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Universal appeal: Retired astronaut Capt. Mark E. Kelly to kick off Global Nursing Conference

Monday May 6, 2013
Retired NASA astronaut Capt. Mark E. Kelly speaks July 1, 2011, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Retired NASA astronaut Capt. Mark E. Kelly speaks July 1, 2011, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
(Photo courtesy of NASA/Bill Ingalls)
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The Global Nursing Conference returns stateside this year and has generated a buzz of excitement. National hero, astronaut Capt. Mark E. Kelly, will kick off the Houston event with a keynote speech on leading, setting goals, working hard and decision-making, drawing from his years of experience in the U.S. Navy, as an astronaut at NASA and as the husband of former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who suffered a gunshot wound to the head at a constituent event Jan. 8, 2011.

Nursesí care of his wife made an impact on Kelly. "Gabby spent six months in the hospital under the care of some of the best nurses I have ever met, really special people," Kelly, who has traveled to space on four different missions and has logged more than 20 million miles, said. "It is an honor for me to have the opportunity to speak to such a group."

Kelly called the nurse-patient relationship much different than the physician-patient relationship. "I learned a lot about how important nurses are in the recovery of a critically ill patient," Kelly said. "It isnít just the care they deliver but also the emotional connection that they have with their patients that help in the patientís recovery."

Giffords received treatment for her injuries at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston. Memorial Hermann is co-sponsoring the conference, along with Houston Baptist University and the University of Chester in the United Kingdom, which hosted last yearís event. The fourth annual conference will take place May 17-18 at HBU.


Photo courtesy of NSAS/JSC Commander Mark Kelly makes an entry in the International Space Station shipís log in the Kibo laboratory.
Victoria King, RN, MSN, MHA, CNOR, NEA-BC, CNO of Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and a visiting professor at the University of Chester, said the conferences and nursesí response to them have been amazing. She said the impetus for the conferences was to share information, best practices and what nurses had in common.

The conference, themed "Advancing the Practice of Nursing: A Global Perspective," aims to motivate, to explore how collaboration influences global patient care, to showcase best practices across the world and to strengthen the professional nurseís knowledge to manage them and improve patient outcomes.

"With healthcare, things are more global now," Carol Lavender, RN, MSN, MBA, interim dean of the School of Nursing and Allied Health at HBU, said. "When we are looking at evidence-based practice and how to treat and care for people, itís important for us to look at practice internationally, so we donít always reinvent the wheel. Our international partners have had to deal with not having a lot of money for healthcare, and they have a lot of good ideas about how to implement practice standards."

Nurses on both sides of the Atlantic have benefited from past conferences and the side trips to local hospitals and clinics, Lavender said, adding, "It was interesting to look at the likenesses and the differences."

Conference breakout sessions are on topics of interest to nurses and nursing students worldwide, such as collaboration in oncology nursing, social media, leadership development, prescription drug abuse, job hunting, lateral violence and mental health. Leaders from different countries will share their perspectives.

"Thereís never a time we donít bring something back [from the conferences]," Tanya Cook, system executive in human resources at Memorial Hermann, said. "There are always things for us to learn from them and for them to learn from us."

Organizersí international work will continue long after the conference. HBU will continue its focus on global nursing, and King and her UK colleagues are developing an international strategic plan for nursing. "The UK is going in a different direction in some ways than we are, with looking at privatization and coming back a little from socialized medicine as we move closer to the other end of the spectrum," King said. "Itís an interesting exchange of ideas."


Debra Anscombe Wood, RN, is a freelance writer. Post a comment below or email editorSouth@nurse.com.