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2022 Cherokee Nursing Conference Scholarship-winning Essays

Jay Brownson, MSN, RN, PCCN, CNML

Nursing is ever changing and with all of our advances we are still seeing disparities in certain vulnerable populations. By attending one of these conferences I am able to learning more about the efforts that are being put forth to care for certain populations such as the LGBTQ community. As a member of this community myself and working within healthcare I see how these individuals are treated and the help they could use within the hospital setting. I am currently working on my Doctorate of nursing project which is the implementation of a cultural diversity course. This course would talk about healthcare disparities and what we as nurses can do to provide compassionate care for the patients. This would be the short term goal is to have this course be implemented and start teaching nurses how to care for vulnerable populations. The long term goal would be to have this type of education provided prior to licensure. I would also like to see about having the writers of the NCLEX start to implement these types of topics into the licensure exam. By seeing what other hospitals are doing I am able to understand how something like this can be implemented throughout the nation and not just within Reno Nevada. With how we continue to advance healthcare it is time for us to advance the care we provide for all populations.


Janice Campbell, MSN, RN, LCCE, IBCLC

First of all, thank you for this opportunity. My long-term career goals include becoming a nurse professor in a respectful nursing college. As a professor, I hope to contribute to the development of new knowledge in the science of nursing. I want to prepare new nurses for a career based on scientific evidence, along with compassion and empathy. My short-term career goals include acquiring nursing knowledge in the field of women's health. That is my area of expertise. The national conference organized by the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), offers the participants the opportunity of understanding national issues related to women's health. It is a great nursing opportunity to think about possible healthcare innovations and safe policies creation and implementation. In the past, this conference delivered a full range of possibilities to participants to strengthen their knowledge and expand their professional networks. In this convention, I will have the opportunity to participate in workshops, educational sessions, and symposia to earn continuing nursing education contact hours. As I pursue my Ph.D. nursing education, accessing the latest research in my area will enhance my nursing expertise. Attending this conference will help me achieve just that. It will improve my nursing practice skills and increase patient care, education, and activities promoting the health of women and newborns.


Mark Cordova Cuizon, BSN, RN, RM, MN

Ever since I became a registered nurse, I have already inculcated in my young mind that nursing is not just a profession, but a constant and perpetual selfless mission to provide compassionate, safe, and quality care. With this, it is my moral obligation to keep myself abreast with the current trends in healthcare and to steadily hone my skills, abilities, and professionalism to be more for others. As a surgical-oncology nurse, my short-term goal is to become a valuable resource leader in our department and to validate my practice through obtaining nursing certification- PCCN and OCN. With equal importance, my long-term goal is to be part of an empowered leadership team dedicated to formulating evidence-based protocols and staff-driven initiatives, promoting a positive and supportive work environment with greater collaboration and teamwork among members and achieving international recognition for our dedication and passion for quality and excellence as a unit (Beacon award) and as an organization (Magnet-designation) in the Arabian peninsula. If given the opportunity to be awarded this prestigious scholarship, I will choose to attend the National Teaching Institute (NTI) and Critical Care Exposition by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. I believe that this conference will serve as a catapult to propel my career goals and it will provide significant benefits to my professional growth and my department. More so, I will stipulate the following points. First, my primary goal is to learn more, advance my skills, and be certified in my chosen field. I have my faith that this convention will provide boundless imperative and up-to-date clinical and professional development topics that are affecting our current practice. With this, it will give a better understanding of the best practices and innovative ideas from beacon-award winning teams, research presenters, AACN personalities that I can bring and replicate to my unit to deliver a better and quality patient experience. In addition, some pre-conference sessions provide better insights, understanding, and preparation to be a certified nurse. I believe that Certification in any field is a mark of professionalism and I want to serve as a champion to inspire and motivate other nurses in our department to get certified. Second, I am passionate about promoting a healthy working environment, collaboration, communication, and evidence-based practice. In these times of uncertainty, nurses are at the forefront of the pandemic but very vulnerable to moral distress and burnout that radically affect our mental health and wellbeing. I have made some efforts by lifting my team's spirit through humor and therapeutic presence, but I wish I could have done some more. I believe this convention will serve as a great avenue to be inspired, for my soul to be motivated, and my spirit is renewed by listening and learning from prominent nursing leaders, inspiring super sessions' keynote speakers, and other outstanding nurses in their respective fields. I want to equip myself with the necessary learnings and tools to help and support other nurses in my unit, especially in these times of crisis. Lastly, it is my ultimate dream to see my unit be honored with the Beacon Award. I believe our team is doing some excellent practice that significantly affects patients' safety and experience particularly in preventing and promptly identifying surgical infections, falls prevention, minimizing medication errors to name a few. I envision that one day I will present and share our best practices with the world, and I think the NTI is the perfect platform to promote our group's dedication, commitment, and achievements.


