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2023/2024  Winning Essays

The questions for this year’s application cycle were as follows: 

  1. Please describe how you will share what you learn at this conference with colleagues. 

  2. How will you incorporate what you learn from this educational offering into your practice? 

  3. How will this conference advance your long-term career goals (beyond the attainment of continuing education hour requirements)? 


Essays were lightly edited for grammar, flow, and readability.  


Lindsay Greiling

Essay 1:  I graduated from the nursing program at James Madison University (JMU) in Harrisonburg, VA in 2019 with my BSN. During that time. I served on our Nursing Student Association leadership team as well as the Virginia Nursing Student Association (VNSA).  

I represented JMU at many conferences during that time and helped plan our state-wide nursing conferences. We would bring back our knowledge from those conferences and teach them at our JMU chapter of the nursing student association and we would provide that information in our state-wide conferences that we planned.

This desire to learn and to teach latest, newest practices in nursing is still very present within my heart. I currently work at the University of Virginia Medical Center as a Registered Nurse, and I hold my certification in Medical-Surgical nursing. I have held many leadership positions on my unit and have helped recertify nurses across the hospital with their yearly competencies. 

I also have connections with our Nursing Professional Governance Organization (NPGO) on our unit and at the hospital level. NPGO disseminates the newest research regarding evidence-based practice and changes within hospital/unit policies and procedures through monthly unit meetings and weekly email blasts to every nurse in our hospital.  

If chosen to attend a nursing conference, I will be able to share any knowledge I obtain through these channels. I would speak at the next NPGO meeting to disseminate it to my colleagues and unit leadership. I would also connect with the President and the Vice President of the hospital level’s NPGO to provide them with knowledge to include in their monthly email blasts. 


Essay 2: I can incorporate what I learn into my current practice as a bedside nurse. Change in any organization can occur with just one person speaking up. I believe that through the professional relationship with my unit leaders, I can advocate for change within our unit.  

Often, our unit has sparked change within the whole hospital by trialing new practices. Our unit is well known in our hospital for being willing to roll out new ideas to provide the safest care for our patients. For example, we started completing bedside safety equipment checks before we huddle at 0700. Our management had come up with this idea, due to a recent sentinel event that occurred on another unit involving the failure of proper safety equipment at the bedside.  

Our nurses will split up and go into each patient room to check for the presence of working safety equipment such as ambu-bags, nonrebreathers, oxygen tubing, suction canister, and a yankauer suction tip. Trialing this on our unit has shown hospital leadership that this process could take less than two minutes, and ensures that our rooms are set up with proper equipment at the beginning of every shift.  

Now, this process we call “Room Safety Checks” are performed at the beginning of each shift on three other medical-surgical units. I know that I have the support of my unit management to evoke change based on evidence-based practice and I will try to spark change on my unit if I am selected to attend an educational nursing conference. 

Essay 3: Attending a conference will advance my long-term career goals as I am already continuing my education. I am currently a graduate student at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA; I am in the Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist/Nurse Educator online program and will graduate with my MSN In December of 2024. In addition, I have completed a Clinical Instructor Workshop through my hospital in hopes of leading nursing students on my unit as their clinical instructor.


My passion for learning is evident in my desire to continue my education. I am hoping to make a difference in the lives of nursing students and other nurses on my unit. I will be graduating in a position of leadership that focuses on educating nurses.


Attending conferences are extremely helpful in learning the newest, evidence-based practices to stay up to date with the knowledge that nursing students will have as well as being able to teach the current nursing population of these changes.


In addition, attending nursing conferences will help me build relationships with other nurses and network. Nurses with various backgrounds attend conferences and can provide me with insight, guidance, and wisdom as I advance my career into nursing leadership and education. Networking and building a foundation of other nurses to whom I can reach out to and who can motivate me are priceless. 



Leigh Grzywacz


Essay 1:  The annual ENA conference if full of valuable knowledge related to emergency nursing. I plan to attend sessions that will include innovative ideas and knowledge that I can bring to my department. I will work closely with our education team and plan to share it with the entire nursing department. I will include formats such as newsletters, skill stations, posters, and other mini huddle blitzes.  


I have a lot of newer emergency nurses who could benefit from learning new techniques, new equipment that helps improve patient care, or new knowledge that will help promote quality and safety in care for our community. 

Essay 2: After attending conferences in the past I'll always bring back information to share with key stakeholders in my organization. If it is product related, I will present to our admin team including clinical leaders. The next step would be approval through our value analysis team to incorporate the products in our department. Leadership knowledge gained at the conference would be incorporated directly into the team I lead. Educational knowledge would be incorporated into our annual skill stations or monthly blitzes to share with staff. 

Essay 3: The conference will directly advance my career goals in several ways. One is networking with other emergency room leaders to share best practices, as well as sharing knowledge on different certifications available, along with study materials and prep courses. As a leader, it is important to stay up-to-date on any new certifications, knowledge, techniques, and best practices in emergency nursing. Staying fresh with knowledge will help me be a stronger leader to the nurses in my department. 


Margaretha Kasim 

Essay 1:  In my current position as the Manager of Nursing Research department, I have the privilege and pleasure of working with our amazing nurses on evidence-based practice projects. Our department serves the entire six entities throughout our Magnet designated health system.  

