With every tap on the shoulder there is opportunity. I would like to thank Liz Lemiska for tapping me and asking me to share a few words about my personal experience as a member of the New England Region WOCN. This gives me opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and gives me some experience speaking in front a large audience. Again, I would like to say, with every tap on the shoulder, there is opportunity.
I am from CT and I have been a CWOCN for 15 years. As all of us, I could talk about many wonderful memories of conferences, being a member of the education committee and work related WOC stories. However, time is of the essence, so I will try to keep this focused and short. When I think back to the past 15 years, what I remember the most is the connections that I have made. These connections come in many forms-other WOCN members, WOC mentors, WOC students, work related WOC peers, product specialists-ie-vendors, and most importantly patients. All of these connections have provided me all types of opportunities.
One of my earliest memories of me caring for a pt with a challenging ostomy was one that I cared for during my 5th year of nursing. This was years before I became a WOC however as I think back to that particular patient, I utilized the ET nurse, as they were called then, and really wanted to make a difference for that pt. Even prior to this pt, I had an interest working with ostomy pts. I liked the challenge and the satisfaction obtained from being able to problem solve the many issues they might have related to their ostomy. Ostomy care and ostomy patients became my love. Wounds are a close second though.
Around my 10th year of being a nurse, I had the opportunity to attend WOC school….the hospital where I work needed an Ostomy Nurse and no one in the outpatient Wound Care Center was interested so they offered it to the members of the education department. A door opened to a wonderful opportunity. I took it! Likely, the best career decisions I have ever made!
I began my schooling for WOC, I was able to go to WICKS in Pennsylvania for 2 weeks for the Ostomy portion of the program and then completed a study book version for the Wound and Continence section. I had to send my paperwork through the mail and my tests had to be proctored and then sent to Pennsylvania through the mail to be corrected. That was the early version of the online programs. How they have changed! I completed my clinical with Anne Navage and Lynne Kisner. I had a wonderful clinical experience, I was excited to become a WOC Nurse. My mentors became my friends. They introduced me to the CTET group, as it was called then, which has evolved to CT WOC group. My mentors tapped me early in my career of being a CWOCN to become a member of the New England Region Education Committee. If you haven’t been on a committee, please take the opportunity during this conference and ask about the various committees available and look to serve on one even if only for a couple years. It will be well worth the experience! You get to have some influence on the role you love so much! You meet other WOCNs from all over New England, and if you are someone like me, you might need this “tap” to get you out of your comfort zone. You meet speakers, network with others and are forever learning new things. I am probably not the only one that will mention this but it also gives you Professional Growth Points for your recertification. I have never really liked taking tests so PGP work well for me…..does anyone know if I will be able to use this experience for some PGP? Seriously though, there are many ways to gain your professional growth points. You can gain big points for being a preceptor. Caring for my patients is my proudest everyday WOC accomplishment, however, being a preceptor is also one of my proudest WOC accomplishments. I know most of the time, choosing a preceptor is based on location however, when I have a student, I find a great sense of satisfaction helping to initiate a nurse into his or her new nursing endeavor as a WOC Nurse. Being a WOC Nurse has provided me the opportunity and confidence to be a successful mentor and preceptor!
Conferences are fun. Learning is fun! Everyone will take something away with them from this conference, beit your first or your 40th. I will share a small, maybe not favorite memory, but one that I always look back and laugh at. Jen Gengo and I shared a room about 10 years ago at a Fall conference. We were both new moms and our biggest excitement about the conference was being able to get a good nite sleep. I had put off an overdue surgery, my left shoulder would dislocate very easily. Well, I rolled over sometime at about 4-5am and my shoulder just dislocated, it popped right out, Jen jumped into nursing mode and had to slightly move my arm to get it to go back in. Not a WOC memory but a conference memory. I was so grateful, Jen, my WOC friend was with me.
I feel it an honor to be a member of this nursing specialty and very proud to be a member of the New England Region WOCN. Always look for opportunities, and when a door opens, walk through! Thank you.
Submitted by Lisa M Orowson, MS, RN, CWOCN