Attending My First Professional Conference
By Simone Gayle
On June 25, 2017, I had the opportunity to attend my first professional conference in New Orleans, LA (NOLA). This conference was an AWHONN conference, and as such it specialized in Women’s Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal practices. The conference was such an inspiring experience, not only because there was the opportunity to meet other professionals in my field, but I also got a chance to spend quality time with my NYP co-workers. To get the week started, the conference started out with very energetic speaker. Kevin Sowers, President of Duke Hospital, discussed his journey from being a floor nurse to where he is today. He challenged the conference attendees to fond our purpose. His question: “What is your purpose?” truly resonated with me and prompted me to consider my own purpose within my professional and personal lives.
As the week continued, I took part in many interesting and diverse workshops, one of which included providing culturally competent healthcare to LGBTQ+ patients. Whatever your interests, there was a workshop with current data, (safe practicing) and up-to-date statistics. I mostly attended sessions that were detailed and dealt with care specific to the patients I care for.
The week was chalk-full of inspiring speakers, one of which mentioned the concept of being a “courageous follower”. While most people believe that to have an impact you must be a leader, I learned that the success of a team requires the effort of many. Leaders would not be leaders without the courage of those who defy convention to follow them!
A few of the other workshops I attended concentrated on a variety of subjects and also had interesting titles, such as: “How Early is Too Early?”, “In Defense of Nurses”, “Depression in the Post-partum Period” and “Labor Support for Every Woman”.
Having gone to these workshops will help me implement the best possible practices and overall care for my patients. Jaine Weideman said it best, “giving birth should be your greatest achievement not your greatest fear.”
After working on OB for over seven years, this conference was just what I needed to reinvigorate my interest and passion about my career. Almost like a seven-year-itch, often referred to in the context of marriage, I was desperately in need to revamp my outlook on OB. This conference gave me insight into how I can impact my patients, co-workers, the larger NYP organization, and myself. After this conference, I no longer want to divorce my career. My personal transformation during the week in NOLA made me truly believe that professional conferences, such as these, would be extraordinarily helpful to any nurse, in any practice.
Alongside a new-found love for OB, I was also able to spend an amazing five days in NOLA with my co-workers, and now, friends! We did not only gain priceless knowledge, but we received tons of free samples from the over 210 vendors present. We ate delicious food, toured the city, which gave us perspective on Hurricane Katrina as well as New Orleans’ rich history. After all of this, a visit to Bourbon St. and Café Dumont, this conference surpassed my expectations.
In conclusion, I did realize my purpose: it is the joy I feel in helping others. Whether I am assisting a fellow nurse with charting, or caring for a patient, giving a maternity tour, or setting up a collection for a baby shower, retirement, or bereavement, I love every minute of it.
Most of all, taking care of patients is why I walk into work with a smile each shift. My time at the conference made me realize how passionate I am about caring for others. This realization has made me more engaged as a nurse, mother and employee.
Dodi Gauthier, one of the conference speakers left us with a quotation that I haven’t been able to stop repeating. It is not simply important, but constantly relevant and allows us to keep our motivations and consequently our actions in perspective. “Old ways won’t open new doors.”