Volunteer! ME? Yes, YOU!

Volunteer!

Have you ever considered volunteering and sharing your expertise on the national level? All it takes is one tiny step forward and there will be no looking back.

Early in my career I was selected to present a poster at the AMSN national conference in Reno, Nevada. As I attended sessions and watched Committee Chairs, members and Board of Directors interact, my interest was piqued and I thought, “Wow, they look like normal nurses, people I could connect with and have fun while networking.”

I did not consider myself a medical-surgical expert, but I certainly had a wide variety of experiences.

I began to follow announcements from the national office and when a call went out for a position on the clinical practice committee, I took a leap of faith and applied. Much to my surprise, I was selected as a committee member. I quickly had to do some backtracking and ensure that my employer supported my involvement.

I verified that the time commitment would not disrupt my work schedule and confirmed that my husband was on board with this endeavor. As with most committees and task forces today, the business was conducted virtually via emails and conference calls.

"I found it to be extremely rewarding while at the same time realizing that as a practicing medical-surgical nurse, I had more expertise than I originally thought."

The work of the clinical practice committee involved reviewing position statements and weighing in on national initiatives supported by the organization. I found it to be extremely rewarding while at the same time realizing that as a practicing medical-surgical nurse, I had more expertise than I originally thought.

The time commitment varied from month to month and I was able to blend the activities into my busy work and family schedule. The discussions with nurses across the country were fascinating. These were medical-surgical nurses who shared experiences like mine. I quickly realized that working together we could make a difference in the specialty of medical-surgical nursing.

A few months into my tenure, the chair resigned and the president at the time, Cecelia Gatson Grindel, contacted me to see if I was interested in serving as chair. I was speechless. Me? Chair? What business did I have holding this position?

Evidently, Dr. Grindel and the Board of Directors saw leadership qualities in me that I had not seen myself. Fast forward to a long timeline of involvement with AMSN as National Treasurer for two terms, President of AMSN and now evidence-based practice (EBP) advisor.

Along the way other volunteer opportunities presented themselves. I served as the content expert and chair for the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center (ANCC) Adult Health Clinical Nurse Specialist certification exam, and currently volunteer as an evidence-based practice immersion facilitator for the Helene Fuld Institute for EBP.

The experiences and the connections with nurses across the country have enriched my nursing career beyond my wildest dreams. I always looked forward to the AMSN annual conference to connect with friends I have met along my volunteer journey.

While we were not able to do that this year, these friendships remain solid. We will always be bound by the contributions we made and continue to make to the specialty of medical-surgical nursing.

What are you waiting for? All it takes is that first step. Dip your toes in the water and start the ripple. The personal and professional rewards will be endless.

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