I attended my first WSNA convention in Seattle in 1981. At the time, I was working in Tacoma in an inpatient psychiatric unit — my first job out of nursing school. I heard about the convention because my facility was represented by WSNA for collective bargaining. It was from that gathering that I knew I wanted to be a part of this association.
The convention was dynamic and full of energy. The speakers’ topics were innovative and challenging. Attendance was impressive, and I was exposed to “movers and shakers” in the world of health care. I met nurses from all over the state; it was the first time I started networking. This was helpful in gathering information about prospective facilities where I was interested in working.
In 1981, Judy Huntington was the president of WSNA. It was amazing how well that woman could speak! I recently visited with Judy to share memories of that convention 40 years ago. After rereading the speech she gave to nurses in 1981, Judy exclaimed, “Oh yes, it was a busy time!”
One of the issues brought forward to the House of Delegates (now known as the General Assembly) was about the entry into practice: Were we setting our goals for the RN entry level to be the baccalaureate degree or the associate degree? Today, we have come a long way on this issue. In 2019, the Washington Center for Nursing reported that 58.9% of practicing RNs statewide have BSN degrees. WSNA began advocating streamlining the process of AD-to-BSN education years ago.
Then and now, the Washington State Nurses Convention is a time to come together and address the greatest challenges of the time and set a course for the future. As Judy said in her 1981 speech, “As individuals, it is impossible to monitor and respond to all the challenges and changes impacting us daily. Yet, the very economy and survival of our profession demands that we do. It is through our nursing associations and our united efforts that we have the greatest potential for power and influence.”
At this year’s Convention, taking place April 28 – 29, we will zero in on the vital issues of today. We’ll consider the Board resolution on diversity, equity and inclusion and have Dr. Ben Danielson speaking about creating a culture of anti-racism in health care. Keynote speakers and panelists will address the experience and lessons of the COVID-19 crisis on nursing. Just as importantly, we’ll hear about cultivating kindness — something we all need right now after what we’ve been through in 2020!
Yes, it will be a virtual meeting, but that will not take away the joy of coming together, sharing stories and advocating for all of us! Our speakers and agenda are vibrant and interesting, and we are working to instill a sense that we’re all coming together to support each other and celebrate our accomplishments. The Washington State Nurses Convention will not be a disappointment.
I look forward to (virtually) seeing you all April 28 and 29!