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Today’s Dreams for Tomorrow’s Nurses

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Earlier this month, the nurses of tomorrow brought their energy and enthusiasm for the profession to Phoenix for the 63rd Annual National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA) convention. With a membership of 60,000, NSNA is the largest organization for students enrolled in associate, baccalaureate, diploma, and generic graduate nursing programs in the U.S. The convention brings together thousands of student nurses, faculty, and nursing leaders from across the country who look to foster their educational and professional development, and in the case of this year’s convention theme, seek out “bright horizons and rise to new opportunities.”

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Since the Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future began in 2002, we’ve been fully committed to support of tomorrow’s nurses, our nursing students. The Campaign contributes more than $500k annually to U.S. nursing scholarships and grant programs. And through “The Promise of Nursing” galas, the Campaign joins with local healthcare organizations, hospitals and schools to raise funds to support local nursing programs and students in their communities. Since these first began, we’ve hosted over 30 galas and these events have raised more than $19M. These galas are a wonderful way for us to work directly with a region’s healthcare community and leverage together the goals of the Campaign, strengthen healthcare and support students.

This year’s convention, (which marks the thirteenth I’ve attended!) left me again fully inspired about the future of nursing. If you have never been in the midst of nursing students, they really are quite remarkable. I met soon-to-graduate Michael from Baylor University in Texas and young working mom Brandy from the University of North Florida; and students who fundraised for weeks and took multiple flights to get to the meeting from school chapters in places like Hawaii, New Jersey, Nebraska, Maine and Georgia to name a few. They were determined to be there!

As part of our on-going support of nursing students and their career development needs, the Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future was thrilled to bring the “iDream: Create Your Future” Room to this year’s convention. Students were invited to engage in a variety of activities designed to resonate with them personally as they undertake future careers in the nursing profession.

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Always a favorite offering in our room, students had the opportunity to have professional headshots taken for their online career/networking activities such as LinkedIn. And, as they waited for their photos they took a moment to read, reflect and write a message about their own hopes and dreams for their future career in nursing for our iDream Tree.

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It was inspirational to read the authentic dreams of today’s nursing students, our nurses of tomorrow! There were hundreds of iDream messages which ranged from the specific to the broad: “To make children’s lives better”; “to put as many smiles on as many faces as I possibly can”; “to work with babies and work in the NICU“; to save lives and work hard” and “to change the world.”

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Building on the affinity and enjoyment of many to take and share photos via social media, our “iDream Selfie Station” complete with red carpet, branded “step and repeat” backdrop, Campaign scrub tops and chalkboards for personalized messages, was a huge hit! Integration with our Donate a Photo app and current cause around nursing student scholarships with the Foundation of the National Student Nurses’ Association proved to be very motivating to the audience as well, with more than 730 new users to the Donate a Photo app in one day, a recorded all-time high!

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The hundreds of students who visited our iDream Room also had the opportunity to stroll through an exhibit of inspirational stories from seasoned nurses as part of our “Next Shift” story series as well as watch videos featuring nurses and students in our video viewing area.

There was time to soak up new ideas as well with an online nurse specialty quiz and through special short career learning sessions around such topics as “Thriving in Your Future Nursing Career” and “Creating a Winning First Impression, a personal branding workshop. The students also had the opportunity to consult one-on-one with a professional stylist for questions about business dress for interviews, practice tie-tying, and get energized by a live “Dress for Success Style Showcase” fashion show complete with lights, music and professional models wearing career-appropriate interview attire. All of these sessions offered practical, real-world career-related advice and were well-received. We even got some new ideas from the students themselves on how to improve for next year!

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And, that’s just it – we’re constantly learning from these best and brightest of students. They are right on the cusp of their nursing careers – dedicated beyond belief, hungry for education, information, insights and exude contagious passion for the profession. Their dreams as student nurses today will soon be realized as nurses of tomorrow and we will all be better off for it.

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