I'm happy to have the opportunity to update you on some of the activities ASPMN® has been involved in over the last few weeks. Your Board of Directors as well as colleagues on the various committees are moving forward and working hard to continue the volunteer work that is so essential to the growth and impact of ASPMN®.
A meeting of the Board was held last month, and I'd like to bring you up-to-date on a couple of the items we addressed at the meeting and actions we are undertaking. ASPMN® is reaching out to other nursing organizations to network, increase our visibility among nurses in other associations to promote collaboration and increase membership, advertise our National Conference, and seek opportunities to share our products such as our Regional Conferences (Fundamentals of Pain Management, Certification Review, Pain management of the Older Adult, and Advanced Pharmacology). We have begun fruitful dialogue as of now with the National Association of Orthopedic Nurses and the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association. We look forward to mutually beneficial collaboration with these associations and others in the future.
During the Board meeting we reviewed our financial status, and discussed ways to continue to strengthen our financial reserves. One area that has been hard-hit by the pandemic is the income we previously received from our regional conferences. If new to ASPMN®, it's important to know what the regional conferences involve. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, ASPMN® has several regional conferences which are educational offerings (usually full-day) involving different content areas that have been developed by our Master Faculty. Usually two faculty members travel to the organization's location to present the program. Material is prepared to enable application for continuing education credits. Organizations that purchase a regional conference are able to invite as many participants to the conference as they would like. Now that we are starting to see opportunities for travel and in-person events, we ask you to let your nursing leadership and leadership of other organizations of which you are a part, know that we have expert faculty and great programs to educate nurses at a hospital or other site. Although we market our programs through social media and other ways, we rely on our membership to provide the strongest recommendations.
The Conference Planning Committee is working diligently to finalize the planning for our National Conference. At the Board meeting we had the opportunity to have a sneak preview of the preliminary conference agenda, and it looks fantastic. For our in-person conference, the committee has put together a great line-up of general session topics and expert speakers to address a variety of topics relevant to all. Opportunities have been built in for networking as well as fun and relaxation – something we all need after the past 15 months! In addition, the committee is preparing virtual on-demand sessions rich with educational content and continuing educational credits. More details about how the conference will take place will be provided in the coming month, but for now, we are hoping National efforts for COVID-19 vaccination continue to be effective and the positivity rates stay low so that we can have a great in-person turn out in San Antonio on Sept 20 – Oct 2, 2021. The Board, the conference planning committee and our Executive Office Staff, are committed to doing all we can to assure the safety of our conference attendees, so please keep the dates in mind, and watch for updates in the coming weeks!
At the Board meeting, I summarized my experience from April when I had the honor of representing ASPMN® week at the Nurses in Washington Internship (NIWI) program which is offered through the Nursing Organizations Alliance (NOA). ASPMN® is a member of NOA, an organization comprised of other 50 nursing associations, whose mission is to "connect elected and staff leaders of professional nursing organizations to inspire, collaborate, and provide a forum for information exchange and the sharing of resources and best practices." In furthering its mission, NOA sponsors NIWI annually to provides nurses with the opportunity to learn how to influence health care through the legislative and regulatory processes. Many of our Past-Presidents attended NIWI and had opportunities to visit with members of Congress "on the Hill."
This year, NIWI was a two-day long virtual program which enabled me to attend lectures provided by health policy experts and government officials. I was inspired by the lectures but disappointed by the loss of opportunities to network with nurses from other organizations and visit, in-person, with members of Congress. Unfortunately, there were no "photo ops," but we have all gotten better with virtual meetings this year.
As an alternative to in-person meetings, I had a telephone meeting with staff who work with Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senator Majority Leader. Wade Delk, ASPMN®'s Government Affairs Director and I also had a virtual meeting with a staff member of Representative Mondaire Jones. During these meetings, Wade and I requested support for increased funding for Title VIII to support nursing education at all levels, as well funding for the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR). We urged support for adoption of the National Pain Strategy to further efforts to provide appropriate, effective, and safe pain management for all. We emphasized the importance of funding for multimodal pain management interventions, and the essential role of nurses, as the most trusted health care professionals, in efforts to bring health care, especially pain care, to all in this country. The staff were engaged and acknowledged the key role nurses play in health care, and recognized the great efforts and sacrifices nurses have made throughout this pandemic. The feedback from the officials was encouraging, and the door was left open for further conversations, hopefully in person, in the future.
On a personal level, the lectures and meetings gave me a greater appreciation of our democracy and my responsibility to advocate for our patients with pain, and for nurses who care for them. Living in NY, I am within 5 miles of Senator Schumer's local office. Washington, D.C. is a return trip I can make in a day. As the COVID-19 vaccination process expands, it is expected that Congress will be back in full-swing in D.C. in the near future, and it will offer me opportunities to visit our representatives in person. The meeting also allowed me to see Wade Delk in action. As a result, I have a much greater appreciation of his knowledge, skill, and commitment to ASPMN®, as well as the important role he and the other members of our Communication Committee have in supporting the mission of ASPMN®. I am proud of their work and am impressed by how well a small nursing organization can be made known at a national level by the work of Wade and the committee. Think of the possibilities if more nurses were empowered to use their voices on a national policy level!
I would not have had the opportunity to attend NIWI, and the voice of nurses would not be well received in Washington if it were not for the impact nurses like you have on all those you encounter at work and in your personal lives. The past six months as ASPMN® President have given me a glimpse into the work that you do and the commitment you have to helping people with pain. I am grateful for this opportunity and wish you the beginning of a healthy, restorative, and fun summer season.