A Community of Exceptional Nurses
In 1989, in a small Oregon town, a critical care nurse had the ingenious idea of starting a local chapter of AACN. The Pacific Crest Regional Chapter (PCRC) became a chapter without walls. Nurses from local hospitals joined forces, putting the emphasis on collaboration and educational networking. Nurses bridged the gap, shared ideas, educated and supported each other. PCRC strongly believes in sharing knowledge with our community through educational opportunities. PCRC embraces the mission, values and vision of AACN, as we demonstrate our commitment and passion for nursing. This is our story.
The PCRC offers two educational conferences a year. At each conference, we offer a 50/50 drawing. Half the winnings go to the winning ticket, and the other half is donated by PCRC to a local charity, such as The Humane Society, The Community Health Center and Helping Hands — a disaster relief group. A local skate park has also been the recipient of our support.
In June 2009, at our strategic planning meeting, members recognized a need to reach farther into the community where we could truly represent critical care nurses and provide community education. In December 2009, the idea of collaborating with local hospitals to provide community stroke education sprouted. The concept blossomed, and we enthusiastically seized this opportunity as a way to attain our goal of providing community stroke awareness education.
We hoped to partner with local hospitals to help defray costs for equipment, handouts and other materials required to reach our goals. We hit the jackpot when a local hospital, Providence Medford Medical Center (PMMC), saw our vision and believed in our potential. PMMC embraced the opportunity to become partners in our stroke education campaign, providing us with a laptop computer, refrigerator magnets, bookmarks and informational handouts to share during stroke education presentations. Believe in us — we can do the rest!
While the collaboration piece fell into place, the PCRC brainstormed which groups and organizations to provide the stroke education. We envisioned reaching people of all ages, and realized we could adapt our presentation to meet the group’s learning needs. We shared ideas of groups and organizations we could present to, and like wildfire, the list grew, fanned by excitement. As with any goal set, it’s study, train and practice!
The PCRC was fortunate to have strong support from local neurologists. One neurologist is the medical director for the stroke programs for the local hospitals, and he agreed to share his expertise with us. In February 2010, he gave our chapter members a train-the-trainer class, using a PowerPoint outline and lecture, and opened it up for question-and-answer discussion. He focused on key points to teach the public about stroke recognition.
This class was followed by another train-the-trainer class, presented by a chapter member, outlining the specific highlights we would teach the community. To date, we’ve provided 14 educational opportunities to our community, with a total of 322 participants — including a large rotary group, a booth at the mall and a high school youth church camp. We were encouraged by the community feedback as it has been positive, supportive and a strong affirmation of our commitment to excellence. Armed with this, we forge on.
Our goal for our stroke education program was to emphasize the important message of stroke awareness. Like heart attack awareness, our message was the same for strokes. "Don't wait. Call 911!" There are many nationally recognized topics such as heart disease, breast cancer awareness and "Don't Drink and Drive" — which communities across America have learned and added to their knowledge base. We envisioned our stroke education spreading through the community, and expected stroke awareness to become one of those daily topics. I know — maybe it‘s a stretch, but as critical care nurses, we’re capable of anything!
With PMMC, we were able to get our stroke awareness message on two radio shows. Each radio show had approximately 1,250 listeners. These collaborative efforts also allowed us access to two local television news programs, where we reached our community in their living rooms. Our communication about significant stroke recognition facts reached a total of 72,000 people from the two television station viewing areas.
Our community stroke education project allowed us to reach approximately 74,822 people, and we’re gaining momentum. We found it beneficial to collaborate with PMMC and were blessed our vision was supported. This encouragement fostered our sense of unity as a chapter, allowing us to use our nursing skills for community education. Whether at the bedside or in a presentation, our message was the same: we care; we teach; we can.
At NTI 2010 in Washington, D.C., someone was introduced who seemed somewhat nondescript, washed out, but powerful. Stan Tall, a paper doll, so to speak, who we would decorate and color, and who’d attend our chapter meetings, stroke education opportunities, even a shift on the unit. But, that’s not all. Stan Tall was also to accompany us on our everyday lives, representing our pride as critical care nurses and reminding us we’re exceptional. PCRC sincerely grasps the values of AACN, and utilizes them in our everyday practice.
From a small group of nurses who started our chapter to now — and what we can be — we’re empowered by AACN, our communities and each other and our amazing achievements toward a common goal. Our chapter is small, but mighty. Just watch as we knock our community stroke education out of the park and score a home run!
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