. What I realized was that the strengths and passions each professional brought to the educational talks and discussions could lead to a remarkable collaboration between the different professions. I was able to sit down with several physical therapists who went over new assessment guidelines in female pelvic health with me, simply because I was curious of the evolving role of pelvic physical therapy in women’s health and what role I could play in providing my patients with comprehensive care and evaluations during their annual exams. Doctors were also willing to spend time sharing information about the research done on diffuse pain disorders as it relates to women’s health diagnostic criteria. In addition, I attended a presentation called “Stump the Professor” where the leaders in the field were part of a panel presented with a unique case study. They could ask questions, consult the audience, incorporate their ideas and questions into their diagnostic thought-process, and try to make an interactive diagnosis. This panel was both incredibly interesting and informative, as the way that the information was presented and the level of contribution from the audience made the cases, symptoms, and treatments memorable.
I learned about cases, diagnoses, research, and treatment, but I also learned more about the challenges the field of women’s health is facing. Examples include a petition to change certain post-menopausal terminology to more accurately reflect a women’s state of health, the FDA pushback against women’s health medications, and the lack of universal guidelines for women’s health assessment among doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.
Overall, it took time to process everything that I learned and to begin going through the resources I now have for my future practice. The connections I made at this conference have already played a role in my future. With only two months left until I graduate, the leaders of the conference were happy to offer networking opportunities with those geographically close to where I will be moving, and within a few days I had several connections set up with even more of the leading advocates, practitioners, and educators in the field—all in San Francisco, the place I will be moving back to upon graduation.
This was my first, but definitely not my last, ISSWSH conference. To be in the same space as so many individuals who are passionate and dedicated to the same specialty was empowering, inspirational, and further evidence that I am on the right path. I am incredibly excited to become a part of the ISSWSH community as I begin my journey as a women’s health nurse practitioner, and am already looking forward to next year’s conference!