• Feeling the Feels Through Education, Networking and Advocacy

    I'm in the midst of a two-week coast-to-coast journey because I can make a difference in the lives and professional practices of others. From a TNCC course in Columbus to a multi-topic symposium in San Francisco to a final stop in Austin, for this year's Emergency Nursing conference. I find it mind boggling that, as different as these climates can be (politically, socially and meteorologically), there is a comforting warmth and sense of belonging is all of these places. 

    Can you see the common thread? Look back at the title of this message - Education, Networking, Advocacy. ENA. As an emergency nurse, I have the opportunity through my professional organization to share in the knowledge, experiences and camaraderie. I've learned clinically from the brightest minds in the field. I've been mentored by some of the greatest leaders on the face of the earth. And I've had people just like me from all over the country open their homes and their hearts to me because, through ENA, we are family. A tribe.

    We are tribe with a purpose. First and foremost, we provide evidence-based, best practice, competent and compassionate care for the patients and families who choose to trust us with their lives. We are advocates on the legislative front for our patients and for our profession, making a difference with our collective voices by telling our stories of obstacles and successes to lawmakers. But I think the most important thing that we do is network. Emergency nurses have learned to lean on each other. We are the real-life example of a team. We bare our souls to each other because, after all, only other ED nurses can understand. 

    I rely heavily on "borrowing" new ways to do things from friends. Why should I re-invent the wheel, right? The opportunity to "get real" with close friends and colleagues gives me that respite from the struggles that cloud my mind and consume my thoughts, often at the expense of those closest to me. My professional fire also gets rekindled by listening to the "up and comers" in the organization, who show us a different mindset and approach to tackling the same old things that have been confounding us forever.

    During my visit to the Bay area, I got a chance to meet a young lady named Sarah who I befriended on Facebook earlier this year. She's making it her mission to help new nurses succeed in the Emergency Department setting which, quite frankly, those of us with "a little mileage under our belts" have not done very well. Sarah is refreshingly energetic and passionate. She's also extremely real - sharing a presentation on mental health and emergency nursing colored by her own personal struggles with depression and anxiety. 

    So here, for those of you who've asked what they get from ENA for their annual membership fee, it's so much more than discounts on conferences and magazines and journals. If you still don't understand, read this again and then change your question, for my annual membership fee, what can I give to ENA and its 43,000+ members that will make me better for sharing.

    You'll be amazed by what you can bring to the table . . . if you try!