BALTIMORE – A group of seven Notre Dame of Maryland University nursing students recently had the opportunity to network with leaders and colleagues from across the country at the National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA) MidYear Conference in Virginia Beach.
The trip, which was sponsored by NDMU’s School of Nursing, included an extensive NCLEX-RN Mini Review course, professional workshops, and career panels with experts from a variety of specialty areas. NDMU’s contingent included Mary Clare Callahan ’24, Michaela Cousins ’23, Ashley Engles ’23, Yvonne Godwin ’23, Rachel Maj ’23, Manroop Sandhu ’23 and Sydney Smith ’23.
All seven are members of the Student Association of Nurses at Notre Dame (SANND). Six are enrolled in NDMU’s entry-level Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, while Maj is set to graduate in December from the Accelerated 2nd Degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program. They were accompanied by Dr. Rodnita Davis, assistant professor/director for the entry-level nursing programs and the SANND faculty advisor, and Monica Bradik, academic success and advising coordinator for the School of Nursing.
“It’s important to be able to give students these opportunities whenever they’re available, because it really helps with their professional identity formation,” Dr. Davis said. “Going to school to become a nurse is one thing, but really stepping into that role and understanding the expectations, not just while they’re in school but as they transition into practice, is extremely important to set the student up for a sustainable, successful career in nursing.”
Multiple students highlighted the NCLEX review session as one of the most beneficial experiences from the conference, particularly as a new version of the exam known as the Next Generation NCLEX is set to debut in 2023.
“The opportunity to learn about the new NCLEX was one of the main reasons I wanted to attend,” Cousins said. “It was interesting to hear people who are on the board talk first-hand about what it would consist of, how it’s different from the previous NCLEX, and how we can come up with a plan to be successful when we take the exam.”
The conference also gave students the opportunity to interact with vendors, allowing them to explore a variety of graduate-level programs and learn more about the wide-range of specialty positions available in the nursing field.
“I was excited to learn about interdisciplinary nursing roles and other nursing positions that we don’t often hear about,” Engles said. “There was a lot of discussion on nursing as a whole, which really interested me. It was a great experience overall, we definitely learned a lot.”
The School of Nursing had previously sponsored one-day educational trips to New York City, where the main NSNA offices are located. Dr. Davis hopes that there will be additional opportunities for students to attend lengthier conferences in the future.
“This was a great experience for our students,” she said. “The multi-day nature of the conference gave them the opportunity to determine individually which breakout or concurrent sessions they wanted to attend. That ability to forge their own path will be beneficial as they start to explore transitioning into a practice setting.”
Established in 1895, Notre Dame of Maryland University (NDMU) is a private, Catholic institution in Baltimore, Maryland, with the mission to educate leaders to transform the world. Notre Dame has been named one of the best "Regional Universities North" by U.S. News & World Report.