2016 Men in Nursing Conference
Nursing has its share of stereotypes, especially when it comes to gender roles. When was the last time you saw a male labor and delivery nurse? Have you ever noticed the balance between male and female nurses in general?
The annual Men in Nursing Conference sponsored by the California Health Workforce Initiative, aims to break down those barriers and prepare men and women from all backgrounds for successful careers in the nursing field.
The 2016 Men in Nursing conference was held November 11 and 12 at the Wyndham Anaheim Garden Grove. About 150 people attended, ranging from high school and college students to nursing professionals.
John Bone Cordova, the event’s organizer and Health Workforce Initiative Director, said the conference is an offshoot of events that happen nationally but have little representation on the West Coast.
“We want to provide networking and mentors and expose students to leaders from across the state and the nation,” Cordova said.
Breaking down barriers
The 2016 conference theme was “Changing a Culture through Healing.” The goal was to create opportunities for discussions on gender equity and diversity in the nursing profession and how collective action facilitates a change in nursing culture.
Cordova said male nurses are sometimes typecast into more physical roles like lifting and moving patients, or think it’s not possible to work in areas like labor and delivery. The conference was a way to bring together people from all walks of life to discuss those issues and break down barriers to entry men face in the field.
Keynote speakers were Daniel Suarez and Dr. Martin Schiavenato, two leaders and innovators in the nursing field.
Daniel Suarez Martin Schiavenato
Suarez spoke about racial disparities in the nursing field and the National Association of Hispanic Nurses. Schiavenato discussed innovation in nursing. He is a lifelong inventor and has created multiple medical devices, including a “crystal ball” to assess infant pain levels and a “smart diaper” that weighs itself.
Other speakers included Dr. Joseph Morris, the Executive Officer for the California Board of Registered Nurses, and Daniel Wall, Manager of Emergency Medical Services for Ventura County Health Care Agency.
Session topics ranged from specifics like “Oxygen for Caregivers” to general topics like “How to Deal with Difficult People.” Cordova said he strives to select speakers from a variety of nursing disciplines and parts of the industry in order to provide a well-rounded experience for attendees.
Cordova said he hoped attendees came away with information that will help them challenge and change the status quo in their work or school environment.
“This year we had some really great keynote speakers and several other presenters,” Cordova said. “I pick wisely of who I’m trying to present. Every year I’m learning something new and the attendees are learning something new. There’s always something being brought to the table.”
Cordova said the conference has been well received over the five years he’s managed it, and that sentiment is echoed in feedback from attendees. Nursing students who attended the conference are eager to put what they learned to use in the working world.
John Hernandez, a nursing student at Moorpark College, said the conference opened his eyes to nursing career paths he did not know existed.
“While working at the bedside is an essential part that all nurses must do at some point, I never really gave thought to just how many other type of jobs needed to be performed in the healthcare environment to make everything run efficiently and smoothly,” Hernandez said.
While the conference is geared toward men in the nursing field, anyone is welcome to attend. Female students found value in seeing the perspective from their male colleagues.
“As a future woman in nursing, I attended the Men in Nursing conference because I feel that it is so important to learn from various perspectives, said Emma, a nursing student at Santa Barbara City College (SBCC). “The conference did not disappoint. I learned so much from the speakers and will return next year.”
Moorpark student Joseph Berberabe said the conference helped him understand the roles that men and women will play in shaping the future of nursing.
“Men and women collectively can make a change towards a better future, professional growth, and educational attainment,” Berberabe said. “I would definitely recommend this conference for everyone in all levels of nursing.”
SBCC student David Scott said he particularly enjoyed the networking opportunities.
“The networking that took place after the conference lead to great discussions with both students, faculty, and nurses,” Scott said. “It is great to have this type of benefit available to nurses and nursing students looking to explore what a career in nursing is all about.”
A new direction
Planning is already underway for the 2017 Men in Nursing conference. Cordova said he hopes to expand access for high school students create an opportunity for them to present poster projects that will be judged for a scholarship competition.
Cordova said that pre-conference training sessions are also in the works. These sessions will be longer and allow for more in-depth discussion in a specialized area such as wound care.
He also hopes to add a larger event like a reception to encourage informal networking opportunities.
A stronger nursing community and better care for patients throughout the South Central Coast will be realized when nurses can communicate more openly with each other and work on the same playing field, no matter what part of the industry they are in.
“What’s nice about that it helps bring a lot of different voices to the conversation,” Cordova said. “It’s a way to facilitate a dialogue.”
The Men in Nursing conference is co-sponsored by the Health Workforce Initiative and the Doing What Matters for Jobs and the Economy Deputy Sector Navigator Health grants. The College of the Canyons Associate Degree Nursing Program provides continuing education units.
The next Men in Nursing conference is scheduled for November 2-4, 2017 in Garden Grove. More information forthcoming.