The Eau Claire Student Nurses Association (ECSNA) embarked on a trip to the Wisconsin Dells on February 5th, 2016 in order to attend the annual Wisconsin Student Nurses Association (WSNA) Convention. Every year this non-profit organization brings together thousands of student nurses from all over the state to network, learn about a relevant health topic, and bond with each other. This year’s topic was “Mental Health: You are the Voice.”
Twenty-two members from the College of Nursing and Health Sciences Eau Claire and Marshfield sites attended this convention, located at the Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells. Various seminars, presentations, and events that explore the depths of this issue were available throughout the weekend. Sarah Anundson, a junior in the nursing program and Community Services Coordinator for ECSNA, stated, “The WSNA Conference really opened up our eyes to the growing issue of mental health. We learned about the mental health stigma and how it is our job as nurses to conquer that to help people with any illness.”
The convention is not just all work and no play; exciting activities and fun workshops create new connections between students from different areas and strengthen bonds between students from the same area. Grant Sklenar, a sophomore in the nursing program and one of the Breakthrough to Nursing Coordinators for ECSNA, reflected that, “It was one of the best weekends of the year. We were able to connect with a number of other schools and experience many different presentations on how to provide better patient care. Additionally, I felt that as a group, we became a lot closer due to the togetherness that we had. We were also were able to meet and greet other students and staff and discuss all things nursing."
The mission of the Wisconsin Student Nurses Association is to mentor the professional development of future registered nurses and facilitate their entrance into the profession by providing educational resources, leadership opportunities, and career guidance. Graduating senior and ECSNA president, Emma Janke, remarked, "This was my third year attending the WSNA convention and this year was the biggest group ECSNA has brought. It was great having both Eau Claire and Marshfield ECSNA members in attendance, since there is little opportunity to see each other in person. At the convention we heard from key note speakers, attended breakout sessions, and a few of us represented ECSNA at the House of Delegates meeting, where legislation and business related to WSNA took place. All of the events revolved around mental health and how nurses can have an impact on the large number of Americans suffering from mental illness, so it was a great year to have such a large group of UWEC students there.”