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.

Missouri Nurses Association Nurse Advocacy Day

Nurses not only impact health care by teaching future nurses and by caring for patients, but many are involved in shaping laws to enhance patient care and the nursing profession. A group of students witnessed firsthand how nurses are influencing laws at the 27th Annual Missouri Nurses Association Nurse Advocacy Day in Jefferson City, Missouri. Stephen Kielbasa, a BSN student at Goldfarb School of Nursing, shares his experiences from that day and what he learned while at the state capital.


Stephen Kielbasa, along with fellow student Gina Kitterer (center) and faculty member Dr. Mary Curtis, enjoyed their time at the capitol during the Missouri Nurses Association Nurse Advocacy Day.

One couldn’t help but feel the anticipation while watching and listening to the hustle and bustle of the crowd. Friends and strangers chatted away. Nurses, professional and student wandered through exhibits. Hungry conference-goers balanced bagels and coffee cups in their hands waiting for the event to begin. Why all the excitement? Well, this was just the beginning of what would turn out to be an informative and adventurous day in Jefferson City, Missouri —the 27th Annual Missouri Nurses Association (MONA) Nurse Advocacy Day.

MONA drew registered nurses and students from all parts of Missouri to the Missouri state capital to learn about the legislative process and the importance of organizing our collective lobbying power. The day included a number of speakers and a visit to the capitol building. We learned about current state legislative efforts and how to interact with our representatives. I found learning about the legislative efforts to be especially interesting.

As student nurses we often do not realize that the framework for our profession is being decided right now, before we even graduate. For example, did you know that advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) do not have the same flexibility to practice in Missouri as they do in other states? Doesn’t quite seem fair, does it? Fortunately, there are groups like MONA who are advocating on our behalf about this and other issues.

While visiting the capitol, another student and I turned our trip into a legislative scavenger hunt. We visited the senate and house chambers, took photos and even tracked down our state representative Sue Meredith from district 71. I was surprised how easy it was to talk with Representative Meredith and impressed by her willingness to talk with constituents.

As a nurse, I want what’s best for my profession and feel I have a responsibility to advocate for our patients. I’m convinced that the best way to do so is to organize nurses so that our voices can be heard within the halls of our legislature. That’s why it is important to have an organization like MONA that not only represents our voice but also provides its members an opportunity to participate.

I encourage nursing students to participate in events like this. I found it to be a great opportunity to interact with my peers and learn a little bit more about how I can help make nursing a great profession.

To learn more about Missouri Nurses Association (MONA), visit

And find out who your state representative is at