What I learn from the Magnet conference would benefit nurses in the various settings, at all levels. I would disseminate what I have learned in various ways: to nursing leaders with topics specific to their unit or patient population, to professional governance councils that ask our department for advisc on projects, and even collaborating with the school of nursing for DNP student projects. 

Essay 2: Our department is frequently consulted for project ideas or project development by nursing leaders, nurses interested in conducting EBP projects, EBP fellows, and nursing faculty and students for DNP projects. We also provide a training class on EBP project development for our RN residents.  

The RN residents are divided into groups based on their unit practice and assigned a topic identified as a problem on the unit or for the population. The Magnet conference is one of the best for me to attend, as it includes various topics of interest, and disseminating the info really results in the most amazing nurses. 

Essay 3: I will be graduating in June 2023 with my DNP degree as a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS). The Magnet conference is influential for my career as a CNS. It would not only provide me with ideas for potential projects, but also equip me with invaluable knowledge of possible project ideas and the application of latest evidence from the industry’s finest.  

Aside from increasing my credibility as the Manager of the Nursing Research department and the EBP expert, I can effectively serve my nurses by providing them with knowledge so they can apply the interventions to to achieve optimal patient outcomes.  

I can also share this knowledge with the school of nursing for potential DNP projects, thereby strengthening their quality and value. One of my biggest goals and dreams is to have as many nurses as possible present their projects – whether poster or podium – at various conferences, and ultimately the Magnet conference.  

I would like to be able to advance the nursing scholarship within our organization to allow nurses to disseminate their amazing accomplishments, so that they can be proud of their achievements and the difference they have made. 



Carter (Courtney) Kurtas 


Essay 1:  As the Professional Practice Chair of my hospital, as well as an ICU RN, I strive to continue to bring best practice to my unit in order to improve patient care and the experiences of our nurses and patients. The opportunity to attend a conference will allow me improve my hospital, and enable more positive outcomes for patients through the use of evidence based practices. 

Essay 2: I am always working to give my patients the best treatment while incorporating new evidence based techniques. My favorite part of attending conferences is seeing practices used at other sites that haven't made their way to my hospital yet. I plan to use what I learn to improve not only my unit but my hospital as a whole.  


As an example, I recently learned of virtual kits through our omnicell that allow nurses to access a "STEMI alert" pack. When a patient on our step down neuro unit had a neurosurgical emergency, I used this as a guide to collaborate with Neurosurgery and Pharmacy in order to create a neurosurgical emergency virtual pack.  


This gave the nurses access to crucial medications during rapid responses and decreases delays in care when these meds were not accessible.  


Essay 3:  I am starting the process of going back to school with the hopes of pursuing an MSN in Leadership. As a leader, I want to encourage nurses to practice a positive culture. One of the best ways is to gather nurses in conferences and discuss challenges and successes. These discussions open a door for improvement and change. Eventually I would love to be a Magnet Program Director; a role that promotes nurse involvement and advancing the field. 



Stephanie Landrey 

Essay 1:  I plan on sharing my conference knowledge by creating nursing-related content on social media and working with my leadership team to create a “tip of the week.” I also plan on using my background in adult emergency/trauma to create useful content for my current setting: pediatric emergency/trauma.  

Since I also consider parents and patients to be colleagues, I plan on weaving conference content into my daily conversations with them.  I plan on beginning a graduate-level program in Nursing Administration, and conference learnings will be invaluable to my education, and be used in papers and discussions when appropriate.  

For any skills I learn, I will first partner with leadership to go over them and ensure they are a right fit for our department, and then hold small educational sessions with my colleagues. This body of knowledge will also be important for preceptors of both new graduate nurses and those entering the emergency setting for the first time. Working with the department educator will be crucial in sharing the information with both new and experienced nurses. 

Essay 2: In order to successfully implement conference teachings into my daily practice, I plan on first identifying my strengths so I can use them to the best of my ability. Strength identification will also help me identify SMART goals, which are tangible, and which I can measure my successes against and identify what I might be able to do better.  

I plan to participate in continued learning after the conference to help stay up-to-date on current content, as well as changes since the information was first presented. I will also utilize the nursing process to evaluate and implement teachings and ideas at the bedside, and in educational opportunities for me and my colleagues.  

I also plan on keeping open lines of communication between myself, my colleagues and leadership team, and my patients and their families. This will help hold me accountable for making sure I implement what I learned in everyday situations. 

Essay 3:  I have a special interest in department throughput, triage, and emergency department abuse. Knowledge attained from this event will assist me as I begin my education in nursing administration. My short-term goals are to continue to advance my knowledge and skill set as a trauma nurse at a Level 1 trauma facility, using my learnings to help sharpen my current skills, as well as develop new ones, so I can be a better nurse at the bedside and beyond.  

Long-term, I would like to be involved in quality, risk-management, and process improvement. Information from this conference will help me identify trends in these areas, as well as being able to expand on them, and how they may help or hurt the current setting.  

Understanding of initiatives by the Emergency Nursing Association to improve the emergency setting will also help me become a more well-rounded nurse, and will help me to identify barriers to implementation, as well as celebrate successes big and small. 



