Registration is open for the upcoming NAPNAP National Conference in Atlanta! I sincerely hope you will plan on attending! Recently, I invited our University of Maryland students to attend the conference; it is not too far for them to travel, and it would be a wonderful experience for them. I offered to help them navigate the registration process and promised to connect them with our Maryland Chesapeake Chapter members once they arrived in the Big Peach.
As we were discussing this opportunity with our students, Ann Felauer, my faculty colleague and the current co-chair of the Acute Care (AC) SIG, told us that there had been no applicants for the AC student award, which offers an acute care student a $500 stipend to assist with his/her travel expenses or conference registration. With only two weeks to spare, we encouraged our students to apply for this honor as they considered attending the conference.
The NAPNAP conference offers many benefits for students, from enhancing their education about the pediatric-focused APRN role and clinical topics to introducing them to potential employers in the Exhibit Hall and the Student Reception. Students also enjoy seeing their faculty engaged in professional activities or just having fun outside of the school environment! So, why didn’t they apply for the AC award? Perhaps they are learning the role of the nurse practitioner in the formal setting, but are not being “mentored” in the true sense of the word.
The definition of mentoring is a relationship between two individuals based on a mutual desire for development toward a professional goal or career path. It is an experience and opportunity for both parties to mature in their roles and is not a required position in most work environments. Students can be mentored by faculty members, preceptors or another pediatric-focused APRN. So what are we doing wrong? Why weren’t there any candidates for the AC student award?
In the academic setting, mentoring a student may include fostering networks for student support, guiding students in writing and research efforts, treating students with respect, being aware of their personal needs and assisting their transition into the work environment, which may include writing a letter of recommendation.
In the professional realm, mentorship has many of the same objectives, and mentoring students helps assure the future of NAPNAP. Engaging students in membership, preparing them for their new responsibilities and guiding them toward volunteer positions after they graduate, combine to foster in them a long-term commitment to our association and the pediatric-focused APRN profession.
So, if you have not mentored your students to become involved in our national organization, it is not too late! Choose one or more students and begin the process. Look for awards or benefits at the student level and encourage them to apply. Consider writing an article with a student or writing a letter of support for them as a candidate for the Acute Care SIG award. Share your room with a student at the conference and make sure to acknowledge them as vital NAPNAP members.
Remember that the mentorship process is reciprocal, and both parties will benefit from the relationship. I realize now that had I been a better mentor to our students, there would have been applicants for the acute care award! I look forward to greeting the students in Atlanta and welcoming them to NAPNAP!