#AONE2014 – Thoughts From Day One

by | Mar 13, 2014

It’s a great week to be in Orlando for the annual conference of nurse leaders at AONE. The weather is beautiful and it seems, at least to me, that everyone is dressed down a little for spring break. I’m hearing there are about fifteen hundred attendees, and every session room I have been is packed with people standing in the back.

Today’s theme was “Innovation.” (According to the AONE president in the opening session, we have three themes, one for each day.) Given that we are in an ever-changing world, the need to innovate and stay ahead of the curve is a pressing topic on everyone’s mind. But, this being nursing, innovation and change are balanced with data. Every time I turn around, I see a reference to “evidence-based” subjects and processes. It would be short-sighted to draw the conclusion that the evidence-based emphasis tempers or deters innovation in nursing. Instead, I think it focuses the innovation and change on practical, tactical ideas instead of creating a chaotic free-for-all.

Kicking off the day with the keynote session was orchestra conductor Benjamin Zander. His infectious energy and enthusiasm swept the crowd along see the possibilities in the world around them. We had a short lesson music appreciation, got coached in belting out Shubert’s lyrics to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” in the original German, and contemplated how our roles as leaders, teachers, and mentors would be different if we gave all of our students an “A” right away to take away the distraction and pressure of achieving a grade in order to truly learn and improve. It was innovative and inspiring.

I had two breakout sessions that I was I able to attend during the course of the day. In the first one, we heard how nurse leaders need to evolve and change as the world changes around us. The call is to be transformational leaders and not traditional ones. In my second session, we explored the differences in roles between a CNO and CMO in a hospital. As I expected, there was some overlap and natural tension between the two, but it was clear from both the presenter and the questions from the group that the roles are changing as healthcare experiences forced changes from outside forces like ACA legislation, financial pressures, and improvements in technology and care techniques.

While on the surface, neither of these sessions directly addressed innovation as a key point to be communicated, but I noted that both sessions were essentially a call to nurse leaders to not just adapt to changes but embrace the idea of constant evolution of the CNO role and the role of the hospital to the community at large. Of course, this can only be done with innovation.

In the final group session of the day, Dr. Jason Hwang tackled the topic of disruptive innovation, drawing parallels from the computing industry. While I personally found the analogies didn’t resonate with me, he had a key message woven in that I hope the audience caught: “The delivery model of healthcare is changing.” It is a disruptive change and nurses need to innovate to reinvent themselves in this new distributed model in order to continue to be the trusted care givers that they are now.

There is one other thing I wanted to highlight from my day: the AONE conference mobile app. From a social media perspective, AONE has less of a Twitter footprint than a show like HIMSS, consistent with past years. But the mobile app is top-notch. Every other conference should take a note from how innovative the app developer, Double Dutch, has been with this. You don’t realize how useful or valuable a mobile app can be at a conference until you get to experience a good one, and this one is one of the best!

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