Teresa Lewer 


Essay 1:  The role of Oncology Nurse Navigator is relatively new in the world of Cancer Care. Mayo Clinic has been developing the role for just two years. I plan to present information learned from the conference to the Oncology Nurse Navigator group that meets monthly. We work across the country, based out of the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, Florida, and Minnesota.  

I plan to use one of our meetings to highlight the conference and refer my team to conference resources. In addition to the above, I also plan to have detailed discussion with my two Oncology Nurse Navigator mentees.  

The three of us lead our individual site's Oncology Nurse Navigator program. Each of our roles are new to the Mayo Clinic Health System and we are the pioneers in developing the program for our sites. As a small group, we are able to incorporate new learnings quickly for the betterment of our patients. 

Essay 2: I have worked as an Oncology nurse for 15 years but have been working as an Oncology Nurse Navigator for just the last year. Since I took on this role, I have been able to develop the Oncology Nurse Navigator program at Mayo Clinic in Mankato, Minnesota from the ground up. I am continuously seeking ways to improve the quaity of my patients’ care.  

By attending a national conference, I will learn from the seminars presented, as well as from the people who attend. I hope to learn new ways of providing education, addressing barriers to care, accessing community resources, and other methods of supporting our patients during their cancer journey. Learnings will then be incorporated into our existing program at Mayo Mankato and potentially be spread across Mayo Clinic system-wide. 

Essay 3:  My goal over the next 5-10 years is to continue to grow the Oncology Nurse Navigator program at Mayo Clinic in Mankato. My current role provides personalized care to patients who have a Breast Cancer diagnosis. I am a direct contact for them from the time of diagnosis until they complete their treatment(s). 

I reach out to patients within 48 hours of their diagnosis, provide them with education prior to their surgery/oncology appointments, coordinate their care, and connect them to resources. Attending the conference and making connections with others who do similar work would allow me to develop the best program possible for my patients.  

I hope to show my organization how beneficial Oncology Nurse Navigators can be and gain approval to expand the role into other diagnoses. I dream of a day when all our cancer patients have a Nurse Navigator to support them through their cancer journey and beyond. 


Resa Lord 

Essay 1:  As the clinical manager of the Children's Hospital at Piedmont Midtown Columbus, approximately one-third of my staff are certified pediatric nurses through the National Certification Board of Pediatric Nurses and Practioners (PNCB). Many years ago, 95% of our staff were certified.  

Since the passing of the pandemic, many nurses have retired and moved on. As I work to rebuild a strong and competent staff, many nurses who apply and are hired have not yet had the opportunity to earn specialty certification. It would be my goal to utilize the information that I learn and the professional connections that I make to develop a local review for my staff to prepare for the pediatric nursing certification exam.  

Specialty certification in pediatrics speaks volumes for the staff caring for our children every day. Parents, visitors, and patients are more trusting of those who have a focus on the pediatric population. Attendance at this conference will allow me to review the common and uncommon diagnoses which we may (or may not) encounter on a regular basis in order to prepare these younger nurses to advocate for pediatric patients.  


Essay 2: As a nurse manager, my role as a nurse practitioner is often limited to non-clinical aspects of nursing. However, attending a conference such as this will allow me to review and utilize both managerial and clinical skills which may be pushed aside for more important management matters.  

I often work in a moonlighting position, which would allow me to use the information from this conference to boost my practice and skills, ensuring that I am using the most recent evidence-based practice in my everyday work. 


Essay 3: Attending the National Association of Pediatric Nurses and Practitioners conference in March of 2024 will not only allow me to obtain my CE requirements, but also learn clinical and management information to lead me into the future of pediatric nursing in our community.  

Beginning in August 2024, construction will begin on a new freestanding children's hospital in Columbus, Georgia. Our current children's hospital is a hospital within a hospital, and will move out into the new building. This move will require the addition of staff and innovative services which will take us into the future of pediatric nursing and healthcare. I wish to continue to be a leader in this effort and utilize the information learned in professional settings such as this to ensure that we are state-of-the-art when the doors open in late 2024. 



Vivian Atanga Manka'ah 


Essay 1:   

  • I will educate my immediate colleagues at the job site and family members on my learnings from the conference.  

  • As a University course instructor, I will also teach colleagues and students on the recent competences through seminars and conferences.  

  • I will work with an established social nursing network groups called Nursing Now, through seminars organised by the different groups. They train major leaders at the regional levels who will subsequently train others at the divisional, district level and so on throughout the country, down to the remotest village.  

  • As a senior nurse-midwife in my country’s Ministry of Public Health, I will advocate organisation of seminars to reach out to the entire country through policy creation/modification based on women's health learnings from the conference.  


Essay 2:  

  • As a University lecturer, I will organise seminars to disseminate recent competencies learned at the conference.  

  • As a nurse-midwife practitioner, I will share them in the clinical setting during work with colleagues and interns, as well as patients and their significant others.  

  • Seminars will also be organised in the health institution to update the professionals on current competences learned via the seminar. They can also be added to the existing curriculum as need be. 


Essay 3:   

  • It will help me connect with other professionals outside my country which will help in sharing of richer information, from diverse cultures and views. 

