Last week I had the incredible opportunity to attend the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA) Convention in Nashville, TN. What an amazing experience! There were over 3000 nursing students from all over the world in attendance. All of these students were excited, motivated, and ready to take on the world! These students are already engaged in their professional association (NSNA) and were very interested to hear about what ENA had to offer them as student members. I spent three days at the ENA booth in the exhibit hall with members of the Tennessee State Council and ENA staff. The team at the booth engaged with each and every student who came by and answered every single question. It was inspiring to watch the passion and enthusiasm about emergency nursing shared by our team and the students that came by.
In addition to meeting students individually in the exhibit hall, I had the opportunity to address these student nurses twice. The first opportunity was as part of a panel discussion on errors and adverse events. The questions the students asked of the panelists were thought provoking, insightful, and provided great ideas and innovations to create error free work environments. At the end of the session, I was approached by at least 20 students who wanted to engage in a further discussion of safety in the ED. Seriously? These students were so engaged and ready to take on the world. I couldn’t help but feel proud and excited at the same time!
The second opportunity to address these students came as I presented two sessions on what it means to be an emergency nurse. Now, I knew going in this was going to be a popular session. The room that holds 650 people was packed, twice. No gory pictures, and honestly, no war stories. Instead, I shared my passion for emergency nursing. There is no other place in the healthcare system that takes care of anyone and everyone who walks in the door, regardless of who they are, where they came from, or how much money they have, 24 hours a day, seven days per week. I discussed how many opportunities there were in emergency nursing, including geriatrics, pediatrics, forensics, EMS, flight, case management, and leadership. I talked about the fact that the number of times my actions have made a direct life and death difference for a patient in the last 20 years was small, but that as an emergency nurse you have the opportunity to make a difference in a patient’s life each and every day. And, wow, did this group inspire me.
Here is a group of engaged, excited, enthusiastic, and eager budding emergency nurses. They are desperate to join us in our chosen profession and bring a passion to our departments that many of us may have forgotten along the way. They are dedicated to making a difference, and will work hard to become skilled emergency nurses. What they need most is mentoring, support and guidance along the way.
For those of you who work with these students, thank you! They are the future of our profession, and I know they very much appreciate the opportunity for mentorship and support. Whether it’s at an ENA meeting, in your department, in the hallway, at an educational opportunity, or at dinner (yes, I have run into budding emergency nurses everywhere), take the time to meet these future nurses. Be a mentor to them. Encourage them to ask questions and seek out the answers (they are awesome at reviewing evidence). Invite them to participate in projects and initiatives. Bring them to a conference, whether it’s local, state or national. Welcome them into our profession. After all, they are the ones who will be taking care of us. After last week, I have no doubt the future of emergency nursing is in great hands!
Thanks to Mona, Holly, Randy, Barbara, and Donna from the Tennessee State Council and Lindsay from ENA for all of your great work! Your passion, dedication, and enthusiasm for the emergency nursing profession was not only clearly evident, but inspired more than 160 new members of our association! And thanks to NSNA for the opportunity to speak to your members. And to all of the nursing students out there who can’t image any place else they would rather work than the emergency department, welcome to the profession! You are our future, and we are incredibly fortunate to have you!