Mentorship Drives CON Participation in Denver TAANA Conference

From Touch Point Online Magazine, Vol. II, Issue 3 – 9/10/18
Jason Fisher, Kim Cleveland, Sarah Kearney, and Thomas Watral stand next to their collaborative poster presentations at the 2018 TAANA Conference.
Jason Fisher, Kim Cleveland, Sarah Kearney, and Thomas Watral stand next to their
collaborative poster presentations at the 2018 TAANA Conference.

The American Association of Nurse Attorneys (TAANA) held their annual conference in Denver, Colorado August 16 – 19, 2018. Professor Kimberly Cleveland, JD, MSN, RN, C-MBC, attended the conference with three Kent State Students: Jason Fischer, MSN (Health Management Concentration), Thomas Watral (UGN) and Sarah Kearney, M. Ed. (Exercise Physiology Ph.D. student and teaching assistant). The three students worked individually and collaboratively through the 2017 – 2018 academic year to research areas of interest regarding health policy and health law. The students received 3 of 5 available scholarships for conference fees offered by the American Association of Nurse Attorneys Foundation Board.

Jason, Tom and Sarah worked with Professor Cleveland through the academic year to formulate their policy questions and engage in policy research. Their collaboration formed a team approach to exploring policy research that culminated in conference poster presentations. Jason, Tom, and Sarah worked individually and collaboratively to present a poster entitled, “Undergraduate Health Care Policy Education: The Power To Teach, Mentor and Inspire.” Jason and Tom also presented their research regarding safe staffing in a poster entitled, “Nurse Staffing: To Regulate or Not To Regulate. Is that a Serious Question?” Sarah presented her poster entitled “To Regulate or License: The Essential Questions Regarding Essential Oils.” The poster presentations shared one year of health policy and administrative law research with health law attorneys, advanced practice nurses and nurse attorneys who focus their practice on various areas of health law. The posters collectively displayed the value of interdisciplinary collaboration in policy revision and regulation.  

The students all received high scores on their oral poster presentations. Conference attendees found their topics to be relevant, well developed and of high impact in the current health care environment. The students found the experience of discussing their policy research with nurse attorneys provided a unique opportunity to impact the profession. Jason stated, “This was an amazing opportunity to network with both novice and experienced attorneys who talked about their journey of growing from advocacy beyond the bedside of nursing, and learn about how they now contribute to the profession, communities, and country.” Tom stated, “From the first day I heard Professor Cleveland talk about policy and the role of a nurse-attorney in my Introduction to Nursing Course, I knew I had a special interest that extended to the bedside and beyond. Having the opportunity to discuss my interest in policy education for nurses and safe staffing with nurse attorneys from across the country was inspiring. I will remember this opportunity throughout my career.”

Students identified that the role of nurses leading policy discussions has been of high impact for them throughout the 2017-2018 academic year. All three students engaged in interdisciplinary, nurse led policy forums. Sarah stated, “The opportunity to present at TAANA brought the whole year full-circle. The ability to combine my knowledge of physiology with the policy and regulation standards taught within nursing was an invaluable experience. Collaborating with Dr. Cleveland, Tom, and Jason was collectively beneficial for all of us as we were all able to bring a unique perspective to the table.”

All three students were grateful for the support of Kent State University (KSU), KSU College of Nursing, TAANA, the TAANA Foundation and the support of their mentor. Jason summarized the experience by stating, “I now have much more experience with poster presentations and research, and I feel comfortable advocating for patients, nurses, healthcare organizations, and higher education with members of congress, senators, and elected officials at the local and state levels. Further, I saw my professor as a role model within the profession, particularly when it came to her positivity and work ethic. I observed her balance working hard as a board member and policy maker at the TAANA conference to ensure its success with her role as an educator and colleague.”

In addition to the students’ achievements during the conference, Professor Cleveland was honored with an award from TAANA for her outstanding and exemplary student mentorship.

POSTED: Monday, September 10, 2018 - 9:05am
UPDATED: Thursday, March 26, 2020 - 11:51am
Kimberly Cleveland, Jason Fisher, Thomas Watral and Sarah Kearney