Collen McGauley, KILN scholar, with fellow CSON students at the NSNA convention
Collen McGauley, KILN scholar, with fellow CSON students at the NSNA convention

Where is it that one can find thousands of nursing students from all over the United States coming together to share their passion and drive for what is now considered one of the largest and most trusted professions in the United States? These unique and enlightening experiences can be shared at the annual National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA) Convention. This year, I had the opportunity to attend the convention hosted in Charlotte, North Carolina from April 3-7. I was able to hear inspiring stories from nurse leaders and meet with representatives from leading institutions.

As a sophomore, this conference opened my eyes to the exciting career that I have ahead of me and the numerous opportunities the profession of nursing has to offer. My convention experience began with the Opening Ceremonies on Wednesday, April 3rd where esteemed leaders, such as Marsha Howell Adams, the president of the National League for Nursing, and the Dean of the UCLA School of Nursing, Dr. Courtney H. Lyder, spoke. Adams talked about the recent changes in healthcare and the important and crucial role nurses must play now and in the future. I was intrigued when Adams compared nursing to the glue that holds healthcare together. As the future of nursing, it is the job of students to take advantage of their education to help improve care and expand the nursing profession. Like Adams, Dr. Lyder reminded the audience that we are on a precipice of a new healthcare reform and that nurses must strive to be their best in every possible way. The theme of the convention was promoting healthy living and learning in nurses. Going along with this theme, Dr. Lyder offered his wise words and life lessons. He stated that one should never settle or back down from a challenge and one should keep an open-mind.

In the afternoon, I was able to attend two lectures, one on Emergency Nursing and another on Oncology Nursing. These sessions allowed me to hear about two very different and important careers in nursing. The 2013 President of the Emergency Nurses Association, JoAnn Lazarus, traced the beginnings of trauma care from the Crimean War to emergency nursing today. Lazarus also emphasized the need for trauma care with the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the expanding population. She highlighted that a trauma nurse must have stamina, good personal coping skills, be a critical thinker, and a leader. I also was able to attend another seminar on oncology nursing presented by the Associate Chief Nursing Officer and Assistant Vice President at Duke University, Tracey Gosselin. Gosselin discussed the challenges of treating the pediatric patient with cancer, special diets and health practices to promote prevention in patients, and the treatment advances in cancer therapy.

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Collen McGauley, KILN scholar, with fellow CSON students at the NSNA convention

Friday, the final day of the conference, proved to be another eventful and beneficial day. The morning was filled with attending a health promotion fair that provided tips and tricks for nursing students to maintain a healthy mind, body, and spirit. In the afternoon, I was able to attend two focus sessions. JoAnn Zerwekh, the president of Nursing Education Consultants, presented a lecture on the power in memory. She presented interesting points and devices to help students recall and retain information. Another seminar that I was able to attend was entitled, “ Pharmacology Made Insanely Easy.” I was attracted to this lecture because I am currently taking a pharmacology course. The lecture consisted of fun jingles and rhymes about common drugs that are tested on the NCLEX.

This conference was a great experience and very valuable. I was able to see the numerous possibilities and resources available to nursing students. I heard from inspirational leaders that have motivated me to continue my education and career in nursing. As a representative from SNA and KILN, I was honored and excited to represent Boston College.