For two days, the North Carolina Nurses Association (NCNA) helped bring a bit of normalcy to nurses with networking, continuing education, and professional development as part of its 114th Annual Convention in Concord. NCNA honored nurses and put a special focus on the theme of resiliency and burnout as the profession rounds out its second full year on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Thursday, Sept. 23, 16 nurses, facilities, and nurse-advocates received awards. This year’s awards ceremony included recognitions from both 2020 and 2021, due to the pandemic.
NCNA member Vinette Gordon, of Pinehurst, received the 2021 Administration Nurse of the Year Award. During one of the most challenging years imaginable, Gordon made it her priority that Fayetteville State University students thrive and stay healthy. She supported a distance learning program that not only kept students on track with their academic requirements but also ensured they had three hot meals per day and developed isolation care packages. She was relentless with testing, contact tracing and providing support for those in quarantine. Ultimately, the students managed a 100% rate for required vaccinations and health insurance participation and she was able to help the school organize a successful in-person commencement ceremony.
On Friday, Sept. 24, the association installed Meka Douthit EL, DNP, RN, NE-BC, as its 55th president and welcomed its next slate of leaders by electing a new board of directors.
“I want you to know: at NCNA we see you, we hear you, and we are thankful for you,” said Douthit EL. She went on to add, “In a world where diversity matters — it is one of our values at NCNA — I am blessed and honored and proud to stand before you as the third African American president, following in the footsteps of Sandra Wilder and Dr. Ernest Grant.”
After a year and a half of virtual meetings, NCNA was excited to host an in-person event with strict safety protocols that ensured a safe environment for attendees, speakers, exhibitors, and staff. Attendees were able to earn up to 24.25 hours of continuing nursing education, including on-demand options. Before the event, NCNA surveys indicated that roughly 90 percent of its membership was vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We are incredibly proud of the way everyone approached this event, from both the organizing and attendee perspective. People respected the protocols and overwhelmingly understood the importance of maintaining a safe environment,” NCNA CEO Tina Gordon said. “Our nurses told us they needed this. Many of them saw Convention as an outlet for practicing self-care during what has been an awfully challenging couple of years. We are grateful many could take advantage of this opportunity, even as we missed seeing some of our friends and colleagues whose workloads or workplace travel restrictions prevented them from attending.”
NCNA and its members are heading into 2022 with a better-informed plan for tackling burnout in the midst of a pandemic and the association is optimistic about achieving some of its legislative priorities that will improve health care delivery across the state.
Feature photo: Vinette Gordon (left) receives the 2021 Administration Nurse of the Year Award from the North Carolina Nurses Association.