Opening Session Wows Audience

Opening a conference like Emergency Nursing 2018 is no small task, but planners were up to the challenge.

A dramatic video traced the yearlong journey of ENA lanterns across the United States, and around the world, before arriving in Pittsburgh. Nurses carried their lanterns to the stage and encircled the ENA President Jeff Solheim to complete the trek.

Master of Ceremonies Todd Thomas returned with boundless energy which he used to shake up the early morning crowd. He encouraged audience members stand up and dance to get their blood pumping.

The heart of the session included speakers and live debates on stage. ED Talk subjects included, “I’m a Millennial and It’s Time You Took Me Seriously,” “I Might Be Retired but Don’t Put Me Out to Pasture” and “It’s Better to Burn Out than to Fade Away.”

Two debates focused on nurse staffing ratios and specialty emergency departments, respectively. The audience partcipated using the conference app to vote on the topics before and after the speakers presented their arguments to gauge how many minds were persuaded by the conversation.

Those in the audience appreciated the live debates.

“I found it really interesting and dynamic,” said Molly Davisson of Reno, Nevada. “To pull the audience in and see what they thought in real time was a great idea.”

Her colleague Dustin Bass, also of Reno, agreed. “It was great to hear both sides of topics that we really do struggle with in emergency nursing.”

Solheim, ENA Foundation Chairperson Steven Jewell and ENA Executive Director Nancy MacRae gave a rapid-fire update on many of ENA’s exciting accomplishments this year, including the unveiling of the organization’s new logo.

Finally, keynote speaker Allison Massari, who capped off the event, offered her story of recovery from a near-fatal car accident in which she received second- and third-degree burns over 50 percent of her body. Her personal tale served to inspire and motivate the audience. Her words flowed between the story of her physical recovery and her realizations about the importance of kindness and love.

“Everything we do makes a difference. Every act of kindness counts,” she said. “And, oh, do I remember the kindness of my nurses.”

Massari told stories about the small gestures and great kindnesses her nurses offered, including a seven-second interlude where, as Massari lay in despair and unimaginable pain, a nurse looked her in the eyes and ran her fingers through her hair. She said those memories have never left her.

“You have such an awesome responsibility to help someone heal,” she said softly, adding not every patient has the chance to share their gratitude. “So, on behalf of all of those people, I say thank you.”

Many attendees were emotionally moved by Massari’s story. Others took what she said to heart.

“She was phenomenal,” said Misty Holland of Winter Haven, Florida. “It’s always good to come to a conference like this to refill your cup, and I’d say for a lot of us that’s what she did.”