Like Being at the Grammys

Mar 07, 2018

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It’s absolutely essential that there are people out there who donate to help nurses who want to get an education but can’t afford it.

Jill Herrig

For Jill Herrig, attending the National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition (NTI) for the first time was like being a rock star.

“My first time at NTI was very exciting,” she says. “It was in Washington, D.C., and everything was so professional and beautiful, I couldn’t believe it. It was like being at the Grammys or something.”

Jill, an RN at UnityPoint Health-Finley Hospital in Dubuque, Iowa, liked NTI so much that she has become an advocate for it at her hospital, encouraging other nurses to attend.

“I thought it was such a wonderful experience, and I want others to have that experience,” she says. “I want our younger nurses to feel what I feel. I’m always talking about the knowledge I gained at NTI.”

Jill also feels fortunate to be one of the recipients of the NTI scholarships last year, which helped her to attend again. In fact, she was overjoyed.

“Attending NTI means a lot to me,” she says. “I have the fever. Scholarship or not, I was going to go.”

Jill felt so fortunate about her good luck that she committed to sharing everything she learned and experienced with her team — and she didn’t even wait until returning to begin sharing. Daily during NTI, she posted pictures and videos to her work group’s Facebook page with the topics and ideas she found most relevant to the care they provide in their 10-bed general ICU.

“We have a closed page,” she says, “and I thought that was my best way to get the info back to everyone here. Many of them are younger than I am, and I thought that would be the best way to reach them. Every day, I shot out the information that I thought would be of interest to them.”

Upon returning home after NTI, she was greeted with inquiries about the information she had gained during her NTI experience. So, she shared her NTI schedule, program and Expo guide with her co-workers and educator so that they could let her know which sessions they were interested in hearing (if they were taped) or the PowerPoint presentations they would like to review.

“I presented at staff meetings,” she says. “I also gathered photos, articles and promotional info I had picked up and left them in the break room for others to look at.”

The experience reinforced for her the importance of young nurses attending NTI to acquire new knowledge and celebrate their profession with 7,000 other nurses. She’s doing all she can do to try to allow more of her co-workers attend.

“I work on a committee with members of the hospital foundation,” she says. “I’m thinking of possibly visiting the foundation to see if they would be able to sponsor some nurses to go. The experience would stay with them for the rest of their careers.”

And she remains grateful for AACN donors who made it possible for her to attend NTI again: “It’s absolutely essential that there are people out there who donate to help nurses who want to get an education but can’t afford it.”

Jill remains optimistic that her encouragement and the generosity of AACN donors will help more of her colleagues attend NTI.

“Someone I know is already putting in for a scholarship for this year,” she says. “I’m helping her with the application.”