Nancy Dias, PhD, RN

My program of research is focused on pediatric palliative/bereavement care for parents of children with life-threatening/life-limiting illnesses with a goal to improve their health outcomes. My preliminary work explored challenges of bereaved parents during the first six months after their child had died. Using this preliminary data, I developed a theoretically based, multi-modal, web-based intervention. My short-term goal is to conduct multi-site clinical trials to test the web-based intervention that I have developed. This digital intervention offers affordable and accessible self-management strategies for parents and their families. I built an interdisciplinary team whose palliative care research complements my work. We are using NIH’s ORBIT model for development of behavioral intervention to develop and test this intervention. We plan to submit a R-level grant next year to test phase IIb of the ORBIT model. My long-term goal is to develop a body of research that can make innovative and significant contributions to pediatric palliative, end of life care, and bereavement care. I strive to improve parents? long-term health outcomes by developing self-management, health promotion, disease prevention, and technologically innovative interventions that can be incorporated into pediatric palliative care services As an early career scientist, this conference gives me an opportunity to meet and network with prospective mentors who are established nurse scientists in my interest area. I use this opportunity to brainstorm ideas with them and develop additional research teams. Often at conferences, I have disseminated my study findings and presented data from systematic reviews that I have conducted to develop a body of research in this niche area of parental bereavement. These conferences are where my research ideas are solidified and foundational to team building for future projects.



I would love the opportunity to attend the NTI Conference through AACN in May 2022. NTI stands for National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition and it is all about rejuvenating and reinvigorating the narrative around education. With much of the focus of the bedside staff being on COVID, the past few years have seen some great innovation in the way of necessity. The resources have been short and the need has been great, so it would be an amazing opportunity to hear how other institutions have thrived during this time and get some ideas on how I can lead the change and be a positive role model and leader for my institution as a clinical nurse specialist. Another opportunity that this would allow would be to hear about the latest ways that people have elevated the practice of nursing. Nurses are natural problem solvers by nature, and it is always fascinating to me the way that we as a profession are able to get what is needed to done. A recent example I can think of that I thought was so innovative was the use of a zip tie gun to secure the connections in a chest tube system. Historically, these connections are secured by a massive amount of tape and after speaking with several of my colleagues who specialize in lung transplants, I heard of this new idea. It doesn?t sound like a multi-million dollar device or idea, however the beauty in the idea is the simplicity to it. Often the best thing about the solutions that nurses come up with is that they are much uncomplicated in nature but truly solve the problem at its core. I think key take away points from a conference of this nature would indeed be worthwhile in sharing and also be inspiring to me in my own endeavors. I love the concept of being an innovator but I also love the idea of making solutions that are impactful and meaningful to the nurse and the patient. One of the projects I am most proud of that I helped to lead was to simplify the education handouts and sharing that occurred with the patients that I know and love, the transplant patients. I had the opportunity to work with a multidisciplinary team (including my colleagues at the business school here at Ohio State) as well as former patients to ensure that the way we were presenting the information was effective, efficient and made sense. I want to make sure that I am helping to provide my staff with relevant and useful information that is meaningful but also keeps them engaged. I like to think “outside of the box” when it comes to education and even our nurse annual competency. I decided that rather than completing the standard check offs and paper work for competency, I would change the name of the game – literally. I turned our annual competency into a real life board game theme (this year it is trivial pursuit; last year was the game of life) and split the nurses into teams. Each team competes individually and as a group through choices to demonstrate competency and the more they work together, the more they are rewarded. I have seen the engagement, team work and the time it takes to get the competency done greatly improve! Going the extra mile for the staff in things like this truly make a difference when it comes to how they care for their patients. Being afforded the opportunity to go to this conference would allow me to keep pushing and striving to be a leader, innovator, patient advocate and overall great clinical nurse specialist.


