Critical Care 2012: An Educational Extravaganza

By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

So, for the 12th or 13th time (I’ve lost count), I attended the National Teaching Institute of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (the “other” AACN organization, not to be confused with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing) in Orlando last week. And as usual it was impressive—approximately 6,000 attendees, and rows and rows of exhibitors. There were two helicopters, a bus, and an ambulance in the exhibit hall, as well as two-story booths and classrooms. While there were some recruiters looking for staff, they were overshadowed by monitoring companies, bed and equipment manufacturers, and pharmaceutical companies.

Some highlights:

Left to right: Outgoing AACN president Mary Stahl and incoming president for 2013, Kathryn Roberts.

Kudos to the AACN for its creativity in making general sessions lively and interesting. This year, the organization held open auditions for a member to assist as “MC” for the general sessions (or “super sessions”). It was a tie, and attendees were treated to two of their own in action, hamming it up and enjoying the spotlight.

The TED-talk presentation style used by both AACN president  Mary Stahl and president-elect Kathryn Roberts was refreshing—and unique for nursing meetings.

I interviewed both presidents—click the link to listen to the podcast (it may take a minute to load). The 2013 president, Kathryn Roberts, MSN, RN, CNS, CCRN, CCNS, is a clinical nurse specialist in the pediatric ICU at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; she chose “dare to” as her theme for the year.

My favorite session, hands down, was Elizabeth Bridges’ “Critical Care Studies You Should Know About,” in which she pulled apart recent research and evaluated it in the context of other studies. She is the only person I know who can have 500+ people laughing and learning statistical analysis. (After hearing her speak last year, I approached her to do a column for AJN. Her column, Critical Analysis: Critical Care, debuted earlier this year with “Central Venous Pressure Monitoring: What’s the Evidence?”free until June 12. And she’s working on two more.)

The engaging super session featuring Robyn Benincasa—a firefighter, world class adventure racer (think Survivor and The Amazing Race combined), and motivational speaker—illustrated what one could achieve with team support, leadership, and perseverance. (Of course, being in superb shape for firefighting, endurance biking, and mountain climbing doesn’t hurt either.)

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Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.

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