1. Lonadier, Robert MSN, RN, ONC
  2. NAON President 2015-2016

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While getting dressed to go out on a rare date with Sonja, my wife of 22 years, I was looking in the closet for something to wear. Should I go with jeans or dress pants? Which shirt should I wear? These are some of the questions that go through one's mind as you prepare and get ready for any type of event. Dinner was great; we talked about our life and all of the changes and challenges we have gone through together, going to school, moving, kids, buying houses, and a business. Change, they say, is the only thing that is constant in life, which can be hard for me, as I have been known to have a problem with change. This could be noted by my choice of shirt, it was the same one I wore on our first date 22 years ago. The shirt still looked great, so why change?

Robert Lonadier, MSN... - Click to enlarge in new window NAON President 2015-2016

How do you feel about change? We can become comfortable with the status quo, not only in our life, but work, for example, in the way we deliver care to our patients. We can even become comfortable with the status quo in our professional associations. The reasons can be varied, but a question one should ask is, is our comfort based on tradition or is this practice or tradition still relevant today? Comfort based on traditions, even if ineffective, can be difficult to change.


Change agents look for and identify not only opportunities for change, but also find the best approach and then make it happen. So what is a change agent? A change agent can be defined as one who advocates or is actively involved in the design and/or implementation of change (Hood, 2010). That change may be in policy, process, or even the environment of the workplace or organization.


Looking back, change occurred for me with returning to school and beginning the journey to earn a Master's Degree in Nursing (MSN). I remember having a discussion with a fellow nurse at work who had started the MSN program ahead of me and making the statement that "school would not change me." Why would it? At the time I have been a nurse for many years, was certified in my area of practice, and was considered an expert by my hospital system and fellow employees. Though resistant, I noticed, as the classes progressed, a change in how I saw the entire process of nursing and eventually made changes in my practice.


I remember sitting at a hotel pub with then NAON President Christy Oaks late one night after a meeting in Chicago as she patiently explained the difference between qualitative and quantitative analysis to me. Later rewriting some notes I had written for class discussions and a paper, I reflected on that conversation and realized I was indeed changing and seeing more of the bigger picture of my profession of nursing. A few days later, after some self-evaluation and reflection, I realized that the inability to understand had been a barrier. Prior to this class, I really never thought about qualitative and quantitative data and how it could apply to my practice. When recounting this event to my professor, she just laughed and stated that I had changed since starting the program but now I saw it too and I was on my way to being a change agent for our profession.


Evaluations are a great resource; they not only give one a picture of what you are doing well, but also allow you to see areas that may need improvement. I do not know about you, but I look forward to my annual evaluation at work. It provides a picture of what was accomplished or done well, and highlights areas, if any, that need to be improved upon. The annual evaluation is also the time to set new goals. Organizations, or in NAON's case volunteer associations, work in a lot of the same way, using evaluations to measure successes and find areas to improve upon.


One of the ways we used evaluations to be a change agent this year was in adjusting some things at Congress based on the evaluation feedback from this past Congress, which was held in Nashville. The end of Congress evaluations gives us a chance to see how others observed what we are doing not only well, but areas where we can improve. This is nothing new, as several years ago the Congress format was changed from 4 days to 3 days based on member feedback. One advantage to the 3-day format was the ability to not miss work if you worked a 12-hour shift, plus the savings on hotel cost etc. while still having the ability to earn needed continuing education credits. A positive change to this year's Congress, which will be held at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort May 21-24, is the ability to earn more continuing education credits before, during, and after Congress.


Another area for this year's Congress where we looked at as a change agent was with the special interest groups or SIGs. This is not the first time NAON changed how the SIG presentations are conducted during Congress. Several years ago, former NAON President Mary Jo Satusky worked as a change agent combining the numerous SIGs into four categories: education, clinical practice, research, and leadership/management. Since then the format at Congress for the SIGs has been moderator-led panel discussions intertwined with audience comments and questions. Although evaluations show that many are happy with the current format, comments showed there was room for improvement and to try something new. NAON's Education Director, Tandy Gabbert, decided to try something new while keeping what has been working well. This year, the SIGs will still have some of the panel and monitor parts along with more chances for attendees to discuss issues using a cafe-style table discussion.


As stated, change is a constant and a noticeable change you would have spotted last year if you were able to attend Congress was the Joint Connection. The Joint Connection is a concept that differs when compared to a traditional exhibit hall layout format with which most of us are probably familiar. The traditional exhibit hall format, walking up and down several aisles and visiting vendor booths, was no longer effective due to fewer vendors, the amount of time spent viewing, and the type of interactions we were able to have with them.


The Joint Connection gives the attendees and vendors a whole new experience at Congress.


With the new interactive layout, the Joint Connection is now the center of the Congress layout, functioning as a hub that accommodates all the attendees' needs into one central location. Now, you are able to network with fellow nurses and vendors, recharge your cell or tablet at a charging station, or recharge yourself in a lounge-style environment.


And just because change is a constant does not necessarily mean something has to change.


Congress traditionally has been the third week in May, but is this still the best time for us as an association to hold this event? One of the problems noted for this time of the year and month is conflicts with graduation and other events such as weddings. Could this date be a barrier to members and nonmembers to attending Congress or is it not an issue? This question was recently asked in a member survey, and results confirmed that our members prefer our traditional May date. This was great news to me, as noted from the introduction; I sometimes have a problem with change.


During my time with NAON, I have been blessed to know several change agents, such as former NAON President Marjorie Kulesa who continues her work as a member of NAON and now as Vice President with the United States Bone and Joint Initiative (USBJI). As a member of the USBJI steering committee for Movement is Life, she is helping to make an impact through reducing musculoskeletal health disparities due to one's gender and/or racial/ethnic background. By bringing awareness to this problem, among African American and Hispanic women, along with education on the importance of early intervention, the Movement is Life coalition's goal is not only improving individual health, but also increasing visibility of the issue. Hopefully with increased visibility, positive healthcare policies will be made at a national level, thereby improving the overall health of our nation.


Change, though a constant, rarely happens on its own. Every change, whether small or large, requires a person who first had a vision, and was willing to spend time working to implement that change. Change agents are the catalysts that help bring about change. Who will be our future change agents? Will it be you? NAON's future will be determined by its member's dreams and future leader's visions. What is your vision?




Hood L. J. (2010). Leddy & Pepper's conceptual bases of professional nursing (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. [Context Link]