Reflections on African-American Nursing History Conference

Students from Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College attended the 8th Annual African-American Nursing History Conference on February 25, 2015. Hosted by the College of Nursing at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, the conference focused on health disparities, promoting community wellness and identifying evidence-based research that affects changes in vulnerable populations throughout the community.

Goldfarb was a proud sponsor of the conference, and was excited to have so many students attend. Below are just a few reflections on, and photos from, the conference that our students shared.

AANH Conference - 2015“I am grateful I was granted the opportunity to attend the African-American Nursing History Conference. The speakers were outstanding!!!  Their background, knowledge, and experiences were a breath of fresh air. I left the conference feeling encouraged and motivated – wanting to provide education, care, and support to my community.”  – Andrea S.

AANH Conference - 2015“What an eye opening experience! The African-American Nursing History Conference increased my awareness about a host of health disparities among the African-American community. As a nurse, I feel it is extremely important to keep abreast of what issues are present within the community, and how I can contribute to correcting the problem. The speaker, Dr. Melvin Blanchard, gave a wonderful presentation. He began by explaining some of the causes for issues prevalent in the African-American community, such as heart failure, cancer, diabetes, etc.   In his words, “the root of the issue” is the onset of many harmful behaviors. He followed by what those habits lead to and finally ending with the final result. He called this “Roots, Trunk and Fruits.” I learned that by incorporating small, healthy steps into everyday life one can reverse the negative effects on their health and have a huge impact on future wellness.  It was such a wonderful experience; I hope that I can have the opportunity to go in the upcoming years.” – Ashley T.

AANH Conference - 2015“After attending the AAHN Conference, I was proud that I chose a career field that I can contribute to society in a positive way. It was such an honor to be in the presence of nurses who have many experiences in the field. The keynote speakers brought to light the issues that we as nurses have to be active advocates for in our communities and for our patients.” – Timira M.

AANH Conference - 2015“The conference was truly a pleasure to attend, packed with informative guest speakers and opportunity to network with others in the field of nursing and public health. The keynote speaker of the morning, Dr. Melvin Blanchard, was AWESOME, enlightening and kept everyone engaged in the topic, “Ask Not What Our Healthcare System Can Do For Us; Ask What We Can Do For Our Health.” His presentation was a reality check on where healthcare is headed in this country and how it affects us as a WHOLE! The breakout sessions which I attended were just as enlightening, and the groups of speakers towards the end of the day were just as impactful! It was an action packed day full of engaging speakers with tons of beneficial information that even brought us to laughter at times…which we learned was healthy & helps us burn additional calories! I’ll encourage my cohorts to attend next year’s conference in hopes of developing our cultural competence as we enter the practice of nursing, because we all serve the same patients and the conference addresses the concerns within OUR community!  – Melanie G.

Student Focus: A Nurse First, an Airman Second

Second Lieutenant Jeremy Nelson (right) at his commissioning ceremony with Captain Alan Millais (left).

“I’m a people person,” explains recent Goldfarb School of Nursing grad Jeremy Nelson. “So I planned on going to school to be a teacher. I never thought I would become a nurse and certainly didn’t think I would join the Air Force.” And although many people wouldn’t put the words “nursing” and “Air Force” in the same sentence, Nelson does, because he felt God’s hand leading him to both.

Because both his parents were in the nursing field, Nelson knows about the passion and dedication this career requires. He learned more about the profession as friends became nurses, and his interest in nursing grew as they encouraged him to consider the career for himself. Finally, after time spent working in retail, Nelson decided he wanted to start helping people facing real problems, not retail problems. As a nurse, he knew he could use his people skills to significantly impact lives every day. So at the age of 29, with a wife and baby at home, Nelson enrolled at Goldfarb and took his first nursing class.

In that class, Nelson learned about a number of career options, including military nursing. Nelson says, “I thought to myself…well, that’s not going to happen. I have a wife, a baby, and I’m too old.” Still, the option of joining the military intrigued him. He looked through some brochures and talked to other Goldfarb students – some older than Nelson, one with three kids – who had chosen the military. During the same time frame, Nelson’s father-in-law suddenly passed away and was honored with a military funeral. With increased curiosity, Nelson reached out to his cousin-in-law, Alan Millais, a captain in the U.S. Air Force. “Alan really ignited my desire to join the military,” says Nelson “So many things were leading me that direction; I felt called to join.”

During his last term at Goldfarb, Nelson applied to the U.S. Air Force nursing program. Out of 250 applicants, only 50 were accepted. Nelson recalls how it felt when he received the acceptance phone call. “I said, ‘This is Jeremy Nelson,’ and the recruiter said, ‘You mean Lieutenant Jeremy Nelson.’ I was ecstatic!”

On October 27, at Goldfarb Hall during his commissioning ceremony, Nelson became a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. This winter Nelson will report to commissioned officer training to start his six-year commitment. “I will be a nurse first and an airman second,” says Nelson.

Nelson looks forward to his time in the Air Force. He knows there will be numerous opportunities for him to learn and grow in the field of nursing and in personal character. He intends to seek an advanced nursing degree and ultimately hopes to earn a Doctorate of Nursing Practice. “It would be such an honor to teach others about serving people through nursing, but I never want to entirely leave the clinical setting.”