SIGN Vol 19, Issue 2 March/April 2012

President's Message
A New Year – What Will Your Fingerprint Be?


Spring has arrived.  For those of us in the northern latitudes, it comes not a moment too soon!  It seems a good time of year to share a few thoughts with you about partnerships and renewal.  NGNA has an overarching purpose to improve nursing care for older adults.  How does our organization strive to do this, and equally important, how do you strive to do this?
One key strategy NGNA has to achieve our purpose is partnership.  Our partnership with the Coalition of Geriatric Nursing Organizations (CGNO), which includes the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing, The American Assisted Living Nurses Association, The American Academy of Nursing’s Expert Panel on Aging,  the National Association of Directors of Nursing in Long  Term Care, Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association and American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordination, is a good example.   As part of the CGNO, the voices of more than 28,000 nurses are leveraged to promote a health care environment for older adults that reflects accessibility, evidence-based practice and high quality, person centered care.  

Who do you partner with to improve nursing care for older adults?  Notice I asked about your partnerships to improve nursing care for older adults.   I recently did an inventory of all the groups I was involved with, listing their mission, the time commitment and the organization’s impact on improving nursing care for older adults.  It was an eye opener for me.  While all were very worthwhile and focused on older adults in some way, only a few directly linked to my purpose to serve gerontological nurses and improve nursing care for older adults.  Guess what I did?  I stepped away from some of these groups.  It was difficult to do but freeing at the same time.  I was able to recommit to partnerships that provide strong networking and peer support as well as resources to renew my purpose and inform my practice.

I encourage you to re-evaluate your partnerships this Spring.  It is my wish that NGNA is a strong partner for you as you achieve your goals, supporting you with education, peer networking and resources.  
I wish you peace, health and best wishes for a wonderful Spring!     

 Let’s Make NGNA Chapters Blossom and Grow

Submitted by: NGNA Chapter Resource Committee

Spring has sprung and just like the beautiful flowers of the daffodil, crocus and grape hyacinth bulbs here in South Central PA, several new NGNA chapters are in the process of forming.

We would like to welcome the Greater Chester County (PA) Chapter, the Jersey Coast (NJ) Chapter, and the in-the-process-of-forming Pittsburgh, PA and Saint Louis, MO Chapters. We will continue to encourage your growth and development while we celebrate the continued success of chapters in such diverse locations as Texas, Maryland, San Diego, and other areas!

At the same time, we also mourn the chapters that have been discontinued due to lack of engagement. For a brief period of time, I could proudly say that my home state of Pennsylvania was the only state to have three chapters, but alas, current events and difficulties cut that short, only to have an eager group of geriatric nurses in Pittsburgh potentially resurrect my dream.

Going forward, we must be sure to measure NGNA chapter health, not just by the number of new chapters formed, but by the participation levels within existing chapters. Let’s shoot for an active chapter wherever one is found. Let’s continue to fertilize and water our chapters so that we no longer have to form new chapters only to replace those that have withered and gone away. In this way, we plant the seeds of NGNA’s future membership and leadership.

The process of forming a chapter, while appearing formidable with application forms, IRS tax forms, elections, bylaws, constitutions, etc. is merely the beginning. The real challenge is to maintain the energy and develop a core group of volunteers, workers, and members.

In that spirit, we will be having another Chapter Resource Committee conference call soon to continue to develop ways to assist the chapters in forming and maintaining a strong group of dedicated, compassionate, skilled gerontologic care providers. Each active chapter is encouraged to have a member on the CRC.

We appreciate the efforts of all of the people who provide skilled, loving care of our organization’s often most vulnerable and valuable members, our elders. We hope you see us as a valuable resource as you carry out the mission of providing high quality, compassionate care.

Have a healthy, safe Spring.

 Developing Successful Leaders in Transforming the Care of Older Adults through the 2012-2013 Geriatric Nursing Leadership Academy (GNLA)

Submitted by: Brenda Cleary, PhD, RN, FAAN, Ageing Initiatives Administrator, Sigma Theta Tau International

Are you ready for a meaningful challenge that changes how you look at yourself and your job? Do you have unrealized leadership potential that could excel with quality mentoring? Are you poised to take your professional development to the next level and be empowered to make more significant contributions to the field of geriatrics? Or, do you know someone who fits the description above and perhaps you are in a position to serve as a mentor for that person?

The Geriatric Nursing Leadership Academy (GNLA), a premier leadership development opportunity offered through the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI’s), is for nurses dedicated to transforming care for older adults and their families across settings and to improving overall geriatric health outcomes and influencing various levels of health policy.  It is an 18-month intensive, mentored leadership program that has already changed the lives of Fellows, their Mentors and the 20,000 patients they care for across 20 states.  

