SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin had the opportunity to send three nurses to the SEIU Nurse Alliance Biennial Conference that was held in October of this year. The conference had the three goals of Nurse Alliance in mind: 1) drive a workplace quality agenda, 2) strengthen and grow the nurse union, and 3) strengthen the role of nurses in broader political struggles and social justice movements. The conference gathers hundreds of nurses from all over the country in the same place. All want the same positive things for their patients and their profession. The energy of the gathering was palpable.
Many leaders and go-getters in their institutions were there to spread the knowledge they gained from working with management to make improvements in their hospitals. Workshops included methods for engaging peers and management to lead change; using nurse-led quality projects to make improvements, and involving university research teams in on site research projects to improve staffing. Many of these nurse-led, management-collaborative projects led to positive impacts on patient outcomes, labor-management relationships, and bargaining.
Guest speakers included SEIU heavyweights such as International President Mary Kay Henry, our very own SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin President Dian Palmer, and SEIU Healthcare Chair Dr. L. Toni Lewis. The Nurse Alliance conference also had big name speakers: Theresa Brown, an RN and contributing author to The New York Times; and Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, newly appointed Deputy Surgeon General of the US Public Health Service.
To top off the conference, SEIU, in conjunction with The Cosgrove Group, started an online collaboration with nurses nationwide in an effort to improve the nursing profession. Ideas from the online collaboration will be developed into a set of findings and recommendations that are presented to policy makers in Washington DC.
The entire conference served as a growth medium for positive change in the hospitals of all those in attendance. It would be wonderful if all nurses had an opportunity to experience at least one of the Nurse Alliance Biennial conferences.