AACN News—December 2007—Chapters

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Vol. 24, No. 12, DECEMBER 2007

Thank You, Chapter Poster Abstract Reviewers

Following are members who will be serving on the NTI 2008 Chapter Poster Abstract Review Panel

Philip M. Abenojar, RN, BSN, CCRN, CRN
Memorial Hermann
Houston, Texas

Deborah A. Cochran, RN, BS, BSN
Northeast Georgia Health System
Gainesville, Ga.

Melissa L. Hutchinson, RN, MN, CCRN-CMC, CCNS, CWCN
VA Medical Center Puget Sound
Seattle, Wash.

Stephanie Kendall, RN, BSN
Washington Hospital Center
Washington, D.C.

Debra L. Kramlich, RN, BSN, CCRN
Maine Medical Center
Portland, Maine

Michele L. Lanza, RN, BS, BSN, CCRN, CRN
Southwest General Health Center
Middleburg Heights, Ohio

Beatrice B. Leyden, RN, BSN, CCRN, CRN
Frankford Hospital-Torresdale
Philadelphia, Pa.

William C. Mausser, RN, BSN, MBA, CCRN
University of Iowa Hospital & Clinic
Iowa City, Iowa

Karen L. Nave, RN, CNS, APRN, MSN, CCRN, CS, RN-BC
Pittsburgh, Pa.

Denise L. Pawlak, RN, BN, BS, CCRN
Resurrection Health Care
Chicago, Ill.
Mary Beth Reid, RN, CNS, MS, PhD, CCRN, CEN, RN-BC
Presbyterian Hospital of Denton
Denton, Texas

Joy M. Speciale, RN, BS, MBA, CCRN
Westlake Hospital
Melrose Park, Ill.

Leslie A. Swadener-Culpepper, RN, MSN, CCRN, CCNS
Medical Center of Central Georgia
Macon, Ga.

Laura J. Thompson, RN, BN, MA
Lutheran Health Network
Fort Wayne, Ind.

Mary T. Watkins, RN, BSN, MS
VA Medical Center
Pittsburgh, Pa.

Special Recognition


Congratulations to Diane Davis, past president of the Houston Gulf Coast Chapter, whose essay was selected to be read on the "This I Believe" segment of Houston's National Public Radio. It was chosen from among thousands of essays submitted. Davis has been a registered nurse for almost three decades and during that time she has worked with major medical facilities in the Texas Medical Center. She says being a nurse is a high calling and she honors her profession by being the best caregiver she can be. The respect she has for her work and her patients is displayed in her essay. You can listen to Davis reading her essay at http://www.kuhf.org/site/PageServer?pagename=main_thisibelieve.

Student Involvement in AACN Chapters

By Myrrh Winston, BSc, SN, Charis Lawrenson, BS, SN, Amy Runk, BA, SN, and Mary Holtschneider, RN, BC, BSN, MPA, NREMT-P

At the Duke University School of Nursing (DUSON) in Durham, N.C., accelerated entry-level BSN students learned about therapeutic-induced hypothermia from DaiWai Olson, RN, PhD, CCRN. This AACN vendor-sponsored dinner meeting was just one of many events the students have participated in during the past year. “I have enjoyed hearing about research in a relaxed setting,” said Susan Pierson, one of 22 AACN student members (out of a class of 52). So why would busy student nurses in an Accelerated BSN program join AACN? “Strong encouragement from wise elders,” said student Jo Holt.

With only a short time until they graduate, the students face the daunting prospect of being responsible for their patients’ lives. AACN has helped teach them that staying current in evidence-based practice and being up-to-date with the latest research will help them optimize their patients’ outcomes. The most encouraging aspect of AACN’s influence on the student nurses is that it has sparked their interest in research and has encouraged several of them to pursue their advanced practice degrees. Even nurses not planning to pursue this path have been given concise and useful information about interventions they intend to incorporate into their own nursing practice.

AACN also encourages student participation with CE opportunities and access to highly acclaimed journals. “Each month I look forward to receiving my journals from AACN,” Allison Felkner said. She and the others agree that the journals are an important source of information and essential to keeping members engaged.

Being members has also helped the students to advance their networking skills and to develop professionally and clinically. They acknowledge the importance of participating in AACN events, for the educational as well as the social aspects. The students agree that it has enriched their nursing school experience. Elizabeth Sawicki remarked that building these relationships while still in school was vital, since she would soon be working side-by-side with these RNs. The students have recognized that nursing is much more than just reading textbooks and performing well in clinical rotations. By participating in AACN, they have started to comprehend the larger and more complex dynamic of the nursing profession.
While the students agreed that membership in National AACN and the Triangle Chapter (Durham, N.C.) is important, they feel that a more formalized mentorship program would enrich their experience. These soon-to-graduate students are grateful for the seasoned nurses who have shared their experiences with them. However, there was a sense that some of the seasoned nurses networked among themselves and missed the opportunity to reach out to the students. One suggestion was to have assigned seating at chapter meetings. The students hope that veteran AACN members understand the importance of encouraging student involvement: being a student at his or her first AACN chapter meeting is like being the new kid on the first day of school. As you can imagine it can be very intimidating.

Another suggestion is to have AACN chapter leaders reach out to local nursing school faculty and clinical instructors who are already active AACN members. At DUSON, it was faculty encouragement that led the students to join AACN. A recent poll of AACN chapters indicated there was not much student involvement at the chapter level, although many chapters said that they would like to have greater student involvement. As more students join, chapter leaders can formulate mentorship plans. Maybe National could join the “student enrollment drive.”

As the students embark on the interview process, they understand the importance of being affiliated with a professional organization. Stephanie Brogdon recounted that, during a recent job interview, the nurse manager remarked that she was very impressed by Stephanie’s decision to join AACN as a student, because the organization demonstrated “a dedication to the profession and recognition of the importance of continuing your education.”

In addition to hearing exciting lectures from advanced healthcare providers at the chapter meetings, the Accelerated BSN (ABSN) students feel AACN membership has provided them with a tremendous opportunity to meet nurses from all over the Triangle area, representing many specialties. Because some of the students plan to leave the area after graduation, they are reassured by the fact that they have an AACN chapter at their destination, which will allow them to network and build new relationships.

As one of the many students planning to continue their AACN membership after they graduate, Ali Medlicott summarized their feelings: “It is important to me to be part of a group like AACN which provides members with journals, information and gatherings where the latest technology and evidence-based practice are reviewed and discussed.”

Being part of AACN has helped the students cross the divide from being student nurses to becoming professional nurses. It has given them a greater understanding of the importance of continuing education and staying current on the latest research, and has presented them with opportunities to expand their knowledge.

So what advice would these student nurses give new students? They believe that although they are busy focusing on school and may feel they do not have time for extracurricular groups, it is important to join AACN or another professional organization, even if it’s only to remind yourself of the “bigger picture” of nursing in the real world. It will ease your entry into practice, facilitate leadership opportunities and enrich your nursing school experience. Anna Prall added, “It’s a testament that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.” The possibilities are endless.

Are You In the Loop?

Chapter Updates were e-mailed to chapter officers on 9/20, 9/27 and 10/24.

If your chapter did not receive these updates, please contact chapters@aacn.org so you can be in the loop.
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