Share Your Work with Your Colleagues ‒ Submit an Abstract for the 2018 Annual Conference
Lee Shirland, MS APRN NNP-BC
September 15 was National Neonatal Nurses Day! I hope you enjoyed this special day that was designated to celebrate all that you do for our tiny patients and their families. To celebrate this very special day, NANN designed clothing for sale for neonatal nurses. Also, for the first time, neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) and clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) can purchase clothing with NANNP’s logo on it. If you have not already done so, please check out the wonderful screen-printed T-shirts, fleeces, and lounge pants. Proudly wear your NANNP clothing and encourage your colleagues to support NANNP by doing the same. If you plan to attend the NANN conference in Providence, RI, join us by wearing your NANNP shirt and/or fleece at NANN After Dark. I will be wearing a shirt and fleece with NANNP’s logo on it and looking for other members wearing the same. If you see someone wearing NANNP’s logo, introduce yourself. Let’s see how many NNPs and CNSs we can identify as NANNP members, and let’s all get to know each other, where we live, where we work, and what our special interests are. I am excited to get to know you, so if you see me before I see you, please, introduce yourself and let me know where you are from.
Although only one day has been set aside to celebrate neonatal nurses, NNPs, and CNSs, you are appreciated every day for the excellent care that you give families. When you reflect on the care that you give and the evidence behind the protocols or guidelines that you follow in your unit, think about outcomes. Have your protocols or guidelines resulted in improved outcomes? Were you part of the process of developing, implementing, and evaluating a protocol or guideline? Did you use the plan-do-study-act cycle or cycles for your performance improvement project? If you have been a part of this process and have seen improved outcomes based on the interventions that you implemented, consider submitting an abstract for the 2018 NANN conference. Share with colleagues what has and hasn't worked well in your unit, and why a project was successful or not. We can learn so much from each other and save a lot of time and aggravation by not trying to reinvent the wheel. If you have had an unusual case presentation or a presentation of a complicated diagnosis, consider submitting an abstract that leads participants to think critically about how to assess and diagnosis the case, treat or care for the infant, help the family through the crisis, and plan for discharge. This can be a wonderful learning experience for the presenter and the audience. If this is something you would like to do but need help or guidance, please contact any member of the NANNP council. We would love to hear from you, help you through this process, and celebrate your success with you.
Don’t be intimidated by the process of submitting an abstract or speaking in public. I know first-hand how intimidating this may seem. Many years ago, when I was a novice NNP, my mentor encouraged me to speak at a local conference that our NNP group sponsored annually for nurses in our unit and in regional units. This was not easy for me as my personality is innately introverted. My peers are surprised to hear this about me as they have never seen me as an introvert, and my family and friends were extremely surprised when I told them that I was going to speak at a conference because they knew how difficult it would be. I was extremely nervous, but I was reminded by my mentor that speaking in my home hospital is the best way to learn how to speak in public. Your friends and colleagues will be honest with you about how you did. This critique may not be easy to hear, but it will help you grow professionally, and if becoming a speaker is something that you are working towards, this is a great place to start. I prepared my talk and rehearsed it several times to make sure I covered my topic well in the time frame allowed. The evaluations from that first talk were not very good. Conference participants felt that my talk was to research oriented and, at times, boring and difficult to follow. When my mentor gave me the evaluation comments, she did so sensitively and encouraged me to use this to develop and hone my speaking skills. I discovered that although I was excited about research, my audience was not as excited about all the steps of the research process. This is one of the most important rules of speaking: know your audience and what they are expecting from a learning session.
I volunteered to speak again the following year and was determined to make my talk the best of the conference. I began by presenting a case presentation then dove into the important issues related to the topic. I presented only a synopsis of research, explaining what changed treatment so the audience understood why each intervention was ordered. I did provide a bibliography as a handout, so conference participants could look up any research they found interesting and they had the background research needed if they wished to present it for implementation in their unit. My talk received the best evaluations of the conference, and I have continued to improve and grow as a speaker. I have presented and been the general speaker at several national conferences. Although this professional growth came with growing pains, it was and is still so worth it. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone—consider developing your public speaking skills and presenting at the NANN national conference in 2018.