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Authors

  1. Vanore, Marla L. RN, MHA President, Society of Trauma Nurses

Article Content

As I continue in my career in nursing, I am more and more impressed by the potential power of this profession. There are almost 3 million nurses in the United States alone. By and large, nurses are intelligent, well-educated, and caring individuals, and the public frequently votes the nursing profession as one of the most trusted groups of individuals.

 

Despite all that we have to offer, we still struggle with realizing our vast collective power. However, one way to begin to recognize and use our influence is to join and become active in professional organizations. For many, this may mean joining an organization, whereas for others, it means making the leap from dues-paying member to active participant. This can be an intimidating step. There may be a fear of failure, insecurity concerning our abilities, or concern about time commitments. However, having the courage to make this leap is also immensely rewarding and it is your way not only to excel at your job, build your abilities and self-confidence, but also to begin to have a wider circle of influence.

 

I am delighted to be starting my term as President of the Society of Trauma Nurses (STN) during such an exciting time in the development of this organization. Just as we need to challenge ourselves to stretch and grow, the STN has taken up the challenge to do the same.

 

Over the last year, the STN has taken a number of giant steps forward in the continuing development of this organization. In July 2005, we moved from a one-person staff that helped us to manage and lead this group to a management contract with The Center for Association Growth based in Glenview, Illinois. This management firm gives us access to an increased depth and breadth of resources so that we can give you, the membership, improved service and focus on helping the organization grow while still keeping in touch with the needs of our members.

 

The second major change over the last year has been to contract with Lippincott Williams and Wilkins to publish the Journal of Trauma Nursing (JTN). JTN has always been a valued resource to all trauma nurses and we are hoping that with this inaugural issue the journal will become even more important to your daily practice.

 

Finally, the Board of Directors participated in a strategic planning session, which allowed the Board to further define the STN, and acknowledge who our members are and resolve who our members should be. The STN originated mainly as a vehicle for Trauma Program Coordinators to network and develop as a group. Over the years, we have continued to be a valuable resource for Trauma Program Coordinators, Managers, and Directors. However, as trauma systems and trauma centers have grown and matured, we have begun to attract many other nurses involved in trauma. This includes educators, research nurses, advanced practice nurses, including clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners. Through Advanced Trauma Care for Nurses (ATCN), we have also reached many clinical managers and bedside nurses. After much passionate discussion, it was agreed that the STN is an organization for the Trauma Nurse Leader.

 

What is a Trauma Nurse Leader? As we discussed this concept, it became clear that a Trauma Nurse Leader is any trauma nurse in a leadership role but it is also any trauma nurse who is a leader in their practice. This encompasses much more than the Trauma Program Manager. It includes all of the groups mentioned above, the educators, the advanced practice nurse, and the bedside nurse who is a leader in her or his clinical practice. It is more of an attitude than a job description. We continue to see our scope as including nurses from the entire spectrum of trauma care, prehospital through to reintegration into society. However, with this decision, we have defined which nurses in these areas that we need to speak to and support. Consequently, the challenge for the STN is to maintain and develop practices and programs that can address the needs of trauma nursing leaders in all of your diverse roles. This may be to provide you the tools such as the ATCN or the Electronic Library of Lectures to teach other trauma nurses or it may be to help administrators, managers, and coordinators directly by providing courses such as the Trauma Outcomes and Performance Improvement Course (TOPIC) and the very successful business course presented in Chicago last October.

 

As I begin my term as President, the Board of Directors and I have a number of goals that build on the accomplishments listed above. First and foremost, we want to continue the strong, steady growth in membership that we have been experiencing, and at the same time, continue to increase member satisfaction. Over the past couple of years, we have asked for your opinions concerning what you need and want from the STN. We have done this through our membership survey and through feedback from our many Special Interest Groups. In order to respond to many of your requests, we first needed to build the infrastructure to support some of these changes. Although we continue to work on the transition, the shift to our new management firm and Lippincott Williams and Wilkins has moved us much closer. Some of your requests have been to increase the number and quality of members-only benefits, continue the development of state and region activity, and create opportunities where members can participate more in STN activities. We have heard these comments and continue to evolve to meet your requests. As we continue to grow, however, we also want to ensure that we do not lose the essence of the STN. Many members belong because we are a smaller, more accessible group than other larger organizations. We are choosing to carefully manage our growth so that we can maintain this atmosphere while still continuing to develop.

