KILN scholars with Dr. Angela Amar, associate professor at Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing
KILN Scholars with Dr. Angela Amar, associate professor at Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing

Three KILN Scholars, Patience Marks (CSON ’15), Diana Paris (CSON ’13), and Malika Weekes (CSON ’13) participated in the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) 41st Annual Conference in New Orleans. The mission of the NBNA is to “represent and provide a forum for black nurses to advocate for and implement strategies to ensure access to the highest quality of healthcare for persons of color.”  This year’s conference theme was “Advancing the Profession of Nursing through Education, Practice, Research, and Leadership”. Scholars had the opportunity to network with nurse leaders and learn about a variety of healthcare topics. Below are some thoughts from the scholars.

Gaining New Knowledge
The opportunities to learn something new at this conference were endless.  I now understand the pivotal role advanced practice registered nurses will hold once the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, the barriers to minority faculty representation in nursing schools, the different levels of trauma centers, and the health effects of electrical wiring in our homes.

– Malika Weekes, BS, RN 

I attended the Cardiovascular Institute and the Mental Health Workshop. The Cardiovascular Institute discussed important topics including the importance of nursing expertise in cardiovascular care to help prevent readmissions, developing preventive measures and interventions in the young population to help reduce the incidence of coronary heart disease in African Americans, and heart failure treatment disparities. The Mental Health Workshop discussed vital issues including the effects of stalking and cyber stalking on mental health, the influence of anxiety and stress on African American Women’s Health, and current mental health research on African American males.

– Diana Paris, MS, RN, FNP     

Opportunities to Engage in Dialogue and Build Relationships
Attending this conference provided me with a foundation for success and challenged me to think outside the box. I was fortunate to attend the NBNA conference because I had the opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue with seasoned professionals and enhance my knowledge to be thoroughly prepared to respond to the vast needs in primary care, particularly in underserved communities.

– Diana Paris, MS, RN, FNP     

KILN scholars with Dr. Deborah Washington, director of Diversity Patient Care Services at MGH
KILN Scholars with Dr. Deborah Washington, director of Diversity Patient Care Services at MGH

I was asked to participate in a group study for a research project focusing on black students’ experiences and mentoring needs in nursing programs. The purpose of the research is to possibly implement a mentoring program between NBNA leaders and students. I not only valued the purpose of this research but enjoyed meeting other striving nursing students at the conference. I managed to get to know them better and initiated a relationship with them; one of which I feel will hold a positive impact on my nursing career. Additionally, being included in this study helped me to appreciate the efforts of the KILN program inclusion of mentors.

– Patience Marks 

Each experience on the schedule, from the opening ceremony to the career and education fair to the ecumenical service, provided opportunities for black nurses and nursing students from across the country to network and encourage one another’s professional lives.

– Malika Weekes, BS, RN 

Application to Healthcare Delivery
“People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” Colonel Patricia W. Ross stated. I perceived that she meant that we need to put the knowledge and proper nursing care we learn into action. We need to value each patient and handle each one with care, openness, and respect. Taking that extra time to holistically oversee the patient and his or her plan of care goes a long way in eliminating a health disparity.

– Patience Marks 

NBNA President Deidre Walton, JD, MSN, RN-PHN highlighted the need for APRNs to be active in their state legislatures to reform the scope-of-practice regulations to allow NPs to practice independently to the fullest extent of their education and training, including unlimited prescriptive authority. Personally, this message fueled my desire to dedicate my career to transforming the delivery of health care by assuming different leadership roles. In these roles, I will use the invaluable lessons from the NBNA conference, my clinical experiences, and research to help transform healthcare policy as a long-term career goal.

– Diana Paris, MS, RN, FNP

To read more about the student experience at the NBNA conference click here

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