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A Magnetic conference

By: Susan Trossman, RN

Thousands of nurses learn and share strategies to improve care and work environments

Positive human connections are vital to quality healthcare and work environments, according to speaker Charles Kunkle, MSN, CEN, CCRN, BC-NA, a nursing leader focused on empowering and engaging bedside care providers. And his message clearly resonated with the more than 10,500 nurses and other stakeholders gathered for the ANCC National Magnet Conference® this fall.

“Why did you choose healthcare?” Kunkle asked. “I understand how physically demanding, emotionally draining, and, at times, dangerous it can be. I chose it because it gave me a sense of purpose, and nursing has not disappointed. You can make a difference every day. It allows you to help bring life into the world—and peace and comfort to someone leaving it.”

His general session presentation—just one of count-less opportunities available to attendees to learn, share, and be inspired—lived up to the Magnet conference’s theme: “Educate. Innovate. Celebrate.”

Welcoming and motivating

Opera Orlando kicked off the conference by drawing nurses in with a Zen-like duet and a comedic performance of a fast-paced aria from “The Barber of Seville” accompanied by a video of practicing nurses moving in fast motion to the music.

ANA Enterprise leaders then formally welcomed attendees to the largest ever gathering of clinical nurses in the United States and laid out the upcoming days’ events.

“I guarantee you will leave Orlando more fulfilled and rejuvenated than ever,” said ANA Enterprise Chief Ex-ecutive Officer Loressa Cole, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE. She and Rebecca Graystone, MS, MBA, RN, NE-BC, vice president, Magnet Recognition® and Pathway to Excellence® Programs, also paid tribute to nurse researchers who over 30 years ago investigated the key factors that influence well-qualified nurses to be attracted to and remain working in healthcare facilities.

In her general session presentation, best-selling author Gretchen Rubin shared her “Four Tendencies” framework, which looks at how people respond to a request or an order and how understanding those four personality traits can help create better work environments. She detailed the four tendencies (up-holder, questioner, obliger, and rebel), noting each tendency’s strengths and weaknesses and asking conference-goers to determine which trait best captures them.

For example, the most common type is the obliger, which Rubin described as being associated with great leaders and team members. But obligers tend to put aside their own needs and expectations, such as engaging in self-care, unless someone or something holds them accountable.“We all have much to offer each other,” Rubin said. “When we know ourselves and each other better, we can be happier, healthier, and more productive.”

In his session, Kunkle shared his concerns about healthcare turn-ing into a business and the practically in-surmountable list of tasks nurses face that are fueled, in part, by reimbursement issues and new regulations. Because of projected nursing shortages, on-going retention issues, and limited financial resources, Kunkle noted that nurse leaders must do their best to engage and empower their multigenerational staff by understanding their strengths and needs. He also spoke of the importance of nurse leaders being approachable to staff and self-reflective, as well as being focused on creating a value-based culture.

Kunkle closed by saying, “I have faith in who we are as a profession, and that we can survive anything that is thrown at us. But we must care for our [nurses], the caregivers. If we don’t, who will?”

The final general session speaker, global traveler and philanthropist Leon Logothetis, provided an emotionally impactful presentation as he shared stories of his many journeys and the kindness of strangers he met along the way.

He also spoke of being bullied in school when he was young, and how one teacher made a critical difference by showing him kindness, believing in him, and providing positive reinforcement.

“To change the world, all you have to do is touch one life,” said Logothetis. “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my teacher. And there are patients who wouldn’t be here if it were not for you. The most beautiful thing you as nurses can give to your patients is to see them. It changes everything.”

Acknowledging nursing excellence

American Nurses Association (ANA) President Ernest Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN, recognized attendees’ dedication to excellence and acknowledged the magnitude and celebratory aspect of the Magnet conference. He also briefly described the 2020 “Year of the Nurse,” a U.S. campaign that’s part of a global effort to highlight nurses’ impact on patients, families, and communities.

“We encourage all nurses to engage in activities [held throughout 2020],” Grant said. “I promise it will be an unforgettable year.”

ANCC President Patricia Reid Ponte, DNSc, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, noted the shared vision and common goals of the ANA Enterprise, Magnet, and Pathway organizations, and nurses who work in those facilities to ensure high-quality care.

“There’s a reason that even in these pressure-packed, rapidly changing times, nursing is the number one most trusted profession in America,” she said. “And that reason is you.”

Nurses also had opportunities to gain knowledge through some 140 poster presentations and 70-plus concurrent sessions, which focused on critical topics such as improving the float pool experience, addressing workplace violence, and ensuring pain control.

Celebrating and interacting

Attendees celebrated the winners of the 2019 Magnet awards and witnessed the festive parade of nurses from 128 newly and re-designated Magnet facilities. They also viewed a touching video honoring military and Veterans Affairs nurses; recognized DAISY Foundation co-founders Bonnie and Mark Barnes; explored exhibit booths showcasing technology, products, and services; and engaged in an evening at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and other events.

Tiffany Cox, RN, a clinical coordinator in the intensive care unit at Memorial Hermann Pearlman Hospital in Texas, was among the attendees whose goal was to bring everything she learned throughout the conference to nurses back home.

“There were definitely a lot of inspirational presentations,” said Cox, a member of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, an organizational affiliate of ANA. She particularly enjoyed Kunkle’s positivity and his strategies to improve staff recognition programs.

“I really like reconnecting with so many people I’ve met over the years in nursing,” said Jen Schroeter, DNP, RN, MLHR, director of Nursing Innovation and Performance Development, Allegheny Health Network, and a Pennsylvania State Nurses Association member. She found the research shared on managers and their competencies to be informative and relevant, given the need to support those in this challenging role.

The next Magnet conference will be held October 7-9, 2020, in Atlanta, Georgia.

— Susan Trossman is a writer-editor at ANA.

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