KILN student Terry Bustos with SNA members

On April 6-9, 2011, I attended the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA)’s 59th annual convention at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah with members from the Boston College Student Nurses Association (SNA). The theme of this year’s convention was “Defy Gravity: Reaching New Nursing Summits”. The NSNA convention discussed the latest trends, issues, and valuable career opportunities in nursing.

The event featured an exhibit hall and several engaging focus sessions. The exhibit hall was filled with healthcare agencies, nursing schools, publishers, NCLEX review providers, and apparel companies. Although I am only a sophomore, it was great to see all the options open to new graduates as well as summer internship opportunities. Graduate schools and hospitals from across the nation, as well as some global health organizations were recruiting convention attendees. Talking to representatives from different healthcare agencies made me consider working in areas I had never given much thought to like nephrology.

The most intriguing parts of the convention were the focus session lectures given by nurse leaders from all over the country. The first lecture I attended was entitled “Why Having a Ph.D. in Nursing is Fun: Changing Clinical Practice for High Risk Mothers and Babies” by Diane Spatz, Ph.D., RN-BC, FAAN from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Spatz, who is a nurse researcher at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, emphasized how more young nurses should pursue a doctorate degree especially since the average age for a nurse with a Ph.D. is 55. Dr. Spatz talked about her accomplishments, which include inspiring breakthroughs through her breastfeeding promotion initiatives. Her expertise is the provision of human milk/ breastfeeding in mothers who have infants with complex surgical anomalies.

The NSNA convention was an excellent opportunity to see all the options available to nurses. As a member of the BC SNA chapter, I never realized how extensive the NSNA network is and how it is well recognized by organizations like Johnson & Johnson, 3M Littmann, and the armed forces. I am thankful to have attended the conference early in my academic career because it has inspired me to become more involved in the SNA and now I have a better sense of all the doors that are open to nursing students.