Radford hosts statewide nursing conventions for future nurses

VNSA keynoter Melody Eaton
Keynote speaker Melody Eaton, commissioner on nursing education for the Virginia Nurses Association, highlighted the 64th annual VNSA convention, hosted by Radford University's School of Nursing.

To prepare for service as nurses and health care providers, more than 500 students from across Virginia convened at Radford University Feb. 6 for the 64th annual state convention of the Virginia Nursing Students Association (VNSA).

Hosted by the RU School of Nursing (SON) and the Student Nurses Organizations (SNO) from RU's Radford and Roanoke campuses, the convention featured technical presentations, professional development activities and networking opportunities.

“The fire of learning about the art and science of nursing burns bright among these young professionals,” said SON Director Tony Ramsey.

The VNSA is a student-managed organization representing future nurses from the 75 nursing education programs throughout Virginia.

"You are in great demand and there are a lot of opportunities for you in the nursing profession during these interesting times in health care," said keynote speaker Melody Eaton, commissioner on nursing education for the Virginia Nurses Association.

Eaton recounted the challenges facing the nursing profession such as the changes resulting from the Affordable Health Care Act and the aging baby boomer population.

"We are not going down easy," she said of the generation born between 1946 and 1964 who will make up a big part of the future nurses' patients. "We are great drivers of patient-centered health care. We are educated and demanding."

Eaton talked about the critical role played by nurses today, both to the patient and the health care system.

“Your assessment and planning makes a real difference to the level of care a patient receives,” Eaton said. “You can make a difference at the bedside, in the community and in the profession.”

The conference, titled “Inspiration Today for a Healthier Tomorrow,” was a year-long collaborative effort of the VNSA student board and the 70 members of Radford‘s SNO’s; advised by Nursing Instructor Kemberly Campbell in Radford and Associate Professor of Nursing Sharla Cooper in Roanoke. Radford’s Jessica Henwood, a junior nursing student, was elected to the VNSA 2016-17 Board of Directors as Public Relations Officer at the convention’s legislative session. 

The nursing students from UVa, George Mason, JMU, VCU, Shenandoah and Longwood Universities, Lynchburg College and various Virginia community colleges attended almost 40 breakout sessions on topics ranging from NCLEX test preparation to professional development to technical topics such as nurse midwifery, oncology nursing, pediatric nursing and military nursing. Among the presenters were Radford University SON faculty Ellen Birx and Linda Ely, who co-presented a breakout session on integrated health care with Radford junior nursing student Holly Sanford.

Junior Kelly Jan, one of 180 JMU nursing students in attendance, said, "This was a great chance to find out more about the real world of nursing and make new connections with my future colleagues."

Feb 18, 2016