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Student Nurses at Penn was recognized at this year’s National Student Nurses’ Association Convention in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo courtesy of Yeng Shao).

Student Nurses at Penn won the Stellar School Chapter Award for the first time at this year’s National Student Nurses’ Association Convention in Nashville, Tenn.

The week-long convention is an opportunity for nursing students to connect with students from around the country and learn more about the field from peers and experts. 

Nursing senior John Palmer is the former club president, one of the members of the Penn legislative committee, and has served as the president of the state board of nursing students who have attended these conventions. Palmer said that the convention includes networking and legislative components, workshops, exhibitors from hospitals and graduate schools, and practice for licensure exams.

Penn Nursing sends delegates to the convention each year, and the delegates vote on the business of incorporated nonprofits to discuss what nursing students want to see funded and prioritized. In addition, each school has the opportunity to present legislation that is presented and voted on by a forum of students. These topics can be resolutions that create association-wide stances or advocating for a specific health policy. 

Under the guidance of faculty advisor Diane Spatz, a world-renowned expert on breastfeeding and lactation,  the Penn chapter focused on increasing awareness of the need for accessibility to quality lactating spaces. 

“We put our heads together and think of a topic we should raise awareness about among other nursing students,” Palmer said. “To do this, we go through literature to decide on recent articles that support what we are trying to get out of the resolution.”

Penn’s resolution this year passed without any opposition.

“I'm just really proud of our chapter, we always do really well in terms of students who apply scholarships through the state and the national organizations,” Palmer added. “And we always do really well with those also with individual awards.”

Vicky Vo, a Nursing and Wharton first year who served as the legislative coordinator for this year’s competition, explained the conference’s procedure.

“Every year, the legislative coordinator applies to a set list of awards that the NSNA offers and I applied for a bunch of different ones for SNAP … there were a lot of different awards that Penn won,” Vo said. “I feel like I’ve learned so much about nursing by being on board and writing resolutions, and going to the conference.”

Palmer also emphasized the benefits of attending the convention.

“Going to these conventions and being involved in a club at such a high level is a big time commitment,” Palmer said. “But it's entirely worth it for the people you meet and the things you can learn.”

Aside from attending state and national conventions, SNAP tries to find ways to engage all nursing students. As the largest nursing club on campus, SNAP offers programming such as peer advising, student panels, community service, and attending conventions. 

“COVID has changed a lot of things with people wanting to be more virtual and not as committed to things, but I really hope that SNAP maintains a really excited core and just continues doing the great things it's doing and influencing students the way that it has for me,” Palmer said.