I had a unique experience recently, the opportunity to represent informatics nurses at the 65th Annual National Student Nurses Association Convention in Dallas TX. It was a déjà vu moment as 3,000 student nurses flooded into the Exhibit Hall and in my mind, the years fell away. In 1976, I was in their place, a 21-year-old nursing student, president of my school’s chapter of NSNA and a delegate to the convention. Back then, I had my career and life all mapped out, become an ED nurse for my entire career and never to go back to school again. The concept of nursing informatics was not on my radar at all nor in most nurses’ vocabulary. It would be another 17 years before the American Nurses Association would recognize nursing informatics as a specialty practice.
Looking back from a vantage point 40 years in the future—I can pick out the critical activities that have led me to this point. Active professional association involvement is in my Top 3. The opportunities that looked to others as if they fell into my lap were actually the result of many years of hard work, especially volunteering with various professional associations…from reactivating the Student Nurses Association chapter at my school, to my years with the Emergency Nurses Association working with folks like Vicki Bradley who later grew into Dr. Victoria Bradley and Steve Lieber who became President and CEO at HIMSS, to being President of one of the largest chapters of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau. Serving two years on the Nursing Informatics Committee at HIMSS and nearly four years on the American Nursing Informatics Association National Board of Directors have been so rewarding.
As I move to the next phase of my career, one of my joys is mentoring the next generation of nurse leaders. One of my recommendations is always to make the time to serve as a volunteer for your professional associations. The friendships, collegial relationships and networking opportunities have returned my investment of time a thousand fold. Happy National Nurses Week y’all!
Nurses Week 2017
About the Contributor
Cheryl D. Parker, Cheryl D. Parker, RN, MSN, PhD, FHIMSS, is Chief Nursing Informatics Officer at PatientSafe Solutions, Inc.