Monday, November 9, 2015

The Biennial Convention: One place in town where you can’t lose!

I like to play blackjack. I’m not addicted to gambling. I’m addicted to sitting in a semicircle.
— Mitch Hedberg

Gaming machines and poker lounge at Aria Resort and Casino.

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that, until now, I haven’t spent much time in Vegas. So, unlike Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler,” I haven’t had much reason to develop a poker face. Back when CB radios were the hottest social medium goin’ and the marketing department at 3M, where I worked at the time, used the craze to promote team building, I was assigned the “handle” Smiley. If given a choice, I might have chosen a more tough-guy moniker, but I took what I was dealt and, over time, decided there are worse names.

Although I am not a gambler, I recognize that “The Gambler” deals some great wisdom with his “know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run.” Those are life lessons we all need to know, and nurses have to know a whole ‘nother set of “know whens” to do their jobs effectively.

Which is why the 43rd Biennial Convention is such a great place for nurses to be. Here in Las Vegas, some win big, some win something, some lose a bit of spare change, and others lose their shirts. Not so at the 43rd Biennial Convention! Here, everybody’s a winner! It’s a win-win, a sure bet, one you can’t lose. You get the idea.

Today’s reports and reflections all relate to “place,” and Daniel Oerther kicks it off with the question, “What’s the value of a place?”
— James Mattson, editor, Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL)

What's the value of a place?

By Daniel B. Oerther, PhD, PE, BCEE, honorary member of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International and Jefferson Science Fellow in the U.S. Department of State, is the John A. and Susan Mathes Chair of Environmental Health Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

In a digitally connected world, every international organization must ask itself this important question: What’s the value of a place? On Sunday, as a member of the board of directors of the STTI Building Corporation, I had a chance to spend time sharing answers to this question.

Dan Oerther at the board meeting of the STTI Building Corporation.

For the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), some of the answers are obvious: We were founded in Indianapolis, and we return every four years for alternating biennial meetings. We value our online “places,” including The Circle, webinars and Snap Sessions. And, of course, we continue to value our opportunities to gather together at chapter meetings. Those special face-to-face times are still important!

But have you taken time to think about the less obvious answers to this question? For example, did you know that our “experiment” with a regional STTI office in South Africa went well? In fact, it went so well that we’re extending the relationship in South Africa, and we’re expanding to establish additional offices in Brussels and Singapore, as stated in President Klopper’s Opening Plenary remarks. The “places” for our educational and research meetings as well as our academies and institutes are expanding globally. In fact, STTI is undergoing tremendous change in how we consider the value of a “place” when we strive to meet the needs of our diverse membership around the world.

Our meeting here in Las Vegas has benefited from a wonderful “place” in the beautiful Aria Resort and Casino. Yet, STTI is a global organization, and some of our members live and work in conditions very different from what we have experienced at the Aria. So, this evening, after a wonderful day at the conference, I’m reminiscing about the value we assign to “places” that reflect the history of our organization. I’m thankful for the value we find in the “places” we have available for our use today, and I’m daydreaming about the value we will find in the “places” where Sigma Theta Tau International will grow globally.

What's so special about the Marketplace? 

By Sharon M. Weinstein, MS, RN, CRNI-R, FACW, FAAN, CSP, co-author of Nursing Without Borders: Values, Wisdom, Success Markers, and B is for Balance: 12 Steps Toward a More Balanced Life at Home and at Work (Second Edition).

For Sharon Weinstein (seated), the
Marketplace is a social experience.
When I think of a market, I often think of the marketplaces in small towns and large cities that I visited in the New Independent States of the Former Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe. Affectionately called flea markets, these were so much more! Some could put our own flea markets to shame. Think an outdoor Costco or Sam’s Club, offering personal items that include silver and china, furnishings that hold special memories, electrical items, toys, books, and jewelry.

Weinstein with Marketplace shopper. 
Beyond the shopping experience, I truly enjoyed the social experience—the opportunity to learn from others, mingle with locals, practice my Russian language skills (with only four days of lessons), and accompany nurse colleagues from across the globe who were visiting these countries for the first time and becoming familiar with the thrill of the marketplace excursion. Over the course of 10 years, I spent many a Sunday at these markets.

The Marketplace at STTI Biennial Conventions is different. This market goes beyond shopping to include networking—interacting and reconnecting with colleagues from the global STTI community. The jewelry, signature apparel, embellished gifts, office items, and books entice shoppers—novice to expert—to part with their dollars and support their Honor Society of Nursing. The Marketplace provides users an opportunity to make and cultivate relationships with like-minded colleagues. In just one hour, I met friends from years past, reconnected with chapter members, networked with STTI leadership, chatted with fellow nurse authors, and perused the special offers. And yes, I did shop!

Just browsing.
With our emphasis on social media, we often forget the value of in-person networking. That’s why attending the Biennial Convention and visiting the Marketplace is the ideal way to mix mingling and shopping. This year’s Marketplace did not disappoint seasoned shoppers; rather, it reaffirmed this tradition’s value. As I perused the items for sale, including the books, observed the book signings, and took in the atmosphere, I knew that I was within my element. This was so much more than a shopping experience; it was my very own social experience, Sigma style!

The STTI Career Center:
The place to go for career advice

By Lois S. Marshall, PhD, RN, nurse education consultant and NCLEX expert, is the author of Take Charge of Your Nursing Career: Open the Door to Your Dreams; coordinator, Career Development Center, National Student Nurses Association; and coordinator, Career Management Center, STTI.

Sunday and Monday brought more than 100 members through the STTI Career Center. With faculty advisers volunteering their time, members had the opportunity to ask career questions and discuss concerns with a diverse group of seasoned members. Many advisees had scheduled appointments ahead of the convention, while others were accommodated on a walk-in basis. They were diverse in age, ethnicity, state or country of origin, position, career goals, and so much more. Enthusiastic and, for some, nervous about future endeavors, they were glad that convention planners provided a place where they could go to have their questions and concerns addressed by experts.

Lois Marshall (left) and staff members of the STTI Career Center.

How does one decide the next career step? The STTI Career Center provides a much-needed venue for members to learn about advancing their educations, obtaining international funding, and changing career trajectories. In response to inquiries, resources and contacts were suggested and brainstorming about research, networking, and potential career paths ensued. From advancing their careers in clinical, education, administration, research, leadership and so much more, In all career areas—clinical, educational, administrative, and research—inquirers found counselors at the STTI Career Center useful sounding boards. When exact information was unavailable, connections were made for follow up.

No one was turned away, even those without scheduled appointments. In fact, even after the center officially closed on Monday, group sessions accommodated those desiring career advice. Enthusiasm was palpable, and smiles ubiquitous, as was give and take of ideas, information, and advice. It was a great two days.

Remember: Although your career belongs to you and your career path is unique, you don’t have to know everything about how to achieve your career goals. The STTI Career Center is the place to go for assistance. Just ask the members who participated.

Special thanks to Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future for its financial support of the STTI Career Center.

Meet the editors ...

Dustin Sullivan, publisher, talks to potential authors about STTI publications.
Susan Gennaro, editor of Journal of Nursing Scholarship, and Bernadette Melnyk, editor of Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing, converse with potential authors.
Members wait their turn to meet Gennaro and Melnyk.
James Mattson, editor of Reflections on Nursing Leadership, answers
questions about the honor society's online magazine.

Gennaro talks with another inquirer.
Karen Roush, book author and RNL contributor, talks with STTI publisher
Dustin Sullivan.

More convention photos ...

Fitness for Research

Session presentations

Chapter Recognition Awards

Founders Awards Celebration