AACN News—March 2009—Chapters

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Vol. 26, No. 3, MARCH 2009

Chapter Listserv Hot Topic: Recruiting New Graduate Nurses

A recent discussion on the Chapter Listserv focused on best practices for recruiting new graduate nurses to join their local AACN chapter.

Two chapters shared their strategies. Cindy Gimont, president of the Greater Reading Chapter in Pennsylvania, wrote, “I like to share with new nurses the importance of belonging to such a professional organization for both personal and professional growth. Belonging to a chapter provides camaraderie with other critical care nurses as well as the opportunity for continuing education opportunities. I encourage all new nurses to join.”

Laura Goldstein, former president of the Ocean State Chapter in Rhode Island, shared the following: “When I was president of the Ocean State Chapter, I encouraged chapter members to bring a new nurse or nurse intern to the chapter meetings, a kind of mentoring buddy approach. I made the meetings free to all student nurses and college nursing instructors. I e-mailed and mailed the local colleges with announcements of upcoming chapter meetings. When we would get a nurse intern or students on the unit I would give them flyers and personally invite them to come. Often the new grads were nervous about coming, because the unit nurses were sometimes intimidating.

I told them they didn’t need to join AACN to attend the meetings. They were welcome just to come and network. I made a point to welcome them at the meeting and introduce them to other nurses. I always had AACN information available if they wanted to see what AACN was all about. I referred them to the organization’s Web site, www.aacn.org. I also used AACN articles to teach aspects of critical care when issues came up. It helped to demonstrate the relevance of the organization. I tried not to push too much. One thing I did stress was the free CEUs that are a benefit of membership. In Rhode Island, we have a continuing education license requirement, and free CEUs are a resource they could readily use.”

There are many great ways to reach new nurses, and we invite chapters to share their strategies so that all chapters can benefit. Simply log on to the Chapter Listserv at http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/aacnchapterlistserv or send us an e-mail at chapters@aacn.org and we will share your ideas with the other chapters. The Chapter Listserv is where questions are answered and relationships are formed. We invite you to join the Chapter Listserv and become a part of this great chapter networking community. To join, go to www.aacn.org > Community > Chapters > Chapter Listserv. Other resources available to you include your Chapter Advisory Team (CAT) and the Chapter Department staff at the national AACN office. Please contact your CAT at region#@aacn.org, or the national office toll-free at (800) 394-5995, ext. 365 or 313.

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Chapter Leaders: Have You Registered for LDW Yet?

Registration is under way for the 11th annual Chapter Leadership Development Workshop (LDW) at NTI 2009. You must register by April 30, 2009. Seating is limited. (LDW registration is separate from NTI registration.) The LDW helps chapter leaders learn the essential components of successful chapter management: strategic planning, financial planning and educational planning. Each chapter that sends at least one leader to LDW will receive a $350 grant from AACN to help offset the costs (airfare, hotel, etc.). And, the first chapter leader registration received from each chapter is complimentary. Additional leaders may attend LDW for $85 each. Category O or C (Synergy CERP) CNEs are provided. The LDW will be held Sunday, May 17, 2009 at the Hilton Riverside, and includes breakfast and lunch. For more information or to register, go to www.aacn.nti > Chapters or e-mail us at chapters@aacn.org.

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What’s on Tap?


The South Central Alaska Chapter will present “Practice With Confidence Part II – Using Evidence-based Practice and a Healthy Work Environment” March 20-21 at Alyeska Resort, Girdwood. For more information, contact Terry Fricks; (907) 861-6695; t.fricks@msrmc.com.


The San Joaquin Central
Valley Chapter will present “CCRN/PCCN Review” March 17-19 at Fresno Heart and Surgical Hospital, Fresno. For more information, contact Bonnie Corcoran; knbcorc@comcast.net.


The Greater Miami Area Chapter will present “Miami Teaching Institute” March 20 at Jungle Island, Miami. AACN President-elect Beth Hammer will be the keynote speaker. For more information, contact Joan Baker; (305) 243-3298; jbaker2@med.miami.edu.


The Northwest Chicago Area Chapter will present “Cancer Complications in the ICU Patient” April 15 at Northwest Community Hospital, Arlington Heights. For more information, contact Jenny Zaker; (847) 618-7975; jzaker@nch.org.


The Chesapeake Bay Chapter will present “Adult CCRN & PCCN Combination Review Course,” April 14-16 at Sheppard Pratt Conference Center, Towson. For more information, contact Karen Droter; (410) 248-9353; mdroter@aol.com.


The Greater St. Louis Chapter will present “27th Annual Spring Symposium: Emerging Trends in Critical Care” March 25-26 at St. Charles Convention Center, St. Charles. For more information, contact Teresa Martin; (314) 653-1828; teresalm@bjc.org.

North Carolina

The Gate City Chapter will present “Innovations in Critical Care 2009” March 13 at Moses Cone Memorial Hospital, Greensboro. For more information, contact Teresa Crite; (336) 832-2100; teresa.crite@mosescone.com.


The Houston Gulf Coast Chapter will present “Combined CCRN/PCCN Review” March 21-22 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, Houston. For more information, contact Jean Uy; (713) 794-7363; jean.uy@va.gov.


The Inland Northwest Chapter will present “Critical Care Symposium” March 9-10 at Gonzaga University, Spokane. For more information, contact Sarah Courneya; (509) 979-4684; seesarey@icehouse.net.


