The Magic of ‘What Matters to You’

Monday’s SuperSession started NTI 2017 with a bit of magic, as AACN President Clareen Wiencek reflected on the magical phrase “What Matters to You,” and keynote speaker Vinh Giang demonstrated how magical thinking results from simply altering our perspective.

Wiencek began her talk reflecting on a year of “It Matters” — a theme she said has roots in Dr. Martin Luther King’s pronouncement not to be silent about things that matter.

“When we use our voice to advocate for our patients and families, it matters,” Wiencek said. “And when we speak at the national level in a united voice that drives changes in healthcare and elevates our goal as nurses, believe me, it matters.

“When I met with nurses this year I asked, ‘What matters to you?’” Wiencek said the most common responses were two simple words: love and family.

But she also heard many nurses say that the experience of being a nurse — the human centeredness, the values unique to our profession, enjoying the people they work with often referred to as “family” — also filled their lives with joy.

“I also know there are difficult and persistent challenges that might sometimes seem insurmountable,” she added. “But I have seen evidence that when we use our voices collectively, problems can be solved. Because we know the load is lighter when everyone carries their share.”

As Wiencek traveled the country and gained perspective from nurses who talked about the times their voices mattered, she noted how much their stories resonated with AACN’s theme.

“Above all,” she said, “I just want to let each of you know just how much you, the vital work you do and the profession you define matter.”

Giang, a magician and entrepreneur, then introduced the audience to new ways to open their minds. He brought several nurses on stage and used magic tricks to show them and the audience the value of perspective. He demonstrated this in a filmed card trick he showed twice on the large video screens — from a wider angle, the audience could see how the trick was done and just how much everything else had changed in the set around it.

A moving moment during Monday’s SuperSession was the presentation of the Visionary Leadership Awards, the highest honor AACN bestows.

“These awards recognize far-reaching accomplishments that have propelled AACN’s mission forward,” said AACN Chief Executive Officer Dana Woods.

Pamela Austin Thompson received the Marguerite Rodgers Kinney Award for a Distinguished Career, while Judith Nelson, Kathleen Puntillo, Kathy Douglas and Carolyn Jones were each recognized with the AACN Pioneering Spirit Award

“I’m so grateful to all of you for inspiring me,” Jones, a filmmaker, said to the audience. “I think the work you do requires such enormous generosity that I’m committed to showing the excellence of nursing that I’ve witnessed over the last six years. I’m not finished.”