Who’s qualified to apply to this prestigious fellowship? A Fellow must have a baccalaureate or higher degree in nursing as well as leadership potential, knowledge and competence in geriatric nursing, a commitment to profoundly impact the quality of care and health outcomes for older adults and the support of his or her employing organization. A Mentor must have extensive leadership experience, a proven track record of successful mentoring relationships and the time necessary to invest in a Fellow’s journey.  Fellows and Mentors attend two intensive three-day leadership workshops, and with guidance from the Mentor and GNLA faculty consultant, the Fellow implements an individualized leadership development plan and project.  GNLA projects are highlighted at STTI’s biennial conventions.  

The GNLA was created through a partnership between The John A. Hartford Foundation and its Centers for Excellence in Geriatric Nursing and Sigma Theta Tau. The 2012-2013 GNLA is made possible with a Retirement Research Foundation grant and additional support from The John A. Hartford Foundation and Hill-Rom.

NGNA’s current President was a fellow in the GNLA Cohort I and she served as a mentor In Cohort II.   According to President Amy Cotton, “I found the GNLA experience transformative for my nursing leadership development.  The didactic and mentored experience was relevant, intensive and rewarding.  I learned new skills in the areas of strategic engagement, leading inter-professional groups, developing health policy advocacy strategies and identifying solutions for challenging health care delivery issues.  My leadership sphere of influence has grown both regionally and nationally.  I highly recommend this experience for nurses interested in increasing organizational influence and advancing their skills to improve health care delivery for older adults.”  
Applications accepted through April 2, 2012:

I would sure be thrilled to find a large number of applications from NGNA colleagues in our application system!  

NGNA Launches New Online Career Center

  On February 10, 2012, the National Gerontological Nursing Association (NGNA) launched its interactive job board, the NGNA Career Center. With its focus on healthcare industry companies and professionals, the NGNA Career Center offers its members—and the industry at large—an easy-to-use and highly targeted resource for online employment connections.  
Both members and non-members can use the NGNA Career Center to reach qualified candidates.  Employers can post jobs online, search for qualified candidates based on specific job criteria, and create an online resume agent to email qualified candidates daily.  They also benefit from online reporting that provides job activity statistics.  

For job seekers, the NGNA Career Center is a free service that provides access to employers and jobs in gerontological nursing.  In addition to posting their resumes, job seekers can browse and view available jobs based on their criteria and save those jobs for later review if they choose. Job seekers can also create a search agent to provide email notifications of jobs that match their criteria.

As a registered employer or job seeker, you also have access to the National Healthcare Career Network (NHCN), a network of over 265 top healthcare associations and professional organizations.  NGNA’s alliance with NHCN increases your reach to a larger database of industry-specific resumes and job postings – giving you more control over your career advancement and a one-stop-shop to find targeted and quality candidates.

Check out the Career Center at

Southern Maine Chapter Welcomes National Gerontological Nursing Association President

Submitted by: Patti League, RN, Southern Maine  NGNA Chapter President

The Southern Maine Chapter of NGNA warmly welcomed President Amy Cotton to their quarterly chapter meeting November 9, 2011 at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine.  President Cotton briefed the members on NGNA’s strategic initiatives, provided updates on NGNA Committee and Special Interest Group activities and welcomed member suggestions for improved national support to local chapters.  A special thanks to Southern Maine Chapter Officers Patti League, Linda Samia and Elaine McMahon for the warm welcome and opportunity to network with Maine chapter members.  

 University of Utah Students Advocate for Alzheimer’s Day at the Utah State Capitol

Submitted by: Nancy McLeskey, MCG, MDiv, RN-BC, FNGNA
Pictured: N.McLeskey, J.Bernhardt, S.Kim, B.Keeler, M.Smith, B.Jensen, and T.Knowlton.

On January 25, 2012 Nanci McLeskey, NGNA’s Vice President and six of her nursing students from the University of Utah, College of Nursing gathered at the Utah State Capital for Alzheimer’s Advocacy Day.  They were there to support a bill before the legislators:  Utah’s State Plan for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and Related Dementias for 2012-2017. This bill would support AD research, raise public awareness of dementia, train competent workers, support and empower caregivers, and provide health and dignity for all with the disease and those at risk statewide.  

It was a great morning, learning ‘how to advocate’ by attending a workshop, meeting several representatives to promote the bill and then participating in a rally in support of Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias.  The students found it to be a very enlightening event (see comments below), learning how the legislative ‘process’ works and having a presence for AD (something that they believe in). The students are presently spending two days a week for seven weeks in an Adult Day Care, Assisted Living and Hospice agency, where they have been developing rich relationships with individuals with various dementias.  