  • It will also let us compare different competences so we can upgrade existing curriculum or study programs.  

  • It will also help open avenues for new job opportunities and study programs. 



Jesus Medrano 


Essay 1:  On my medical/surgical unit at Children's Hospital Colorado, nurses are required to attend monthly staff meetings to address various discussion topics that pertain to our unit, which could be a perfect opportunity for me to bring up any educational experience from Nurse Con at Sea.  

Our unit also has various committees (iprofessional governance, sunshine committee, etc.) and a newsletter called Moose Tracks (named after our unit's mascot) where I can share more details about the education I received.  

Our administrators are always open to new ideas, and with the information gained there is a potential to implement changes or design research-based projects that would benefit our patient population. 


Essay 2: The knowledge I gain from this experience will be incorporated into all aspects of my daily care for patients and their families. I want to ensure my patients receive the best possible care while I am their nurse and be able to advocate for the most up to date best practice measure.  

A common example of this is the use of pronouns based on patient preferences. One workshop that stands out to me is “Transgender Health in the Pediatric Population” which we see on our floor due to the population’s high risk of self-harm.  

This population is also especially vulnerable in the health care setting. It’s crucial in understanding how an initial approach from a health care team can be significant in creating a moment that can potentially either affirm the patient or cause further harm.  

Attending these classes would allow me to have a better idea of how to promote positive health outcomes, provide resources, and limit any potential discrimination and stigma our patients may face from their health care team. 

Essay 3:  I’m hoping to not only walk away with amazing knowledge and experiences from this conference, but also connect with people who could potentially lead me to the next step in my career. I believe that the knowledge I will gain will broaden my horizon talent-wise and allow me to see the various roles and career directions that I haven’t previously considered.  

One route that I am considering is becoming a Nurse Practitioner focused on mental health, which is a population that we see often on my unit and part of the reason why I chose to start my nursing career here. Regardless, I plan to utilize all the new knowledge gained in my daily practice going forward. 



Billi Marie Meli 


Essay 1:  The goal of attending this conference is to enhance clinical competence and performance in the field of pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition. This can be achieved by staying updated with the latest discoveries in the pathophysiology of gastrointestinal, pancreatic, hepatobiliary, and nutrition related diseases. Furthermore, exposure to modern techniques for diagnosis and treatment of such diseases can lead to further improvements in clinical competence.  


It is also important to remain informed about the ever-changing healthcare environment, the regulatory process through which new discoveries come to application, as well as the significance of advocacy and ethics in practice. All these aspects can help to improve the quality of care provided to patients.  


I would first organize a meeting with my team or fellow nurses to discuss the insights and ideas that I learned during the conference. Additionally, I would create a summary report of key takeaways that I could distribute to all staff members. 


To ensure the new ideas are implemented, I would also suggest setting up training sessions or small group meetings to dive deeper into specific areas of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition nursing.  


Ultimately, sharing the knowledge and learnings gained at the conference will help to improve patient outcomes and strengthen the overall care provided by our healthcare facility. 

Essay 2: To ensure optimal pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition care, it is essential to stay informed about the latest research, guideline,s and recommendations from experts in the field. Sharing this knowledge with patients and their families through education about healthy eating habits and preventive measures can significantly improve digestive health.


Collaboration with other healthcare professionals enhances the quality of care through idea exchange and support. It is critical to incorporate evidence-based practices and diagnostic tools in clinical practice to improve patient outcomes. By following these essential steps, healthcare professionals can deliver optimal pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition care. 


Essay 3: Attending the Association of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition Nurse Conference would be an excellent step toward furthering my professional growth and enhancing my career. The conference would give me the opportunity to meet and network with other professionals in the field and develop knowledge and skills about the latest advancements in pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition. The symposiums, workshops, and keynote addresses will provide insights on the newest research, treatment options, and nursing interventions.  

By staying up to date on the latest practices, I will be able to provide more valuable care and consultation to my patients and their families. Building a network of contacts, developing collaborative relationships with colleagues, and gaining exposure to new knowledge and research in the field will give me a competitive advantage as a nurse practitioner. This would help me to grow and flourish as a nurse, thereby advancing my long-term career goals in pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition. 



Marissa Mendoza 


Essay 1:  By attending the 8th World Congress of Pediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery, I hope to elevate my practice as a nurse working in the Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) population. I've had a true passion for caring for patients with CHD and improving outcomes for as long as I can remember.  

On my unit, I work with many new nurses who may have only recently learned about CHD after being hired onto our unit. I often find myself sharing new resources, publications, and educational activities with the nurses on my unit; both new and experienced.  

A new educational video was released and could be helpful for caring for our patients? I share it with my co-workers. A new textbook illustrating common CHDs with critical thinking questions? Ordered on Amazon that day, and brought to work a few days later.  

In my position, I have a reliable channel to share new information with my co-workers. I'm helping create a weekly podcast/webinar series which will serve as a collection of short videos reviewing key clinical practice topics, common patient diagnoses, and more; all to educate our nursing staff. I truly enjoy caring for this patient population and hope to empower others by means of education to feel the same way. 


