CEO Corner."Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
--Margaret Mead, American cultural anthropologist
During the fall GNA Board meeting, Board members and staff reviewed the GNA strategic plan that was approved by the 2007 Membership Assembly to chart progress and to explore and assign remaining work to be accomplished. This meeting was held at the annual convention site of the Georgia Association of Student Nurses (GANS). One of the objectives in the GNA strategic plan includes staying in touch with the issues and concerns of the emerging nursing workforce and encouraging interaction with students. Several GNA Board members presented a panel to the students on leadership during the GANS convention and attended GANS meal functions. GNA staff hosted a booth in the exhibit hall. With GNA President Cindy Balkstra and other GNA Board Members' frequent invitations to speak to student classes, and the participation of the GNA Board at the GANS annual convention and the lobby day workshop planned for January, GNA is making great connections with students. Mark your calendars for GNA's Legislative Day at the State Capitol, which will be held Tuesday, January 27, 2009. The popular addition of the student program from last year will be repeated, including a GNA morning workshop for students conducted by the GNA President and the GNA Director of Legislation & Public Policy, followed by an afternoon of GNA members and students visiting legislators in their offices. This popular new format has replaced the past tradition of the evening reception. Space for the student workshop is limited to 400. Group reservations by faculty members for their students will be required and accepted on a first come/first-served/space available basis. You can find more information about Lobby Day and GNA's legislative platform on GNA's web site www. georgianurses.org.
This summer and fall GNA staff devoted time and resources to bring leadership specific to another student issue that negatively affects Excelsior College students in Georgia. As reported elsewhere in this publication, effective July 1, 2008, the Georgia Board of Nursing members initiated a change that would prevent licensure-by-endorsement for Excelsior graduates (a policy that has been in effect for the past three decades). If this decision remains, it will further exacerbate the nursing shortage in our state and is understandably frustrating for Excelsior students who hope to practice in Georgia. GNA has proactively worked with the students, Excelsior College, state legislators, the Lt. Governor's office, the Governor's office, the media, employers and the GBON to help support a solution. The Georgia Board of Nursing agreed that GNA, in collaboration with the Dean of Excelsior's School of Nursing, would have an opportunity to present a case for the students about the award-winning, accredited Excelsior College School of Nursing program at the September GBON meeting. GNA provided six representatives in attendance for that presentation along with Excelsior's three representatives, including the President of the College and the Dean for Excelsior College SON. Hundreds and hundreds of Excelsior students expressed interest in attendance. There are 1100 Georgia students enrolled currently in Excelsior. GNA staff has kept the students informed and responded to hundreds of phone calls and emails related to this matter. GNA administers the Southern Performance Assessment Center for the clinical assessment of Excelsior students and has done so since 1980.
One of GNA/ANA's core competencies is legislation and public policy. It is important work and requires vigilance. In the GNA President's article in this edition you will note several policy positions GNA has taken recently. Even with an engaging and historical U.S. presidential election behind us, there continues to be political work that needs to be done related to the nursing profession and health care reform. Nursing's voice in these reforms is imperative at national and local levels. Working with Michael McCann and GNA staff, GNA lobbyists Jay Morgan and Wendi Clifton continue to professionally represent GNA on these matters throughout the year not just during the legislative session. Jay and Wendi's good work most recently has included fostering communications with legislators, Lt. Governor's staff, Governor's staff and the Secretary of State's staff related to the GBON/ Excelsior issue.
To continue to support the other diverse work of the membership, we have filled two vacant GNA professional staff positions. Jeremy Arieh is the Director of Marketing & Communications, a position previously held by Jodi Weber. In the weeks since his official start, Jeremy has developed this issue of Georgia Nursing, facilitated communications with local media about the Excelsior College/GBON issue, attended the GANS Convention and October GNA Board meeting in Columbus, followed by an orientation program at ANA's headquarters in DC. He comes to GNA from the Georgia Senate staff, where he worked for four years as Deputy Director of the Senate Press Office. Prior to that, Jeremy spent time as a freelance writer for Creative Loafing in Atlanta and worked as an editor of a trade publication. He has nearly a decade of media and media relations experience. He and his wife Mala live in Atlanta and have two children. Wendy McGar is GNA's new Director of Member Services and Events (formerly Sylvia Smith's role). Wendy also participated in the strategic plan review with the GNA Board of Directors in October and assisted with the GNA exhibit booth at the GANS convention. Wendy most recently worked for an international association management company in the role of Associate Director for an association/foundation and was previously an Assistant Executive Director for an association where she worked for five years. Wendy's husband is a professional chef and the family lives in Marietta.
Jeremy and Wendy are quickly getting oriented and look forward to serving the membership.
The holiday season will be upon us quickly. Thanksgiving is a particularly good time to make sure we thank all of our members and volunteers for the support of your time and treasure and in the confidence you have place in us. On behalf of the GNA staff we wish each of you a healthy holiday season enjoying life's simple pleasures!
Dates to mark your 2009 calendar include:
January 1, 2009--Bylaws require that all GNA Chapters send headquarters the name and contact information of their current Chapter Chair. January 27, 2009--GNA Lobby Day (information and legislative platform located at www.georgianurses.org).
October 7-9, 2009--GNA 2009 Membership Assembly (tentative site location is Athens, GA).
by Deborah Hackman, CAE