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Graduate Nursing Symposium a success online

slides from graduate nursing online symposium

On Thursday, May 7, the Queen’s University School of Nursing hosted its fourth Graduate Student Research Day. The annual conference, launched in 2017, brings together students from the PhD, Master of Nursing Science, and the Master of Nursing / Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner programs to showcase their research and connect with peers and faculty over shared interests.

With the introduction of physical distancing measures in March, the planning committee faced a choice between canceling the event or finding a way to do it online. Thanks to the lessons learned from our online Health Quality programs and the transition of the PhD in Nursing to blended delivery in 2018, we felt confident that we could make it work.

The result was a resounding success and, in some ways, an improvement on the in-person format. Moving online allowed us to expand our audience and to engage in a collective conversation, attracting between 50 and 75 attendees at any given time. To avoid Zoom fatigue, we shortened the schedule of live presentations and included generous breaks so attendees could get up and move around and spend time with family. We also set up an OnQ site featuring posters and video presentations so that all of our attendees could participate, whether based in Alberta, Nunavut, or the Maritimes. Throughout the day students, faculty, and staff live-tweeted about the amazing #gradnursingresearch happening @QueensuSON.

Attendees eased into the morning with a guided meditation, followed by a keynote address from Dr. Erna Snelgrove-Clarke, the new Director of the School of Nursing and Vice-Dean (Health Sciences). When she started at Queen’s on July 1, 2019, the last thing she expected was to be settling into the role in the midst of a global health crisis. Her refreshingly honest reflections on the challenges of balancing the demands of research with clinical practice and family life resonated with students in the audience, and were particularly fitting as we all re-evaluate our priorities through the lens of COVID-19.

There were 15 synchronous presenters in total, with another 15 asynchronous presenters via the materials posted to OnQ, where conversations continued in the discussion threads. Research topics ranged from stress among health care workers and trainees, to treating patients who use cannabis, tobacco, or opioids, to caring for vulnerable populations and those with complex conditions. The event ended with two discussion groups, one on applying for research grants and the other on how to negotiate contracts as a new Nurse Practitioner.

Long before declaring a pandemic, the WHO designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, and the current situation has proven beyond a doubt how essential they are to the health and well-being of our communities. May 11-17 is National Nursing Week in Canada, and this year’s theme is Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Nursing the World to Health. We have always been proud of our students, but even more so in these uncertain times, as they have demonstrated the dedication, thoughtfulness, and compassion that characterize true leadership.

- School of Nursing faculty and staff