Essay 2: I've submitted an abstract for this conference regarding the role of the Clinical Nurse Specialist in Adult Congenital Heart Disease transitional care. I'm hopeful to be accepted in order to disseminate the evidenced-based practice recommendation that I was able to formulate through literature synthesis.  

I currently work in the Cardiac Care Unit at my institution, and previously worked in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, so my interests span across the care continuum of those with CHD. I'm excited to learn from experts traveling from all parts of the world, and am interested to hear new perspectives based on differing locations.  

In addition to this, I have a strong passion for not only caring for those with CHD, but most specifically for adults living with CHD (ACHD care). Like my patients, I was born with Congenital Heart Defects and underwent three open heart surgeries as an infant. My DAISY award was a nomination from the father of a patient; an adult with CHD with a very similar diagnosis to mine (single ventricle heart disease).  

I've always felt that I have a unique perspective on the needs of the adult CHD population, from my personal experiences to what I see at the bedside. I strongly believe that because I have the ability and knowledge necessary to advocate for myself, I want to advocate for those who may not have the same experience. That said, I'm excited to learn more about Adult Congenital Heart Disease, and I hope to apply my learnings to my everyday practice; not only for adults age 18 or older, but those approaching adulthood. 


Essay 3:  I'm currently working as a Clinical Nurse Specialist Fellow in the Cardiac Care Unit. I love this role, and feel I can make a meaningful impact each day at work, while also learning something new.  

I've also identified a gap in care for our adult-aged patients with Congenital Heart Disease. Many do not formally "transition" to a care center specialized in adults with CHD. This can lead to poorer outcomes, which is newly emerging following medical advancements over recent decades.  

I have hopes of solving this predicament by creating a formalized nurse-led Congenital Heart Disease transition program. My dream is to create a successful program locally, and then disseminate to other institutions throughout the United States.  

How can I do this? I'm not totally sure yet, but I'm working on it. I'm certain that attending this conference will allow me the opportunity to network, learn about key topics within this population, and potentially disseminate my research to key stakeholders. At the end of the day, I'm hoping to improve ACHD patient outcomes- and I think this conference will help get me there. 



Brandi Nelson 


Essay 1:  There are a few different ways I plan on sharing information from the AORN Global Surgical Conference with my colleagues. I will prioritize based on what my unit needs, and then put together an in-person presentation to be shared at our Wednesday morning and afternoon in-services. I will put any other information that needs to be on our education/information board that my colleagues can review on their own.  

There may also be information that only involves a handful of people, in which case I would have a conversation with them. I love learning new things and sharing them with others, especially when it is something that makes our patients have better experiences and outcomes. 


Essay 2: Since I am somewhat new to Surgical Nursing, I am confident that there will be many things for me to learn that I can incorporate into my practice. It might be something from a simple practice change to a policy/procedure change, and anything in-between. After 17 years in Labor & Delivery, I have now been in the OR for about a year. I am excited to continue learning this new role by going to this conference. 


Essay 3:  I feel like this conference will help me advance my long term-career goal of becoming an RNFA in the following ways. First, I plan on sitting for my CNOR exam, the AORN Global Surgical Conference will help me prepare for. Then I plan on starting an RNFA training program. I believe this conference will help me build on the skills I have learned in the Operating Room. I recognize that I still have so much to learn in this new role, as I still learn something new every day. 



Amanda Palmer 


Essay 1:  By attending the 2023 ENA conference in San Diego, CA, I will have access to more than 75 sessions for clinical education specific to emergency nurses. I also look forward to bringing back valuable insights, innovations, and best practices to staff in our unit. I plan to absorb any and all educational/experience opportunities available to me during this conference and disseminate them to my team and collegues via the many committees I am involved in or lead. They include monthly (local and System Emergency Department) Quality, Safety, Patient Experience, Throughput, Workplace Violence, and Nurse Governance.  

Additionally, I will share information and learnings during monthly staff meetings, in-services and within our CUSP team. I am committed to my own continuous improvement and development as well as that of my team.  

As I am preparing my team to transition into a larger, state-of-the-art Emergency Department, I also want to ensure that our patient care and practice matches the caliber of the space in which we will be caring for our patients. By attending this conference and bringing back what I learn, I can ensure this will be a success.  

This is the prime time for me to attend this conference, as not only is my team readying to transition into a new Emergency Department, but we just won a DAISY Team Award!! My team is reinvigorated and primed to receive and implement education received as a result of my attendance to this conference. 


Essay 2: I am continuously seeking out best practices and the most current guidelines in regards to emergency medicine, which requires adaptability, flexibility, creative thinking, an open mind, and STAMINA. By possessing these traits, as well as being incredibly driven toward growth and positive change, incorporating any new learnings will be easy and exciting!  

I can then review the effectiveness of these additions by putting a PDSA model into place to evaluate my progress and 'check in' with myself to ensure I am on a trajectory of growth and change. 


Essay 3:  My long-term career goals are to enter into a Master's Level program in Healthcare Administration and continue to be a leader in Emergency Medicine. This conference will allow me exposure to practices, resources, networking, and on-trend topics that are not always afforded someone who works in a rural setting.  

