Discover the ‘Fire Within’

Allison Massari is no stranger to emergency care. Although she is not a nurse herself, she has experienced firsthand the incredible work emergency nurses do daily. As a survivor of two near-fatal car crashes, one in 1998 and another in 2001, she has a unique story to tell today during her keynote address at the opening session. Her address, titled “The Fire Within,” describes the internal resilience required to overcome unimaginable adversity.

Opening Session

7:30 – 9:30 a.m.
Hall C

“This is my story of being a burn survivor, the man who saved my life and the countless health care professionals who had a profound impact on me through the care I was given,” Massari said. “It includes many personal and professional takeaways to support people in their lives. Ultimately, it is a message on the incredible healing power of kindness and compassion in the sacred space of health care.”

The Healer by Allison Massari

As the daughter of a nurse and an oncology surgeon, Massari was already familiar with the rigors of life in the health care field. But during her recovery from second- and third-degree burns, she gained a deeper appreciation for patient-centered care and the nurses who helped her along the way. 

Allison Massari

“I have a very special place in my heart for emergency nurses,” she said. “I vividly remember the care and compassion I was given. To show them my appreciation for their commitment to patients is incredibly meaningful for me. My hope is they will walk away renewed with a sense of the incredible role they play in the lives of so many people.

“Emergency nurses have an incredible commitment to their jobs,” she continued, noting the excellence of their technical abilities and how they care for people in what is often physically and emotionally exhausting work. They have such significant demands on their time and are always having to move on to the next patient. She said because of this, it is important for emergency nurses to hear appreciation from patients willing to offer it.

“Equally important is to share with them how someone like myself, who was so close to death, ultimately overcame it all and came out the other side to a life that is beautiful,” she said. “Without people like them, I would not be here.”

One of the ways Massari helped herself to heal was through art. Her artwork serves as the backdrop to her presentation. 

“Each image that goes up on the screen matches the feeling of each story I am telling,” she said. “At the end of my talk, I will be giving away a signed print of my artwork, called ‘The Healer,’ to a member of the audience. It is one of my favorite pieces.”

Massari’s courageous and inspirational journey will only be part of the dynamic Opening Session. It will also highlight the culmination of the Follow the Flame initiative. Dozens of lanterns have traveled the country, visiting chapters and state councils to showcase the great things members do. The session will feature a dramatic opening with a video, and the once widely dispersed lanterns will come through the crowd to unite on stage. 

After the fanfare, presenters will deliver quick TED-style talks on important emergency nursing topics of the day, followed by short debates on stage.