First Scholars Network Leadership Conference Series Is a Hit!

The NCIN Scholars Network was launched in 2012 to combine and engage the diverse skills, backgrounds, and education of all NCIN scholars to benefit nursing students, nurses, and to serve a culturally diverse patient population. In 2013, the Network held the very first of a series of Scholars Network Leadership Conferences that continued into spring of this year.

The series was to provide a forum in which scholars and alumni could: explore common challenges and opportunities when making a career transition to the nursing profession as a new graduate, identify opportunities for continued professional growth and development; identify key requirements when building a career path; and network with colleagues in discussion groups on professional practice topics of interest.

The first conference was held in Omaha, Nebraska in September 2013. Subsequent conferences were held in Chicago, Illinois; Birmingham, Alabama; and New York City. These first four regional conferences were extremely well-attended and featured leaders in nursing, nursing education and health care who lead sessions on a broad range of key topics, including the Affordable Care Act, doctoral advancement in nursing, leadership, the job market, and more.
Amy Cosimano, EdD, RN, assistant professor and assistant dean for Student Affairs at Creighton University, worked with students at Creighton University, Nebraska Methodist College (NMC), and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), who organized the Omaha conference.

“It’s important for the NCIN scholars to learn and hear about nursing leadership throughout their programs, said Cosimano. “As second-degree students, many have already had leadership positions and valuable life experiences; they are often a perfect fit for leadership positions. We hope that our conference provided a valuable forum for students to gain expertise and “pearls of wisdom” from leaders and to engage in meaningful discussion regarding relevant topics in health care.”

Blake Smith, RN, BSN, an NCIN alumnus and graduate of the accelerated BSN program at Nebraska Methodist College, was instrumental in creating the Scholars Network and in organizing the first conference.

“These conferences give the opportunity for future nursing leaders to collaborate while having current leadership facilitate the discussion and serve as an expert resource,” said Smith.  “Early professional learning opportunities such as this conference, will ensure their success as future leaders of nursing.”

Heidy Merius, RN, BSN, who completed the accelerated BSN program at Stony Brook University and is currently working in the Cerebral/Vascular Center at Stony Brook attended the conference in New York City, which was held at NYU.

Merius was recently accepted into NCIN’s Doctoral Advancement in Nursing program. She said she was interested in attending the conference because, “I hadn’t been to an RWJF conference before and I wanted to get an enhanced view of what’s going on in nursing and learn more about the impact of things like the Affordable Care Act on health care.”

She was not disappointed.

“An important theme throughout the conference was how nursing would change because of the Affordable Care Act,” she said. “I learned that I need to get more educated about those changes, read the Institute of Medicine report on the future of nursing, and prepare myself to take on the challenges that we’ll face in nursing as more people come into our health care system. I need to help carry the banner for nursing.”

Gaea Daniel, who will graduate from the NCIN program and the Georgia Regents University College of Nursing in December, attended the conference in Birmingham, Alabama.  “The conference really exceeded my expectations,” she said. “I was very impressed by the caliber of the speakers. We were hearing from a chief nursing officer and other leaders in their fields. And each of them had something to offer based on their own vast experience. They had all lived what they were talking about.”

NCIN and the Scholars Network plan to hold more Leadership Conferences next year and will announce the dates as details are confirmed.