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P37 - Expanding Connections to Recharge Nurses’ Batteries: Growing Your Local Networking Group

Background: Networking is a critical component of professional development for nursing that promotes career growth, advances evidence best practice, builds relationships, and provides opportunities for nurses to collaborate with colleagues outside of their department or organization. Our American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN) state-wide local networking group (LNG) has worked to create networking opportunities for nurses, grow membership, and establish a leadership and succession planning. With only 12 LNGs listed by AAACN, more are needed in order to meet this growing need for ambulatory care nurses.

Purpose/learning objectives: Our poster will allow the learner to a) understand how an AAACN LNG can enhance ambulatory care nurses’ ability to network professionally; b) analyze the relationship of leadership expansion, comprehensive bylaws development, and succession planning to long-term LNG success; c) analyze the tools and methods used to expand the LNG over time; and d) apply tools and methods to the create a successful LNG.

Description: Established in 2013 by a small group of ambulatory care nurses, our state-wide LNG was galvanized with bylaws outlining the organization’s purpose and mission. After a period of waning activity with only the LNG chair leading the organization, revitalization occurred by LNG leadership leaning on evidence in the literature to define and establish a board of directors filled by volunteer LNG members. The newly developed board of directors worked to determine the needs of ambulatory care nurses within the state. Members were surveyed on their learning needs and desires of the organization to determine the direction of the LNG. The board worked to officiate LNG membership and re-establish regular meetings for members to participate in networking events. Membership events were held with plans to recruit members and increase networking opportunities. The LNG experienced an increase in membership applications during the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating an increased desire for nurses to network and participate in learning opportunities. With expansion of LNG membership, the board sought to expand the LNG bylaws using the structure and language of the AAACN bylaws as a guide. However, the AAACN is a robust organization versus our LNG in its infancy, resulting in modifications or exclusions of certain content from the AAACN bylaws to fit the needs of our LNG. The resulting bylaws included structure surrounding operations, responsibilities of leadership positions, election processes, and membership eligibility. Ultimately, the focus of the board of directors during the advancement of the LNG bylaws was to generate sustainability of the organization and create longevity beyond the members of the founding board.
Outcome and conclusion: Creation of an LNG board of directors ensures sustainability of the organization and support of future LNG leadership. The work of LNG leadership and the new board of directors has led to a community of over 300 members, with nearly 90 members added in the year 2020 alone. LNG meetings in the last year provided a venue to network and receive education, with significantly positive feedback from members. Our work can be used to guide successful establishment and growth of other LNGs to benefit ambulatory care nurses.

Learning Objective:

  • After completing this learning activity, the participant will be able to assess innovations being used by other professionals in the specialty and evaluate the potential of implementing the improvements into practice.