Jacqueline Newton, RN, MSN, CPEN, NE-BC

With immense pride, I have been a nurse for 30 years. Although a greater portion of my career has been dedicated as a nursing leader, I remain close always to the bedside supporting patients, families, and the teams that I lead. I consider myself to be a faithful, servant and transformational leader and I truly enjoy any opportunity that I can to gain greater and deeper knowledge, experiences and insight into evidence-based practices. I am committed to my own professional growth and development so that I can better serve the community of nurses that I lead daily. My long term career goal is to become a Vice President of Nursing and more imminently, my short term goal is rebuild the nursing workforce after a lengthy and considerably impactful pandemic. I am interested in attending the AONL conference so that I can benefit from best practices emerging from the pandemic focusing on staff engagement, resiliency and retention as well as the valuable opportunity to network with colleagues. One of the most incredible gifts of nursing has always been the long standing relationships we build with one another. After leading through a tumultuous pandemic, I am more than eager to spend time with my fellow colleagues and to express my sincerest gratitude for their equally noteworthy service and commitment. This year, one of the teams that I lead won the Daisy Team award from the nomination that I submitted. To date, the honor of being a Daisy Team is by far the most momentous recognitions ever bestowed upon me and I couldn’t be prouder of how the team has excelled amidst a global pandemic as the Special Isolation Unit. For this reason, I would be immensely thankful for consideration as a scholarship recipient.


Lauren Peiffer, BSN, RN, PCCN-K

I currently work as a registered nurse in quality improvement. Our team works to ensure patients receive high-quality of care and are free from harm while they are being cared for in our organization. My short term career goal is to obtain my Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) certification. The IHI Forum is considered the premier conference on healthcare quality and delivery. There are several topic tracks, including Improvement Science, Workforce and Patient Safety, Person-Centered Care, Population Health, and more. These topic tracks have specific educational sessions and keynote speakers. These cover topics that are pertinent to the CPHQ certification as well as the delivery of quality care. My longer-term career goal is to become a certified Clinical Nurse Leader. I am currently enrolled in a MSN program in the Clinical Nurse Leader track. Upon graduation in 2023, I will be eligible to sit for the Clinical Nurse Leader certification exam, which is provided through AACN. The Clinical Nurse Leader provides clinical care for patients across the continuum of care in the healthcare setting. This includes coordination of care, utilizing evidence based practice, being abreast on innovations in care delivery, and collaborating with members of the interdisciplinary team (among others). IHI is dedicated to improving and sustaining better health outcomes for all patients, which is an essential component of the competencies of the Clinical Nurse Leader. The IHI Forum would provide an opportunity for me as a future Clinical Nurse Leader to collaborate and learn from other individuals who are also focused on improving health care delivery. It would also provide further education on improvement science, which would assist in managing performance improvement projects in the future.


Michelle Raynor


Theresa Wavra, MSN, RN, PCNS-BC

I am the psychiatric clinical program coordinator in the Emergency Medicine & Trauma Center at Children's National Hospital. I lead registered nurses, child psychiatric specialists, and safety attendants who provide clinical care for psychiatric patients. As a part of my role, I have been instrumental in implementing safe passage for patients who transition from the emergency department to inpatient med/surg and psychiatric units. I am currently working on an interprofessional team to implement safe boarding, trauma informed care, CPI training, risk of aggression screening and behavioral response teams. By attending the APNA conference I hope to be able to network with other colleagues and learn best practices for the care of psychiatric/behavioral health patients in the Emergency Department. Conferences are invaluable opportunities to expand the great work we already have in progress. All conferences have been on hold the last 18 months due to finances. I look forward to the opportunity to attend conferences again and continue this important work. Short term goals include creating a list of colleagues with dedicated Pediatric Psychiatric Emergency Departments. My long term goals include visiting these hospitals and networking prior to the construction of our own new care area for pediatric psychiatric evaluations.


Brigitte Marie Williams, RN, BSN, OCN

I have been a nurse for 22 years now with 8 years being in Oncology. I now manage a small start up cancer clinic here in Lebanon, TN for Vanderbilt. My short term career goal includes keeping my clinic on top of every acceptable metrics there is when it comes to patient satisfaction, patient experience and staff performance. I want to be a part of it's success and failure to help me become a better leader in the future. Success comes from faith and determination to win your struggles. Though failure is not bad at all, it gives you a new perspective on how to see things differently to know what works and what does not. It gives you opportunity to explore new ways to navigate through your struggles and reach success. I am very proud for this experience and thankful for Vanderbilt and its leaders for believing in me that I can lead my team to better heights. It is also important to me that my staff feels valuable and appreciated everyday. My long term career goal is to expand my portfolio in managing both Medical Oncology clinic and Infusion clinic here at Vanderbilt- Ingram Cancer Center. With current trends in Oncology society, attending this conference will help me gain more confidence in managing the clinic equipped with both clinical and operational knowledge to do it successfully and to help more patients thrive while going through their cancer treatment battle.

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