Here are some of the student’s comments:

 “Participating as an advocate for the Alzheimer’s day at the Capitol was rather an unexpected event. I never expected to be advocating for anyone or group while in school, but I see it as one of those valuable experiences a person needs in order to progress in the future. After the first experience, I think it is easier and more likely to participate in future gatherings for us all.”  

“In the future, if there comes a time when I advocate for someone or some community, I’m going to put all my energy into it until it is done or deemed impossible to accomplish. It made me realize that I need to become much more active about any policy issue that is important to me.”
“I have to admit, I was surprised how amazing it felt to be at the Capital.  I haven’t ever been an advocate to this level of involvement before and I was impressed at how good it felt to be more involved.  I was able to meet with my representative and talk a little about Alzheimer’s Disease and what can and should be done.  I think this was a fantastic and unique experience that should be included for all nursing students in the BSN program.  If you look at the goals of study being taught it only makes sense that we take steps into this area of the efforts on health care; just look at the Nurse Code of Ethics and all that we stand for as a body of professionals.  I’m very grateful I had this experience.”

“It was wonderful! I enjoyed being able to stand up and be counted for those who may not have the capacity to do so themselves. I also enjoyed meeting some of those in charge of the rally. It was exciting to see their efforts rewarded.   I made a difference because now I know a little more about lobbying. I made a difference in that my view of advocacy has been expanded. I made a difference because I can connect-the-dots between academic theory and real world experience. Thank you for being open to the idea of getting us involved in this event. It was a tremendous experience that added meaningful value to my education.”

 Mark Your Calendars for NGNA’s 2012 Convention--Gerontological Nursing Care: A Safe Harbor

Submitted by: Jane Herin MSHS, BSN, RN BC, PHN, CDE, CHES, FNGNA co-chair of NGNA Planning Committee

Our next NGNA convention is in Baltimore, Maryland Oct. 4-6, 2012.  The Planning Committee reviewed the evaluations from Louisville and took your suggestions to heart.  We have a great team working on selecting your speakers. We will have Barbara Resnick, PhD RN from the University of Maryland School of Nursing  as our opening speaker on Thursday evening, after opening remarks by our president Amy Cotton, MSN, RN.   

The Friday general speakers will be: Nicole Brandt, PharmD,   Associate Professor Geriatric Pharmacology, Pharmacy Practice & Science who will be speaking about medications, andLaura Gitlin PhD, Director of the Center for Innovative Care in Aging and Professor at John Hopkins University. Brenda Roup, PhD RN,  a nurse consultant in infection prevention and  control, will be a general speaker at an early morning session on Saturday regarding infection control.  Robin Remsburg, PhD RN, past president of NGNA and Associate Dean, College of Health & Human Services of George Mason University, will be speaking Saturday morning. Lois Marshall, PhD RN,  educator, consultant and author of Take Charge of your Nursing Career- Open the Door to Your Dreams,  will be our closing speaker late Saturday afternoon. We are also working on obtaining a legislator to speak on health care reform concerns, issues and updates.  

Look forward to seeing you in Baltimore!

 NGNA Call for Nominations Closes April 1st

Leadership in NGNA is an outstanding opportunity to participate in advancing NGNA’s core purpose of improving the quality of nursing care given to older adults and helps to sharpen your career leadership skills.  Nominations for the 2012-2014 Board of Directors and Nominating Committee are now open.  Nominations are being accepted for the following offices:
  • Previous experience in an organizational leadership position
  • Expresses a vision for NGNA in this leadership position
  • Engaged in NGNA activities (committee, chair, Fellow) for at least 3 years
  • Able to participate in monthly conference calls and in person meetings as scheduled.
  • Committed to this 4 year Board position
  • Documented previous budget experience competency in reviewing spreadsheets and/or numbers
  • Able to work with staff and board regarding fiduciary oversight
  • Detail-oriented
  • Able to participate in monthly conference calls and in person meetings as scheduled.
  • Active NGNA member for at least 2 years
 Director at Large (2 positions)
  • Active member of NGNA for at least 2 years
  • Leadership experience in a professional organization
  • Expresses understanding of the purpose of NGNA and intent to support that purpose
  • Able to participate in monthly conference calls and in person meetings as scheduled.
 Nominating Committee (1 position)
  • Active member of NGNA for at least 2 years
  • Able to participate in conference calls during nominations process.  
  • Established network of NGNA members (through attending convention, committee work, etc.)
 The National Office must receive nominations no later than April 1, 2012, in order to be considered by the Nominating Committee.  All current members of NGNA are eligible to be nominated.  Self-nominations are encouraged.  Nomination does not guarantee that a person’s name will appear on the final slate.  

For more information and to nominate yourself or someone else, visit