NEW YORK NURSE: September 2009
by Erin Silk
When a president steps down from their post at NYSNA, years of formal leadership may end, but guidance continues with participation in the Past Presidents Advisory Group.
Originally current president Linda O’Brien’s brainchild to harness the experience of past leaders of NYSNA, the Past Presidents Advisory Group is a “think tank” created to share ideas and support the president in achieving the mission and vision of the association. O’Brien recognizes that there is “a wealth of knowledge to be gleaned from this group. As president of an association this size, the completion of your term in office doesn’t mean that you no longer have something valuable to offer the future leaders of NYSNA.” It’s O’Brien’s hope that this group, representing both upstate and downstate, will meet face-to-face at least once a year, possibly with a special gathering at Convention, and then teleconference as needed.
The advisory group recently met for the first time with O’Brien and President-elect Karen Ballard and issues were outlined for future discussion. Past presidents attending the meeting included Elaine Beletz, Nettie Birnbach, Verlia Brown, Mary Eileen (Mel) Callan, Phyllis Collins, Susan Fraley, Juanita Hunter, Barbara Joyce, Cecilia Mulvey, Madeline Naegle, and Marva Wade.
The ailing economy was considered as a factor in the current practice environment that both motivates and prevents nurses from joining NYSNA. Advisory group participants called attention to the low levels of faculty membership, suggesting that this group could be more directly cultivated. The professional socialization of students was discussed and it was noted that regardless of representation for bargaining, NYSNA is in the position to assist new graduates in managing the hospital environment, a benefit of membership that should be highlighted.
The past presidents agreed that the association must continue to market membership benefits that are not offered by other associations, such as continuing education, lobbying, peer assistance, and library resources. “We are concerned with finding new ways to get information out to non-members about why NYSNA is relevant to their practice,” said O’Brien.
The NYSNA Leadership Academy was created to assist members with professional and personal growth. Roni Cummings, associate director, Education, Practice and Research Program, reported on the Leadership Academy, highlighting its mentorship component, which assigns a mentor to each participant. It was suggested that members of the NYSNA Leadership Institute could be asked to assist in the area of mentoring new members.
The advisory group addressed several concerns of NYSNA delegates to the American Nurses Association House of Delegates. These included the lack of sufficient time for the house to conduct business, effectiveness of the virtual house, levels of understanding of bylaw amendments, and the delegates overall preparation. It was noted that these matters were raised at the November 2008 ANA Constituent Assembly meeting. O’Brien reported that the ANA Business Arrangements Task Force is studying the potential impact on ANA and its affiliates should ANA not retain its labor organization status in the future.
In addition to reviewing the National Federation of Nurses (NFN) constitution, the past presidents discussed ways to increase participation in NYSNA’s voting body. O’Brien would like to see more past presidents run for the ANA House of Delegates.
NYSNA’s ongoing assistance to districts through educational sessions on recruitment, marketing, and leadership development; e-leaRN™ offerings; individual and student affiliate information; and legislative priorities for the remainder of 2009 were also discussed.
The Past Presidents Advisory Group hopes to gather again at Convention in October to further discuss and support future initiatives.