1. Oakes, Christy MSN, RN, ONC
  2. NAON President, 2012-2013

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We have all heard the saying "time flies when you're having fun." My last year as NAON's President is a perfect example of that phrase. I am certainly not minimizing the important nature of leading our association nonetheless, as I reflect upon my tenure, I am compelled to ask several questions. Has the responsibility been challenging? Have I found it interesting? Did serving as NAON's president provide me with a learning experience? And finally, have I found value in this opportunity? My answer to all is a resounding "yes"! So, where is the fun? For me, it has been in the possibilities, the personal and professional growth, and the relationships developed. Being President of NAON really has not been about me, consequently a final question I considered was: did I make a contribution? It certainly was my goal and I hope that happened; however, the answer is a true test of time.

Christy Oakes, MSN, ... - Click to enlarge in new windowChristy Oakes, MSN, RN, ONC NAON President, 2012-2013

One notion that has been solidified for me since May 2012 is that life is about choices. Our parents instilled the idea to us and in turn we give our own children the same advice. As nurses, we make choices personally and professionally. I think most people look for congruence in their personal and professional life choices, because for many people our measure of success is determined by what we choose for ourselves. In the last year the harmony between my personal and professional life became skewed when I was asked to make a choice involving my vocation and my leadership opportunity within NAON. The decision was not as difficult as I anticipated. Rather than stay in a situation that controlled me, I chose to control my situation. I took a leap of faith deciding to rethink and redefine my professional career. I realized where I was working was defining me and hindering my ability to attain the professional goals and outcomes I desired. I also trusted a positive influence in my life, which was NAON.


I did not anticipate personifying our 2013 Congress theme "Strong Values, Strength in Practice" while I served as President. However, I did expand my values, strengthen my practice, and found some authenticity in my leadership. As I looked for new employment, my responsibility to NAON became an important aspect of who I was and the skills I brought to the table. I made sure a prospective employer knew the education I was receiving as NAON's president was valuable to me and them. I was able to explain how serving as our President was advancing my ability to achieve consensus, understand both operational and strategic views, and develop key relationships. I knew when organizations were not encouraging nurses to seek certification and had difficulty discussing quality initiatives or outcomes it wasn't a place I desired for my employment. Rather than seeing the value in NAON several organizations began our conversations by asking about the time required for my involvement. After each of those discussions, my values and practice became stronger.


My job search was successful and I recently secured a new position that is immensely different from any work I have done in the past. To my surprise, I found a shelf in my office filled with several books on nursing, leadership, and research. The first four I picked up were quick reads yet incredibly interesting. Two books that had an immediate impact were Take Charge of Your Nursing Career: Open the Door to Your Dreams by Lois S. Marshal (2010) and Why Retire? Career Strategies for Third Age Nurses by Fay L. Bower and William A. Sadler. Admittedly, because of my age, I picked up the Bower and Sadler (2009) book with a bit of trepidation. However, in each text I found not only wonderful information for me at this juncture in my professional career but validation that my recent choice was the right one. The importance of reflection is discussed in both books. The authors also explore the need for nurses to frequently examine one's position and place in an organization to determine if you are fulfilled and if the organization is fulfilling you. In essence, periodically ask yourself: Is there value in the work being done and is the outcome valued? I was impressed by the positive reinforcement presented in each book along with the numerous options available to nurses of all ages. The creativity in our professional choices is exciting and limited only by our own lack of awareness or confidence.


Another confirmation came in reading about the advantages of networking and membership in professional nursing associations. Each author elaborates on the positive role professional associations make in our careers starting with the contacts, education, and opportunities accessible. In the last year I found the support one receives in our professional association truly phenomenal. There is solidarity within NAON that one can depend upon for assistance, counsel, and encouragement. I found that backing at the local and national levels. Once again I am grateful to NAON and our membership for putting me in a position to benefit from the possibilities our association provided.


Thinking about what I gave back to NAON is difficult because it exists in both the present and future. I hope my contribution left our organization stronger for the membership who keeps it sustained. With collaboration between the Chapter Advisory Team and Executive Board, we implemented methods to assist and strengthen our chapters. We maintained our partnerships with other professional groups and considered new ones to add value for our members. In my time as your president I wanted to ensure that NAON and orthopaedic nursing remains the leader in musculoskeletal patient care. By accomplishing that goal, NAON will be ideally positioned for the future needs and growth in our nursing specialty.


Serving as NAON's 33rd President has definitely been an honor and an experience I will always cherish. Getting to know all of our 6000 members has not possible so I attempted to reveal myself to you through these messages. I recently found a quote by Albert Schweitzer stating, "Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing you will be successful."


I thank you, NAON members, for allowing me to love what I have been doing in the last year and reaching a measure of success.




Bower F. L., Sadler W. A. (2009). Why retire? Career strategies for third age nurses. Indianapolis, IN: Sigma Theta Tau International. [Context Link]


Marshall L. S. (2010). Take charge of your nursing career: Open the door to your dreams. Indianapolis, IN: Sigma Theta Tau International.