Nursing conference teaches leadership skills to emerging SFA nursing students

NACOGDOCHES, Texas — The Stephen F. Austin State University DeWitt School of Nursing held its inaugural Nursing Leadership Conference Feb. 3 to inspire emerging leaders in the field through dynamic speakers, career placement vendors and an SFA alumni panel discussion.

The conference hosted fourth-semester nursing students, as well as nursing students from Panola College in Carthage.

“It’s an exciting time in the nursing profession, but there are also unique challenges,” said Shelley Hunt, coordinator of SFA’s registered nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. “The Nursing Leadership Conference gave nursing students the opportunity to learn from amazing leaders in our region. I enjoyed interacting with the participants, and I’m excited for future conferences to involve even more students from additional programs.”

Speakers at the conference included Paul Smith, a 40-year veteran of the financial services industry; Bryant Krenek, retired CEO of the Memorial Health System of East Texas; Bonnie Dubin, director of recruiting, development and engagement for the Willis-Knighton Health System; and Teresa Halcomb, chief nurse executive for Christus Good Shepherd Health System.

Speakers delivered presentations on such topics as unity, leadership, effective communication and nurse roles.

The alumni panel featured four SFA graduates, all of whom attained their Bachelor of Science in Nursing and are registered nurses. They included Jordan Bass Jones, home health nurse at Pineywoods Home Health Care; Matthew Malloy, director of operations at Nacogdoches Memorial Professional Group; Dari Pierce, former labor and delivery nurse, surgical and anesthesia recovery nurse, and current clinical coordinator at SFA; and Kristen Shields, emergency room nurse at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Henderson and Christus Good Shepherd Medical Center of Longview.

“The event was a huge success given the students’ overwhelmingly positive feedback,” said Christopher Ryan, SFA associate professor and co-coordinator of the event. “I am truly delighted to be able to offer different perspectives on leadership from experienced leaders within our region. We hope to expand and develop new experiences during future conferences that will further impart wisdom to future nursing leaders.”

Students in attendance at the conference gained new perspectives on leadership.

“The speakers gave true insight on what it meant to be a leader in the profession that we are pursuing and did it in an interactive way,” said Tiffany Wells, SFA senior nursing student. “Besides the amazing speakers, it was incredibly helpful to go around and talk to the different employers during our break and hear what they had to offer.”

Participants also had the opportunity to get some advice on leadership positions in the nursing field.

“I have always had an interest in leadership, and I really loved getting to talk to several people who’ve been in those positions before,” said Ainslie Sylvest, SFA senior nursing student. “It was very beneficial to be able to learn what it takes to make a great leader as well as hearing advice for how to get to those roles.”

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