The Greater Milwaukee Area Chapter will present “Pet Therapy” and “Gene Therapy” April 7 at St. Joseph’s Outpatient Center, Room 5A-B, Wauwatosa. For more information, e-mail Jeanne Braby; jbraby@chw.org.

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Region 5 Leadership Conference: A Chance to Celebrate

Members from several chapters often gather at a regional meeting to share the work they have done and celebrate their successes. Following is a review from the Region 5 (North Carolina and South Carolina) Leadership Conference.

The Region 5 Leadership Conference was held Nov. 1, 2008 and was a great success with eight chapters represented. Chapter leaders from North and South Carolina shared their ideas and concerns. Mary Holtschneider, RN, BC, BSN, MPA, NREMT-P, former AACN board member, and Susan Helms, RN, MSN, CCRN, PCCN, immediate past AACN Certification Corporation board member, spoke on Healthy Work Environments, while Beth Martin, RN, MSN, CCNS, ACNP, AACN Certification Corporation chair, inspired everyone to obtain and maintain their certification. Martin also talked about advance directives and end-of-life issues, with several of the attendees sharing their own experiences.

Jan Teal, RN, MSN, CCRN, Chapter Advisory Team co-lead, provided valuable information about chapter governance and chapter officer roles. There were many questions and lots of networking during this portion of the day. Linda Thomas, RN, MS, MSN, CCRN, Region 5 chapter adviser, was animated and informative about the younger generation and how to engage them as well as communicate and reward all generations.

During lunchtime, Region 5 leaders recognized a brand-new Beacon Unit, along with two other chapters with members who work in Beacon Units.

In addition to the latest AACN updates, the conference provided continuing education with “Sedation in the ICU” presented by Amanda Peacock (a local AACN member), and “Saving Lives and Avoiding Costs in Post-Op Patients” presented by Susan Bruey (clinical program manager for Nihon Kohden America, Inc.).

It was a great day and the participants had a wonderful time. Some of the attendees’ comments were: “The best thing about today’s meeting was learning more about the national organization and networking with members from chapters within the region. I was encouraged to also attend NTI and I was overall inspired by the unity displayed at today’s conference.” Others added that they enjoyed meeting nurses from other areas they would not have met without these meetings. “Networking and meeting others, hearing different ideas and receiving updates on practice and product issues were very valuable,” participants reported.

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Two Chapters – The Journey Continues (Part 3 of a 3-part series)

Susanne Wheeler, RN, MSN, CNS, CCRN, immediate past president, Wabash Valley Chapter

Jennifer Zettl, RN, BSN, CCRN, immediate past president, Central Wyoming Chapter

Clareen Wiencek, PhD, ACNP, Chapter Advisory Team co-lead

The strategies that helped launch two of AACN’s newest chapters, the Wabash Valley Chapter in Terre Haute, Ind. and the Central Wyoming Chapter in Casper, Wyo., were described in the October and December 2008 issues of AACN News. Some of these strategies include building membership through personal contact, mentoring by established AACN chapters, diligent use of the AACN Web site, and support and guidance offered by the chapter specialist and regional chapter adviser. This third article in a three-part series focuses on the messages gleaned from the first year of chapter existence and shared in the ongoing journey of chapter governance.

Both founding presidents, Susanne Wheeler of Wabash Valley and Jennifer Zettl of Central Wyoming, learned that sharing responsibilities among the board of directors, fostering effective communication and keeping the vision were essential to maintaining momentum during and beyond that critical first year. They strongly recommend that chapter leaders own the whole chapter governance process including attention to the due dates for financial reports. Wheeler recommends that the president and president-elect be familiar with the treasurer’s duties and set standards for completing quarterly reports. Attention to small but critical details such as ensuring that chapter members are members of national and following an agenda for business meetings were nitty-gritty lessons in shared responsibility. In addition, communication among the board of directors was critical to both chapters in their inaugural year. As for all AACN chapters, effective communication is key to conducting business and sustaining a vital chapter.
However, Zettl counsels that “it is not just about the books and the nitty-gritty but also about keeping the vision as to why the chapter formed in the first place.” While most AACN chapters are established with the goal of meeting the educational needs of critical and progressive care nurses in their area, other activities such as community service, networking nights and fundraisers can divert resources. Zettl recommends that new chapter leaders follow the original vision for their AACN chapter and stay focused and realistic about resources, even if it means “deferring loftier goals until membership and momentum are established.”

Finally, both former presidents have words of wisdom to share about their pivotal first year. They urge new chapters to reach out for help. For example, the Wabash Valley Chapter invited a national speaker to their first symposium, and surprisingly the speaker agreed to present. “Who would have thought that our little chapter could have done that?” Wheeler commented. Zettl turned to the wisdom in “Influencer: The Power to Change Anything” by Kerry Patterson, et al, and recommends that new chapter leaders use the book to identify their own talents. As Wheeler added, “Even the smallest person can make a difference; sometimes you just need to take that first step.” So, in retrospect, forming and sustaining a new AACN chapter was a journey for the Wabash Valley and Central Wyoming chapters – a series of steps driven by vision and supported by helping hands along the way.

There are many resources available to current chapters and those considering starting a chapter. Visit www.aacn.org > Community > Chapters, or contact us at chapters@aacn.org or toll-free at (800) 394-5995, ext. 365 or 313.

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