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  1. Heldt, Katie RN, MHA

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In 2010, the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma (EAST) Foundation Board partnered with the Society of Trauma Nurses (STN) to establish a Nurse Fellow program for the Annual EAST Scientific Assembly. The purpose of the Fellowship is to support a rising star among trauma nurse leaders to serve as an "on the ground" reporter at the EAST Scientific Assembly. In addition, the recipient is provided opportunities to do in-person interviews with key leaders of both the STN and the EAST during the Fellowship experience. Kate FitzPatrick, the first nurse appointed to the EAST Foundation Board and currently serving a second term, developed the concept with Dr Samir Fahkry, along with input from the STN Board Executive Committee. The Fellowship is funded by donations made to the EAST Foundation Board and contributors have the option to direct funds to the Fellowship. The report for 2012 follows.


In January 2012, I had the honor and pleasure of attending the 25th Annual Scientific Assembly of the EAST, in the role of Nurse Fellow as part of a collaborative effort between the STN and the EAST Foundation and Board. When I was notified that I had been chosen as Nurse Fellow, I had no idea of the impact this experience would have on me.


My mentor, Kate FitzPatrick, and Sarah Clements from the STN worked closely with me, providing the history of the Nurse Fellow program, developing a schedule, arranging meetings with leaders in trauma care, and guiding me through the blogging process. Amber Kyle, the Nurse Fellow from 2011, was always close by taking me under her wing and making sure I was introduced to trauma leaders, and ensuring I felt comfortable in my role. I would be remiss if I did not thank these ladies along with Pam Bowerman and Christine Eme for making my experience one that I will never forget.


The purpose of the STN-EAST Foundation Nurse Fellow Program is to provide exposure of trauma nurses to the EAST Scientific Assembly and gain access to key leaders in trauma care. My trauma medical director, Dr Jim Swegle, and I had discussed EAST meetings and information he had obtained at the meetings several times. It was my understanding, on the basis of our conversations, that the EAST meeting was primarily a "physician meeting." When I signed in at the registration desk, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the meeting was attended, not only by physicians, but also by many nurses, advanced practice nurse providers, as well as health care providers at other practice levels. I immediately knew that the EAST conference obviously had something to offer for all health care providers.


Each day started early by attending 1 of the 5 Sunrise Sessions that were offered. Basing my choice of Sunrise Session attendance on the advice I received from a peer made determining which session to attend slightly easier. My peer told me, "Whenever I attend a conference it is my goal to load my brain with as much knowledge as it will hold." My tendency was to go to the sessions that interested me, and I had some basic knowledge about prior to the conference. Each session that I attended afforded me the opportunity not only to load my brain but also to network with others, and consider how some of the ideas presented could be incorporated in trauma care at our organization.


The STN has a renewed commitment to research. The abstracts that were presented each day demonstrated the importance of research and improving the care of trauma patients. Several presentations stirred my interest, and upon returning to work, we contacted some of the presenters for additional information about their study. Everyone we contacted was gracious and more than willing to share their information with us.


No conference would be complete without receptions, lunches, and dinners. These venues were where I was fortunate enough to meet many of the leaders in trauma care. These were people I had only read about or heard about and I was able to discuss the nuts and bolts of trauma care with them from their visionary standpoint. This was quite an honor. At this point I knew this was a conference I would attempt to attend every year.


I have always been proud to be a nurse. After attending the EAST Scientific Assembly, I am prouder than ever to say I am a trauma nurse. My experience as a nurse fellow provided me with education, new ideas for implementation, networking opportunities, and renewed admiration for trauma care providers.


Thank you to the STN, the EAST Foundation and Board, and everyone who made it a reality for me to serve as the nurse fellow in 2012. I would recommend that all trauma programs send a trauma nurse to the EAST conference regularly.