KILN Scholars, Chenille Morrison, Yvonne Shih & Megan Hopper at the NSNA Conference
KILN Scholars, Chenille Morrison, Yvonne Shih & Megan Hopper, at the NSNA Conference

I, along with two other KILN members, Chenille Morrison & Yvonne Shih, attended the 62 Annual National Student Nurses Association Conference at the beginning of this month. The conference was held in Nashville, Tennessee and the theme was Strong Voices and Big Dreams: Influencing the Future. As a senior nursing student I was excited to attend a conference with fellow nursing students from across the country and network with leaders in nursing, especially with graduation looming around the corner.

Every morning of the conference started off with the NCLEX review course. I will be taking the NCLEX in June and it was beneficial to review the nursing information and study tips. There was a mixture of medical-surgical overview with practice NCLEX questions that included audience participation, which made the course very engaging. I feel better prepared for studying for the NCLEX now that I have realized my strengths and weaknesses.

On Wednesday I was able to attend the session “Nursing Down Under: Pioneering Students Advocating for their Profession.” Two novice nurses from Australia spoke about the differences between nursing school in Australia and the United States. They discussed the process they took in starting the Australia Student and Novice Nurse Associations (ASANNA). They saw a need for an association to support nursing students and new graduate nurses in their first five years of practice as these populations felt dis-empowered and unengaged. As a result, they started this group in their dorm room and it has now spread to many universities and hospitals across Australia. Their message of seeing a problem and finding a solution was inspirational. It is possible to make change even as a young nurse and it is important to seek out opportunities to be a leader and change nursing for the better.

A similar message was given at the Opening Ceremony Wednesday night by the keynote speaker Gloria Ferraro Donnelly from Drexel University. The topic of her address was, “What’s Your Hunch? Ideas that changed Nursing and Healthcare.” I learned about the important nursing leaders of the past such as Florence Nightingale and Lillian Wald and how they had hunches and made changes. It is important as a graduating nurse to experiment with ideas and make a difference by acting on my hunches. One nurse can make a huge impact.

KILN Scholar Megan Hopper at the NSNA Conference
KILN Scholar Megan Hopper at the NSNA Conference

On Thursday the Exhibit Hall opened and I was able to meet representatives from hospitals, colleges, and nursing committees. I am interested in medical-surgical nursing and was able to speak with the representatives for the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses.  I learned about the importance of joining nursing associations as a new graduate as they are great for networking and general support.

I attended multiple focus sessions including “Interprofessional Patient-Centered Care, The Real CSI: Insight into the World of Forensic Nursing” and “Building on Nursing’s Legacy-What Will Yours Be?” I was most interested in learning about ways to build on nursing’s legacy. Shawn Kennedy, Editor in Chief for the American Journal of Nursing, spoke of the challenges in the past and current problems facing nurses. This went along with the conference’s theme of looking at past nursing leaders and building on their success by realizing your own potential.

Overall the conference was a great experience. I feel better prepared to enter the nursing workforce with strategies to influence the future of nursing by building on my experiences, being flexible, and taking advantage of networking opportunities. I look forward to attending more conferences in the future as a Registered Nurse.


To read about Yvonne Shih’s experience attending the NSNA conference click here.