President's Award: Greater East Texas Chapter

After thoughtful dialogue, we discovered our chapter was stuck. Our chapter meeting demographics were composed of an expert nurse and an occasional drop-in novice nurse.

We needed more involvement from our colleagues; our meetings had not changed in 26 years. Monthly: Speaker, lecture, business meeting, beg people to be officers annually and adjourn.

Our communication had transformed from bathroom posts to email, but emails were returned or never opened. Following NTI, the AACN theme of Dare To resounded with the chapter members: 

  • “We need to Dare To change our chapter.”
  • “We need to Dare To lead and transition our chapter differently.”
  • “We need to Dare To communicate about the chapter in a new and exciting way.”
  • “We need to Dare To create an accessible, attractive and exciting chapter.”
     

Let’s Dare To change: Using the AACN Standards for Establishing and Sustaining Healthy Work Environments (HWEs) as the framework to evaluate and map change, chapter officers embarked on a journey of discovery to get the chapter unstuck.

We asked, “Why don’t people come to chapter meetings?” As dialogue progressed a new question was raised, “Why aren’t we (the chapter) attractive to potential members?”

This conversation spurred discussions about how to dare ourselves to become more relevant, attractive and maybe even sexy to potential members.

We were reminded by the youngest member of the board why we chose acute/critical care nursing. It is cool, exciting and even sexy.

Our chapter president dared us to set a new paradigm where the chapter is not a meeting or place, but the chapter is people. The chapter officers reviewed and affirmed the chapter mission and vision.

The mission is to serve as a resource for opportunities to prepare nurses to care for a diverse population of patients and families. Our vision is to promote nursing through collaborative efforts among healthcare professionals, healthcare organizations and the community.

Our mission of “preparing nurses” meant providing education. In light of the HWE standards, we now considered the challenge of developing skilled communication, which requires interaction among members.

During the HWE standards review, an exchange occurred between an advanced practice nurse and a novice nurse with vastly different perspectives on communicating changes in patient condition.

Using crucial conversation skills, chapter leaders facilitated a discussion that achieved a shared understanding that the advanced practice nurse has a responsibility to role model and coach, while the new nurse has a responsibility to have data ready when calling to participate in true collaboration.

We dared to create time for conversations about practice issues instead of providing continuing nursing education hours. Now, we review journal articles and discuss practice guidelines.

In February 2013, we had 27 attendees: student nurses, newly licensed nurses and advanced practice nurses. They shared ideas about future chapter accessibility, and using this data we created a chapter accessibility change plan including a website redesign to be completed by June 30, 2013.

Let’s Dare To lead and transition chapter leadership differently: Historically, transitions occurred sporadically and often with mixed results. Guided by the standard for effective decision-making, the president used national AACN resources for chapter transition, strategic goal setting and planning.

Our board set two strategic goals to guide our daring spirit:

  1. Create an exciting and accessible identity for the chapter.
  2. Communicate socially.

These goals are on every meeting agenda along with the Dare To theme art.

Dare To communicate about the chapter in a new and exciting way: During strategic planning and chapter meeting dialogue, members discussed recruitment and communication for the younger generation of nurses. Effective staffing for a chapter means having enough members actively involved to continually renew the leadership and committees.

We needed social visibility to attract members, and social media is the most effective way to create community. A new GET AACN Facebook page (www.facebook.com/getaacn) was launched featuring the president’s Dare To theme art. A Twitter account @GET-AACN was created and linked to the Facebook page to create cross posting.

Meeting invitations and announcements are posted on Facebook/Twitter letting our “likers” spread the word. Leveraging social networking is improving GET AACN’s visibility.

Chapter officers evaluate the effectiveness of communicating in a new and exciting way and create an accessible chapter by using demographic and insight data from Facebook. The friend list and associated demographics help us know who is interested in GET AACN.

Important lessons are being learned from Facebook insights. The “likes” and “friends” are the most important element. The chapter’s reach increases exponentially based on the numbers of “friends” each “like” has.

We must post frequently to keep conversations going. People interact with the chapter in response to postings, so we post daily to be accessible.

We provide meaningful recognition through Facebook by recognizing nurses who achieve certification or awards. Spikes in daily total reach occurred when pictures of nurses receiving certification pins were posted.

Our reach is significantly lower in one of the local facilities, so we will target efforts to reach more of that facility’s nurses.

Chapter leaders demonstrate authentic leadership by evaluating their processes and decisions. In changing the leadership perspective we engage members where they are and hold continuing conversations with members.

We have taken up the challenge of Dare To. We Dare To make the chapter accessible, attractive and exciting. We Dare To communicate socially and recognize our members. We Dare To grow GET AACN by daring to change.