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Student nurses organization to host conference at UNG

University of North Georgia student nurses will get an up close view of an air ambulance helicopter from Air Methods in action and experience other hands-on activities during the Council of Student Leaders conference from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 2, at University of North Georgia's (UNG) Convocation Center on the Dahlonega Campus.

Student nurses will get an up close view of an air ambulance helicopter from Air Methods in action next month at the University of North Georgia (UNG).

The demonstration is one of several activities and seminars planned for the Council of Student Leaders conference, which is sponsored by the Georgia Association of Nursing Students (GANS). The conference will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 2, at UNG's Convocation Center on the Dahlonega Campus.

Shannon Williams, a senior majoring in nursing at UNG and chairman of the Council of School Presidents (COSP) for GANS, petitioned to change some aspects of the annual conference. First, he asked to make the conference a daylong event instead of a weekend retreat. Second, Williams suggested a school with a nursing program host the event.

Several schools such as Emory University, Georgia Gwinnett College and Mercer University volunteered to host the annual conference. Williams, however, had a different idea.

"I suggested that we hold it at a school without such a heavy presence on the state nursing board so we can attract other schools," he said. "We can gather some new schools like Berry College, Lanier Tech and Athens Tech. They haven't had a presence on the state nursing board before, but this conference is attracting them and others."

Williams put forth UNG as a possibility, which was accepted and approved. This honor is a first for UNG's nursing group and program.

"This is the first time UNG has hosted the conference," said Dorothy "Sue" McGill, a senior lecturer of nursing at UNG and registered nurse for 43 years. "We see this as an opportunity to showcase our campus and our nursing program.

Student nurses will hear from various speakers who are leaders in the field during the Council of Student Leaders conference Saturday, June 2, at University of North Georgia's Convocation Center on the Dahlonega Campus.

Williams expects the speakers and hands-on elements to draw other nursing students to the conference. Speakers include Dr. Jacqueline Herd, the chief nursing officer at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta; A.J. Topliss with Air Methods, an air medical division that provides emergency services to 48 states; Edward Adams with the Georgia Nursing Association; and Glenn Henry, the dean of Life Science and Public Safety at Athens Technical College.

Williams, who spent almost 20 years as a firefighter and paramedic before pursuing his degree as a nurse, pointed out all of the speakers are leaders in the field.

"The nursing students are there to learn about leadership, how to become a leader, how to be a better leader, and how to make a good leadership team," he said. "I'm hoping that by providing a strong foundation, they can build upon being good leaders and pass on these skills to those coming behind them."

McGill said teaching nurses to be leaders while they are still students is invaluable for their future career.

"To take care of patients holistically, nurses have to collaborate with other departments such as respiratory therapy, physical therapy, radiology, surgery, and others," she said. "They need to know how to communicate with a community of other professionals to take care of the patients. That's why it's important for them to learn effective leadership skills. They are the maestro or conductor of the orchestra."

Along with the speakers, students will have the opportunity to see an Air Methods helicopter in action.

"There will be a 30-minute show-and-tell about the helicopter and equipment," Williams said.

He also has scheduled military veterans who have suffered from battlefield injuries to share their stories with the young nurses.

"They would not have survived without nurses caring for them," Williams said.  "So when the nurses have rough or heart-rending moments in their careers that make them question if they want to continue, they can look back at these stories and pull inspiration from these veterans."

McGill, who is the faculty advisor for UNG's GANS, said she is also excited to showcase UNG's nursing program to other nursing students. And the timing could not be better.

UNG is expanding its nursing program to include a new Doctor of Nursing Practice. The University System of Georgia's Board of Regents approved the new degree at its May 15 meeting.

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