I truly believe attending a conference of this magnitude will prove to be another stepping stone and growth opportunity for my personal development as an Emergency Nurse and Leader. 



Natalie Pratt 


Essay 1:  I am a board member for our local APIC Kentuckianna chapter and plan on presenting a PowerPoint presentation on information learned to my fellow infection control peers during upcoming chapter meetings. Our chapter services both Kentucky and Southern Indiana, and over 150 members attend our meetings.  

Additionally, I work for UofL Health which is a large hospital system in Louisville. I am well-networked with all of our infection control staff across the system. We all consult with each other weekly/monthly on infection control processes. I plan on sharing any relevant information learned during my experience at the conference to help them.  

UofL's infection control staff are also a part of our local APIC chapter and will receive structured education during an upcoming chapter meeting. I am part of APIC at a national level and can share information on our IP forums which can help other infection control staff brainstorm infection control opportunities at their hospitals/other facilities.  

I will disseminate any relevant or helpful information to hospital leadership, nurse managers, staff, and other healthcare providers during task force or other committee meetings to improve the quality of care and safety measures for our patients. 


Essay 2: By having the opportunity to network with peers on a national level who work at other behavioral health facilities, along with meeting vendors, and attending educational presentations; I will be able to expand our infection control program at Peace Hospital.  

For example, collecting hand hygiene data can be a challenge in the behavioral health setting. Patients are at risk of consuming sanitizer, and sometimes pediatric patients may trigger it and get it in their eyes. Patients are not confined to their rooms due to safety risks, and many local facilities do not monitor the hand hygiene of staff.  

In my perspective, it is equally important to come up with a good hand hygiene program in the behavioral health setting because we are an inpatient healthcare facility, our patients are hospitalized for prolonged periods, and employees can spread illness to them. Additionally, our patients’ medical health can severely compromise their mental well-being and impact their recovery at our facility.  

Other areas I would like to enhance include the cleaning and disinfection of comfort rooms and sensory items, toys, and other shared items such as earphones, controllers for game stations, and so on. 


Essay 3:  The behavioral health setting can be challenging due to the congregate nature, lack of infection control guidance, and the belief that our patients are not at risk of infection. Most behavioral health facilities have poorly structured infection control programs due to a lack of infection control and behavioral health experience, or they lack a dedicated infection control program staff member.  

Contrary to the belief, our patients come from overcrowded prisons, jails, and homeless shelters, they have a lack of medical follow-up, and often are more likely to participate in risky behaviors, putting themselves and others at risk of infectious disease.  

In the last year, servicing the behavioral health setting as an infection control nurse, I have worked diligently to expand the infection control program at Peace Hospital. One of the largest in its region, Peace Hospital services special populations, such as forensics and patients with developmental disorders. It’s also the only psychiatric facility in the region with a Covid unit.  

We get transfers and referrals from all over the state of Kentucky. We have sensory walls, toys, inpatient and outpatient schools, etc. We have therapy dogs and video games for patients to help improve their mental health. With this very special population, outbreaks can occur very easily, and it can be challenging to mitigate the transmission of infectious diseases.  

It is equally challenging to implement infection control measures without negatively impacting the patients’ mental health. With my mental health background, I have trialed creative methods, allowing the patients to continue getting the services they need, minimizing the impact of isolation while decreasing the spread of communicable diseases.  

I have several goals which include publishing infection control interventions for behavioral health and school settings, presenting this information at future APIC conferences, and hopefully having the opportunity to set guidance at a national level for behavioral health settings. 



Jacqueline Rubinstein-Ayala 


Essay 1:  The Magnet conference is a fantastic opportunity to meet and learn from multiple organizations about nursing-led initiatives that impact patient and staff safety and satisfaction. I plan to share information learned with staff throughout our facility through education role outs, meetings, and newsletters. 


Essay 2: Since last attending the conference in 2019. I have implemented many of the initiatives learned through work groups and collaborative efforts with multi-disciplinary team members. I hope to gain new insights and perspectives from this conference to bring to my team to improve patient safety and the culture of our department and facility.  

I am eager to learn new approaches for expanding and maintaining competencies for our experienced and resident nurses. I am currently working to implement a rapid respond nurse for our facility that would help improve unanticipated transfers to higher level of care, improving patient outcomes. I hope to gain knowledge from others through this conference to improve our work. 


Essay 3:  My goal is to one day present the efforts used in our own department and share our story with others. I hope by attending the conference to learn tips that would help me to successfully present a Podium or Poster presentation in the future; to share the story of the work we have done for our team, to support and grow our culture and care for our patients. 



Nicole Spooner 


Essay 1:  Historically, information procured from IAFN meetings inspired portions of the Emergency Department RN Sexual Assault Education with focus on the standards of care for pediatric, strangulation/trauma, and Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault (DFSA). I would love to be able to attend the 2023 International Conference on Forensic Nursing Science and Practice to incorporate additional concepts into my SANE practice.  

Furthermore, I will continue to design SIM lab education for care of sexual assault patients within the Emergency Department. I have observed most nurses are not comfortable caring for patients presenting to Emergency Department after Sexual Assault (SA). There is a general reservation in caring for this patient population.  