 

Hand in hand with membership growth is organizational growth and development. As discussed, we have been working on this intently. As we grow, more and more opportunities present themselves to us. We are continuing to develop ways to address and analyze these opportunities. We plan on building on the long-term strategic planning that has already been accomplished. For example, knowing who we are and whom we need to serve clarifies the choices that we need to make. We cannot be all things to all people and be successful. Over the last few years, benchmarking has helped us in making some of our decisions. Our plan is to continue to benchmark and to widen the circle that we benchmark ourselves against. There are many groups that we can examine and learn from, physician and nursing groups, as well as a whole host of other nonprofit organizations that exist and share many of our concerns. Of course, as we compare our selves to others, we continue to make choices that maintain our own identity.

 

In order to accomplish all of our goals, we need to learn ways to run the organization efficiently. There are a number of ways that we can ensure that the STN functions efficiently. Strategic planning and using the strategic plan to guide development is one way to accomplish this goal. Use of computerization is also vital to increase efficiency. We have already upgraded the membership database and increased our electronic capabilities by engaging The Center for Association Growth. The next major challenge will focus on updating the STN Web site and improving how it works for us. Finally, we need to find ways to have more members actively involved in the organization. Previously as a relatively small organization, the Board of Directors not only made decisions, they implemented most of the decisions. This not only contributed to some very tired board members, but it kept the opportunities to participate in some very exciting projects to a small number of people. If we are to grow and to serve you, the members, we need to ensure that our membership has every opportunity to participate in projects and activities. The board members are there to guide and mentor but we want you to volunteer and participate fully in your organization.

 

Finally, over the next 2 years, I would like to continue to grow STN's span of influence. There are a number of ways that we can do this. Primarily, serving our members and helping you to be ambassadors of the STN is a big step in this direction. Building on the great foundation that the STN and the past editors of JTN has established, we plan to continue to grow JTN's influence by increasing the number of articles published and maintaining and improving the quality. This greatly benefits the STN as a whole. JTN is our very public voice and a place that all members can share their knowledge and experience as the leaders of trauma nursing. In addition, we will continue to increase our participation in the legislative arena and ensure that we are at the table whenever trauma system and trauma nursing issues are discussed.

 

Over the next 2 years, I hope we will be able to grow and develop the STN and trauma nursing leaders together. Helping in this effort is a talented, creative, hardworking group of nurses that you have voted in as your Board of Directors or have been appointed by the Board. These include myself as President and the following officers and appointed committee chairs:

 

President Elect: Amy Koestner, RN, MSN

 

Treasurer: Robynn Gough Smith, RN, BSN

 

Secretary: Mike Glenn, RN

 

Past President: Judy Mikhail, RN, MSN, MBA

 

Director at Large, Education: Dot Kelley, RN, MSN

 

Director at Large, Special Interest Groups: Susan Cox, RN, MS

 

Director at Large, International: Birgitte Soehus, RN

 

Director at Large, Business Development: Deb Harkins, RN, MBA

 

Director at Large, Leadership Development: Jacqueline McQuay, RN, MS

 

Director at Large, Legislation and Public Policy: Will Chapleau, RN

 

Director at Large, Outreach: Judy Muir, RN

 

ATCN Committee Chair: Rich Henn, RN, BSN, M.Ed

 

TOPIC Committee Chair: Connie Mattice, RN, MSN

 

Annual Conference Chair: Steve Myles, RN

 

JTN Chair: Kathleen Martin, RN, MSN

 

Membership Committee Chair: TBD

 

 

Many of the changes that I have spoken about will take some time to fully implement but we will continue to progress. However, to be successful, we need your help. This is your organization so we want you to help us guide it and represent your needs. If you have not been active in the organization, seek out ways to do more. This can mean joining a Special Interest Group or committee, volunteering to be on a task force, or submitting an article for publication. As a Board, we will continue to seek out ways to help you find these opportunities and to succeed in these endeavors.

 

I look forward to working with you over the next 2 years.