Attending the 15th Eastern Regional convention of the Philippine Nurses Association of America (PNAA) in Williamsburg, VA proved to be an excellent learning experience and gateway for my professional career. As a senior nursing student, the “real world” is fast approaching with questions about the NCLEX, graduate school, and choosing a specialty reverberating in my mind. I could not have thought of a better time to be part of such a convention. Talking to nurse leaders from all over the east coast  provided me with a lot of insight about which direction to take. Each nurse I spoke to offered support, advice and excitement that I would be soon joining the nursing workforce. I found the PNAA members from New Jersey to be particularly helpful and accommodating as we discussed employment opportunities around my hometown.

I attended the conference with Denice Calub, a junior BC nursing student. When we first arrived at the conference center, members were preparing for group presentations as part of the Leadership Institute program. Our group’s topic focused on promoting a community health initiative and was facilitated by Rolando Perea, our mentor and BC alumnus. Although the nurses we were collaborating with had years of experience in health care, they were open to all our ideas and accepted our input. Our presentation as well as those of the other groups was delivered with energy and professionalism. It was interesting to see theories and concepts I have learned as part of the BC nursing curriculum incorporated in the presentations. During the Leadership Institute, I also interviewed Belle Villafuerte, president-elect of the New Jersey chapter about her own career and any advice for shaping my own.

Bustos ’13 and Calub ’14 with Madelyn Yu, former PNA-NJ president and current cabinet member

At the “Networking Night” reception, I was introduced to Vicky Navarro,  president of the PNAA along with other key members. Everyone was excited to have students attend the conference as we represent the future of the association. I even networked with nurses associated with the same hospital I work at in New Jersey like Majuvy Suise, current president of the PNA New Jersey.  Overall, it was great to be part of a night dedicated to making Filipino nurses into integral professionals. These nurses come from all over the country to connect and share knowledge, expertise and skills with one another in order to enhance minority leadership.

Three years ago I attended a PNAA conference in Boston as a freshman nursing student. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to attend another one during my senior year as I am preparing to graduate in just five months. I have seen the different career paths I can take and all the potential a Filipino nurse has to pursue excellence. The members I met and observed were inspiring and well achieved leaders in health care. Our presence has motivated them to explore the idea of starting a student membership to recruit younger members, thus extending the life of  this organization. I thank all of the PNAA members for being so welcome and having so much to offer an aspiring student.

To read Denice’s summary of her PNAA experience please click here.