Many nurses express feeling overwhelmed and concerns they will mess up the evidence collection. The “rape kit” includes a multiple-step checklist of evidence to collect. There are no clear-cut instructions regarding labeling and sealing evidence outside the kit, such as clothing and urine. There is also a tedious forensic documentation and photography process.  

Many nurses share misconceptions regarding the legal age of consent for pediatric victims of sexual assault. There is confusion as to what to disclose to law enforcement as a mandated reporter. Even more, there are misconceptions based on the patient’s multiple choices for consent to report.  

The neurobiology of the trauma and variation of the normal trauma response leads many nurses to wonder if a patient experience a “real rape.” Many ED nurses struggle with their perception of how to provide compassionate and accurate nursing care to a sexual assault patient.  

I identified a gap in knowledge for most Registered Nurses (RNs) working in the Emergency Department during casual conversation. As lead SANE with GSH, I designed an immersive educational experience for ED RNs tailored create a sense of familiarity and comfort while providing care to a pediatric patient presenting after a drug facilitated sexual assault with strangulation.  

Emergency Department RNs signed up for a session and submitted a pre-quiz to determine their baseline knowledge of care of SA patients over three data points: Consent, Strangulation Assessment, and Interventions, and Evidence collection. Each participant was provided a Power Point presentation to read prior to the SIM lab session.  

During the session, each participant actively engaged with the educator and provided direct patient care to the MOCK SIM patient for pediatric drug facilitated sexual assault with strangulation of a 15-year-old female. Participants were required to demonstrate hands-on skills and assessment for all three touchpoints: evidence collection techniques, documentation, strangulated trauma patient in the setting of status post SA.  

Other Topics included: Legal definitions of sexual assault and rape, Clarifying misconceptions, GSH Policy, Consent and Age, Documentation Forms/Opening the Evidence collection kit, Opportunity to practice with Alternate Light Source (ALS) and Secure Digital Forensic Images (SDFI).  

I am passionate about incorporating new concepts presented at the 2023 International Conference on Forensic Nursing Science and Practice and am looking forward to incorporating this new information into my SANE and Emergency Department nursing practice. 


Essay 2: I am highly motivated in continuing my SANE education path. The 2023 International Conference on Forensic Nursing Science and Practice will help me hone my skills in this highly specialized area. I thrive on learning the newest evidence based practices to keep my skills sharp and give each patient the best possible care on the worst day of their life. Additionally, I strive continue to mentor to other RNs while they pursue their SANE journey with didactic and clinical logs. 


Essay 3:  In addition to continuing my SANE career path, the 2023 International Conference on Forensic Nursing Science and Practice plans session tracks are directly in-line with my 10 year professional goal of earning MSN in forensic nursing. Specifically, I am interested in learning more about concepts of Administrative & Leadership; Death Investigation; General Forensic & Legal; Intimate Partner Violence; Pediatrics; Psychiatry & Corrections. I aim to fill a SANE coordinator role to educate SANE RNs and be available to this high acuity, specialized, and sensitive patient population. 



Bailey Strausser 


Essay 1:  After attending this conference, I intend to share the information I have learned with my management, colleagues, and nursing students that I help educate. I plan to take the information learned and organize it into a PowerPoint presentation to share with my colleagues.  

By doing so, I will be able to not only grow in my own practice as a nurse, but help foster the growth of my fellow nurses, our nursing unit, as well as the growth of future nurses under my leadership.  

I am also a participant in shared governance councils, which span across multiple units within our facility. By sharing the information with them as well, multiple units could benefit.  

The conference will provide me with knowledge that spans clinical skills, professional development, and evidence-based strategies to better myself and my colleagues. Learning information and sharing it with others will ultimately benefit our patients and improve their quality of care and positive outcomes. 


Essay 2: As briefly stated above, I will take this information gained and turn it into components of my daily nursing practice. I will review evidence-based articles and information presented to me and determine how it can be used to better my practice as well as the nursing unit as a whole. By making small, important changes in my daily routines, I will be able to impact many patients and their care.  

I also feel that sharing information with others will promote discussions and incite others to make changes as well. The conference is an inspiring experience, and I feel that I can bring some of that energy back with me and help to inspire others to make changes as well. I believe that sharing knowledge sparks conversations amongst nurses, and positive changes can then be made. 


Essay 3: After attending the virtual NTI conference this year, I felt inspired to be a better nurse, and a better person. It excited me to take all of the knowledge attained and put it into practice immediately, and also reminded me to care for myself and make sure that I am putting as much effort into my well-being.  

My long-term dream career is to be a professor of nursing at a community college. By attending this conference, I will continue to learn from the best in the nursing community and field, which will help me to grow as a nurse. It will help promote my confidence as a nurse, and push me to expand my practice, and step out of my comfort zone. Ultimately, I feel that being able to attend this conference is a privilege, one that I would be extremely lucky and thankful to have awarded to me. 



Janine Wade Barrueta 


Essay 1:  Fluency in staff diversity and cultural competence is imperative in today's healthcare sector in order to give the best medical care. If I was able to attend this conference, I would share strategies for providing high-quality care to patients while respecting their cultural traditions and beliefs.  

