GVSU Student Nurses' Association sends members to annual conference in San Diego
Grand Valley State University's Student Nurses' Association (SNA) is sending a group of students to the 35th annual MidYear Career Planning Conference sponsored by the National Student Nurses' Association from Thursday, Nov. 2, to Sunday, Nov. 5, in San Diego, California.
SNA is a student-run organization that helps immerse students into the world of nursing through presentations, group meetings and hands-on activities. The club is known for holding multiple fundraisers, such as "Operation Christmas Child," a fundraiser to send gifts to children in Third-World countries, which will take place later this semester. The club has been recognized for its dedication to service and was given multiple awards just last semester by the Michigan Nursing Students Association (MNSA).
The club is unique as it meets the standards for both statewide and national student nurses' associations.
“SNA is also a chapter of the National Student Nurses’ Association and the Michigan Nursing Association,” said Taylor Teitsma, SNA vice president. “We try to be super involved on a local, global and national level, which is really cool.”
There are two national conventions and one local convention per year that a select number of members are invited to attend. Though location, speakers and topics presented at each conference will vary, one consistent topic of discussion will be nursing specialties and how to improve test scores on the national nursing exam, the NCLEX.
“A lot of the speakers are national nursing leaders," Teitsma said. "There are workshops and poster presentation opportunities, so the topics are usually similar (year to year), but everything is completely different depending on who they have speaking.
"They're all unique, and they're all phenomenal learning experiences for nursing students, and I am so excited to be a part of it.”
The SNA student board meets before every conference to discuss the budget and to select the members who will attend based on grades, member presentation and dedication to the field.
“We have created an application that follows (the) bylines (set by the NSNA),” Teitsma said. “It takes into account have you been to the national convention before, what cohort or graduating group are you in, are you (a part of) the board of directors, how involved are you in SNA. ... We have some essays that we write, just generally asking why they’d like to go, and we also have some forms they need to fill out. They have to get approval from their professors and clinical instructors.”
This year, there is a total of 12 students attending the upcoming conference in San Diego.
Fourth-year student Brynn Rohloff has been a member of SNA for two semesters and will be attending the conference for the first time this year.
“This conference is a career conference, so there (are) a lot of different panels going on about different types of nursing, and I am really looking forward to attending those panels,” Rohloff said. “There are specialty nursing panels going on, and I think am looking forward to the newborn nursing one. ... I don’t know what (area of nursing) I want to end up (pursuing), and so a lot of (what they have to offer interests me).
"I think it’s important to see more than just the classroom or more than just the clinical experience you may have as nursing students.”
According to the conference's website, the upcoming MidYear Conference is based on career planning, and topics will include “Service and Impact Beyond the Bedside Engaging” and faculty workshops such as “Malnutrition and the Hospitalized Adult: Essential Considerations in Identification and Management.” One of the presenters at the conference will be GVSU SNA President Jamie Platt.
Platt has been a member of SNA since 2015 and has been president of GVSU’s SNA chapter since 2016. As she heads into her last semester at the university, this will be her third conference.
In April 2017, Platt ran in the election for the position of northern election area representative for the NSNA Nominating and Elections Committee and was successfully elected.
In this role, she presents at two workshops a year where she talks about how to run for a national position and the qualifications the committee is looking for in candidates. She also attends an event called the "Council of State Presidents." At this event, NSNA presidents from each state come together to collaborate on ideas for improvement with the NSNA and participate in a roundtable discussion.
Through this position, Platt has gained a lot of experience speaking on behalf of the NSNA.
“I presented at last year's MidYear Conference on a different topic,” Platt said. “The NSNA has a magazine called Imprint, and I was one of the two column reporters they had. I wrote about what different Student Nurses' Associations around the country were doing. I was the 'happenings reporter' and presented about what I was doing at that time at their communications workshop for SNAs.”
Platt also spoke for the NSNA in April at the national convention in Texas and in July at the NSNA leadership conference in New York. At the leadership conference, she was able to give the same presentation she will be doing at this year’s MidYear Conference, speaking about the qualifications needed to become an NSNA member.
“(In) the nomination and elections committee, our goal is to work with students across the country and find the best student candidates for each position that is up for election,” Platt said. “The elections take place in the spring. So at this particular conference, my goal is to meet students and talk to them about the benefits of running for a national position, what it means to be a leader in the nursing profession and how to bolster your leadership skills for the future after graduation.”
Upon the group's return from the conference, they will be putting together a presentation to inform the other GVSU members of SNA about what they learned at the conference.
“When students come back from convention, we really like them to come up with some sort of presentation,” Teitsma said. “We like to have them present it to either the student nursing association or the association's general meeting, sometimes to the cohort, just so everyone in the nursing program can hear about how this convention went.”
These programs are vital to the education of the nursing students at GVSU because they allow the students to meet people outside GVSU’s campus who are passionate about their field. They are also able to see many different things they are capable of doing with a nursing degree.
“When you go to a convention, you are meeting people from across the country; everybody is super passionate about what they do, and what I’ve noticed from past conventions is a lot of our students come back really excited to be in the nursing profession but also excited that they are a part of the Student Nurses’ Association,” Platt said. “They are able to see what an impact we can have at our school, in the community and across the nation.
"It’s really neat for our students to look at what they can do on a bigger level as a nursing student. ... There is so much you can really do with it, and some of the workshops help students realize what their passion is.”