President’s Award: Greater Rochester Area Finger Lakes

Each year, as the new AACN theme is introduced at NTI, chapter officers and members alike experience a renewed sense of pride to be involved with such a great organization.

Attending NTI is invigorating and challenges us to improve our practice. Unlike any other theme, the 2012 Dare To theme has inspired the GRAFL chapter officers.

As in the past, the annual theme has been used as artwork. The logo is frequently used for chapter communications and also in advertising educational events.

All communication to chapter members now includes the theme in art and in word. Monthly chapter meetings are advertised on Dare To themed documents.

Our biannual chapter newsletter also incorporates the theme in art and word. Many of the updates passed along in the newsletter incorporated the theme, but one really stood out.

In her first message to the membership, our president challenged everyone to ask themselves how they Dare To. Additionally, she challenged the membership to bring these Dare To stories to each of our meetings so that everyone in attendance would know how we all Dare To.

This has been a very successful initiative. At each meeting, at least one member has shared his or her Dare To story, which has been very inspiring.

Stories have included completing a graduate degree while working and undergoing treatment for chemotherapy, being inspired to pursue more education after an NTI, daring to become certified, daring to be the first GRAFL student liaison and daring to change practice at the bedside.

The annual theme is very apparent at the meetings and not just because of the Dare To stories. The theme is incorporated in the monthly president’s address, again in art and in word.

The address discusses chapter business, recognizes member achievements and makes general announcements. This year, the chapter leadership was happy to announce that we dared to apply for a chapter award and won!

Our speakers also incorporate the theme in their presentations. Because the theme is so well disseminated, each GRAFL member is able to discuss what it means to Dare To.

Annually, GRAFL presents a one-day conference for the acute and critical care community in the region. Traditionally, the theme has been integrated into the registration brochure and also the introductory remarks.

Carrying on a new tradition, the conference is renamed each year to reflect the theme. In 2011, the conference was Linkages: Standing Tall With Collaboration.

The theme for 2012 was integrated as Linkages: Together. Stronger. Bolder. Nurses Helping Others. This year’s theme has been selected as Linkages: Daring to Be the Best.

This is a great tradition and really shapes the types of presentations selected. This year the officers added another layer to theme integration: The theme is included in the majority of the presentations.

Titles that stand out include “The Ultimate Dare to … Integrating Palliative Care and Critical Care” and “Current Issues & Political Advocacy in Nursing: Daring to Be at the Table.”

Additionally, four chapter members will share their personal Dare To stories throughout the day. As chapter leaders, we believe this tradition will also be carried on.

As a chapter, we have Dared To increase member certification (CCRN and PCCN) and have partnered with local hospitals. We were able to increase chapter certification from 35.5 percent to 47.3 percent in two years, which occurred with an increase in chapter membership.

This year we’re daring to take it further with the 2012 GRAFL Dare to Get Certified Campaign. The chapter will be offering a CCRN/PCCN review course at a reduced rate for members who attend the course and also register for the exam through our certification coordinator.

In addition, those who register will be asked to name their biggest certification supporter, and both nurses will be entered to win a prize. We hope this will inspire members who are currently certified to help others Dare To become certified critical care and progressive care nurses.

The final integration of the theme occurs as we Dare To send chapter members to NTI. The membership is asked to compete in the annual Paula Pitnell NTI Scholarship Essay Contest.

Paula was a long-term GRAFL member, who recently died. Paula Dared To be an exemplary critical care nurse throughout her career, and this scholarship truly keeps her inspiration alive.

In order to compete for the scholarship, members must submit an essay that integrates AACN’s core values and also describes how they integrate the theme into their current practice. This year, seven essays were submitted.

Two lucky winners will attend NTI this May to be inspired by next year’s theme. The chapter will bring it full circle again, back to the members, and will continue to inspire them to live the theme.