This conference allows organizations to move from diversity plans to actionable strategies, and this information would be disseminated across all teams within my organization to improve health equity. 


Essay 2: I would incorporate what I learned from this conference by holding an in-person learning session at my workplace that would include highlights from the symposium as well as a visual presentation and handouts.  

I would also have the session recorded to reach more staff and spread the important messages from the presentations, and upload the video to social media so patients could see the initiatives my healthcare organization is implementing to provide culturally competent care. 


Essay 3:  This conference would advance my long-term career goals by allowing me to share my passion for the importance of culturally competent care and how it affects populations of color. In the United States, minority populations experience poorer health outcomes and have higher distrust for healthcare providers.  

I would use information from the symposium to diversify my field and regain trust within communities of color. This would allow my almost 20-year career in nursing to move to the next level, and be more education focused.  

I have recently obtained my Masters degree in an effort to advance my career and have a desire to obtain my doctorate so I can use my knowledge and perspective to be a better healthcare provider. 



Krista Wilds 


Essay 1:  With a colleague, I develop and teach the critical care curriculum for the neuro, trauma, CV/transplant and medicine ICUs at St. Louis University Hospital, including didactic education, case studies, simulations, and exams. We also wrote and performed an annual update on a 400-page Critical Care Manual that is in use in all of our ICUs.  

I follow each new nurse during orientation, doing weekly touchpoints and helping them learn clinical patterns and expand on their critical thinking. Everything I learn I bring back to the nurses.  

I am passionate about education and believe that empowered, educated nurses provide the best patient care, and that learning is imperative throughout the nursing career. I am also the chair of our Practice Council at SLUH and I represent my ministry at the St. Louis Regional Practice and SSM System Professional Nursing Practice Councils. With this work, I impact nursing practice, policies, procedural guidelines, and charting systems.  

Attending NTI or another similar conference would help me grow as a nurse and stay current in my field so that my decisions in those councils are more informed and follow best practice. 


Essay 2: Simulation training has become more prominent in the literature recently as an important way to educate new nurses, especially in the wake of Covid when many clinical hours were shortened or missed. Many conferences feature speakers who focus on simulation training, nurse "escape rooms," and other onboarding activities that I can incorporate into the training I develop for our nurses.  

I am currently working on a capstone project in my RN-BSN program, focusing on simulation training for new nurses. Hearing different perspectives about how it was implemented in other ministries and health systems would help me make my project and hospital-based program more robust and comprehensive. 


Essay 3:  I hope to continue my education to become a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the future. In that role, I would continue to train and mentor new nurses in the ICU and also act as an expert resource in my department. To do that effectively, I need to be up to date in my field and as well-rounded as possible.  

With my work with the Nurse Practice Councils and as a charge nurse in my department, I can help impact care decisions, such as switching from NG tube holder devices to bridling devices that prevent tube dislodgements, decrease the incidence of aspiration related to tube migration, and save the patient from many extra x-rays.  

Learning more about products available on the market from vendor fairs helps me understand suggestions that I can make to advance SLUH and SSM in the field of nursing. 



Felicia Zimmer 


Essay 1: I am excited to go in a new direction with my nursing career after I retire from The Philadelphia VA Medical Center this June. I believe that my future colleagues and students will benefit from the cutting edge, state of the art simulation experience and training that I receive at Drexel University, a premier nursing education academic program in Philadelphia. I will share my new knowledge with colleagues in professional capacity while providing simulation training to nursing students. 

Essay 2: In the past, I have taught nursing school in various settings, including LPN, ADN, BSN. Simulation was used in conjunction with live patient care as an educational supplement. During the pandemic, nursing schools were forced to provide academic programs virtually and simulation became a key factor in providing students with hands on practice and knowledge.  

In light of the current nursing faculty shortage, I believe that most academic programs now see the value of simulation training as a desirable primary approach in nursing education. Updating and refreshing my simulation skills will enable me to participate fully in the training and education of our new nurses.  

Additionally, I strongly believe that simulation training is crucial to providing education to combat the nursing shortage by allowing programs to expand or enroll to full capacity.  


Essay 3: I have enjoyed a long and varied nursing career in many specialties. My experience encompasses Emergency Care, Cardiac Care, Perinatal care, Home care, Case Management, Medical-Surgical nursing, education and psychiatric nursing.  

For over 15 years, my focus has been on providing mental health services to Veterans with serious mental illness. Returning to academia and nursing education will enable me to continue to provide a legacy of caring for people, and teaching perspective nurses the highest standards and skills to continue a legacy of caring.  

I am also looking into an opportunity to volunteer in health education in an underserved area. I don't know if this will be possible for me but I believe that my skills would be of benefit. 

Lindsay Greiling
Margaretha Kasim
Carter (Courtney) Kurtas
Stephanie Landrey
Leigh Grzyqacz
Teresa Lewer
Resa Lord
Vivian Atanga Manka'ah
Jesus Medrano
Billi Marie Meli
Marissa Mendoza
Brandi Nelson
Amanda Palmer
Natalie Pratt
Jacquelie Rubinsti-Ayala
Nicole Spooner
Bailey Strausser
Janine Wade Barrueta
Krista Wilds
Felicia Zimmer
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