Last weekend, I went to the NSNA Career Planning Conference as a representative for the Maryland Association of Nursing Students Board of Directors. It took a good deal of planning and organizing to get me there, but I made it. The conference was in Memphis, and having never been to Memphis before, I was really excited to see the city and to meet other nursing students from around the country. And let’s be honest, I wanted to face-plant myself into some famous Memphis BBQ. It was a jam-packed three days full of career planning, networking with hospitals such as UCLA and The Mayo Clinic, and listening to presentations.
The highlight, for me, was hearing Dr. Karen Daley speak. Dr. Daley was an ER nurse in Boston for nearly 30 years until she was stuck by a needle in 1998 and subsequently infected with both HIV and Hepatitis C. She shared her journey with us: how she felt when she got stuck, her reaction to her diagnosis, and her resolve and determination to make change and to protect current and future nurses from getting stuck. Dr. Daley has spent the last decade as an advocate for nurse safety and preventing needlestick injuries, and many of the safety instruments we have in hospitals now, like safety needles for giving injections, are the result of her efforts. It was a truly inspiring story, and I’m thankful at the chance to have met her.
The other sessions that I attended were incredibly helpful, and I particularly enjoyed touring the exhibit halls to learn about the other schools and healthcare facilities that were there. It made me realize that, wow, the end is near, and I need to start getting my resume together and looking for jobs! I was also able to sit in on sessions where I learned about marketing myself in a tough job market, how to ace nursing exams, and how to recruit future nurses into the profession. Not only that, I made new friends with other students from around the country. One student even came up to me after seeing my JHU bag and wanted to know about the school and what she needed to do to apply! It was nice to talk to them and learn about their programs, and I invited them to come to our the Maryland Association of Nursing Students State Convention, which will be January 28, 2012 (MARK YOUR CALENDARS!). All in all, it was a positive experience, and I’m glad that I was able to take part in the convention.