Nurse.coms Dan Suarez, RN, MA, associate director of sales for the New York region, was sworn in as the new president of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses at the associations 2014 conference in Miami in July. Suarez, a past president of the New York Chapter, shared some insight into NAHNs future goals and initiatives, as well as his vision for the organizations growth.
Nurse.com: As the new president, what are your goals for the organization?
Dan Suarez: We have outlined three leadership initiatives in our organization offering transformational leadership exercises via a leadership symposium for incoming board members. The aim of this initiative is to prepare the incoming board to execute its duties in a strategic fashion. Initiative number two is to strengthen the task of the NAHN Mentorship Academy, which connects middle-level career nurses with more experienced nurses. Third, we received a grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation to fund the Muevete (Move) USA program [focusing on childhood obesity]and Id like to increase that program across the chapters from 15 to as many as we can. I want to be able to sustain these programs in the future. Im also interested in improving NAHNs chapter president development program and developing succession planning strategies and tactics at the national and chapter levels.
N: What are your priorities for the organization:
DS: We are in the midst of looking at two additional initiatives for the development of a Diverse Faculty Track and a Diverse Student Track, both with emphasis on mentoring our next leaders in academia and in clinical settings.
N: Since your involvement in NAHN, what growth have you seen?
DS: Just in the last four years, we have had a 17% increase in membership while other nursing organizations have seen a decrease in numbers.
N: How would a Hispanic nurse benefit from being a member of NAHN?
DS: As professional nurses, we are committed to lead, promote and advocate for the educational, professional and leadership opportunities for Hispanic nurses. While the great majority of our members are of Hispanic ethnicity, NAHN welcomes members of any ethnic background. Our nurses encompass all specialties, from oncology to pediatrics and from professors to administrators. Our members serve in many different settings from clinics, hospitals, universities and government agencies. As a professional society, NAHN strives to provide education and information through both traditional communication channels, such as our peer-reviewed journal, Hispanic Health Care International; our newsletter, NAHN at a glance; webinars; and our annual conference; as well as through its social media channels. NAHN partners with foundations, educational institutions and other nonprofits to assist with scholarships and educational discounts at the BSN, MSN and DNP levels.
N: Are there any special programs that NAHN offers members?
DS: NAHN also is an association where members find support and peer-to-peer help. Our local chapters are great sources for members to find out what is happening in their area, from jobs to healthcare challenges. NAHN also offers mentoring with our Mentorship Academy.
N: What kinds of events and volunteer efforts does the organization participate in regularly?
DS: NAHN members actively participate in chapter events, including being members of and heading committees and leading health-related volunteering activities in their chapters. We also encourage submission of articles, both research and clinical oriented for our peer reviewed journal. NAHN provides members with leadership opportunities at the local and national level as project leaders, committee and commissions members, and on chapter and national boards.
N: Are there any events and volunteer efforts you will pursue as president?
DS: We have started to partner with service groups such as Stop Hunger Now and conduct homeless shelter projects during the national conference to help the local community where we hold our conference. I call it leaving our footprint behind. We have also developed a corporate advisory council to hear what NAHN can do better from our sponsors.
N: Although you were recently named president, is there a succession plan in place once your term has ended?
DS: Yes, we have a process in place aimed at seeking out leaders within the organization who stand out among the chapter presidents, many of whom have taken the lead within and been recognized by their communities as leaders. We encourage members to begin the mentoring process in preparation for national office. We have done this successfully for the past two elections.
N: What in your background will assist you as a successful leader of a national organization?
DS: I believe what sets me apart is my ability to garner support among the different groups within the organization. Ive been recognized by the membership for my consensus building within the organization.
N: What should nurses know about NAHN?
DS: NAHN is committed to improve the health of all Americans, especially those in the Hispanic community. NAHN works to identify healthcare needs as well as barriers to access and quality care and recommends appropriate solutions through policy papers and collaboration with other like-minded organizations.
Tracey Boyd is a regional reporter.