bout one thousand nurses gathered in St. Louis from Tuesday, July 31 to Sunday, August 5 for the 46th annual Institute and Conference of the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA). The conference took place at downtown’s Union Station. Its sessions, workshops and other professional development activities were built around the conference theme “The Art and Science of Nursing.”
“We are looking at: How can we use science and the evidence of research to be creative and individualize our nursing care regarding individuals, families and communities?” said Eric J. Williams, DNP, who is the first male president of the NBNA. Williams said the other major program is on violence reduction.
“As we look at educating nurses to educate communities, it’s good that we are here in St. Louis to educate them on violence as a public health crisis and how can we treat violence as a disease and on how can we treat violence as a disease, looking at mental health, substance abuse, poverty, lack of education,” Williams said. “We have enough data on violence as a public health crisis.”
He said developing interventions is the next step.
“We need to move in a direction to develop interventions that are upward in nature to have strategic impacts to strengthen the African-American family to help us reduce violence,” Williams said, “and then, work with law enforcement to help them become culturally competent and then move beyond cultural competence to a state of proficiency.”
The NBNA, headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, represents 150,000 African-American registered nurses, licensed vocational/practical nurses, nursing students and retired nurses from the U.S., Eastern Caribbean and Africa, with 92 chapters in 35 states.
“Our overall goal is to provide a forum for nurses to make a collective impact in the elimination of disparities among minority populations, especially African Americans and to improve consumer healthcare with precision medicine, and to educate them on their own health and promoting a culture of health in African-American communities,” Williams said.
“We have a lot of programs, whether it be diabetes, HIV, research, mentorship, global health – we’ve done work in Haiti and in Africa, so we’re about making things happen.”
Williams said special conference sessions included a youth institute to encourage them to enter the nursing profession, education on clinical trials, a culture of health symposium, and an under-40 forum to create the next cadre of nurse leaders.
“Those nurses who are under 40 can become deans, nurse practitioners, anesthesia nurses, educators and have more autonomy to make a collective impact with others,” he said. “Barnes-Jewish [Goldfarb] School of Nursing, Saint Louis U. and the St. Louis Chapter have been phenomenal in facilitating involvement of those locally.”
The Black Nurses Association of Greater St. Louis hosted the national conference. It is a membership-supported organization with an emphasis on professional development of black nurses and a strong focus on community service.
“The Black Nurses Association of Greater St. Louis is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to provide mentorship, advocacy, scholarship, and networking to those residing in the Greater St. Louis metropolitan area,” stated Quita Stephens, president of the St. Louis BNA chapter. “We work diligently to make a difference in the community by empowering people to live healthier lives.”
For more information on the local chapter, and its community outreach and promotion of health improvement for minorities through education, access and influencing legislation, visit http://www.bna-stlouis.org.