1. Desjardins, Michael BSN, RN

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John D. Arce was elected the 53rd president of the National Student Nurses' Association (NSNA) at the annual meeting and convention in Nashville, Tennessee, this past April. With his long history of leadership and involvement, he becomes the fourth consecutive male president of the national organization for nursing students.


In addition to being national president, Arce is finishing a term as the first vice president of the South Carolina state student nurse association and is a career Navy corpsman, husband, and father. Arce brings passion to the presidency and sees mentorship as one of his primary goals in office, focusing on advocacy to initiate new or strengthen current mentoring programs. In his personal life, Arce's mantra is balance. He believes that it's important to "always take time for a hobby or a break . . . to recharge your mind and body." It will be important for Arce to take that time as his presidency will take him across the country, representing nursing students at many health care meetings and events while he completes his nursing degree at Charleston Southern University in South Carolina.


Recently, Michael Desjardins, past president of the NSNA and currently a clinical nurse practicing in Salt Lake City, Utah, had the opportunity to interview Arce. Their conversation provides insights into the motivations, passions, and goals of a talented young man committed to serving the nation's nursing students throughout the coming year.


Michael Desjardins:John, as a Navy man, what made you want to become a nurse?


John Arce: After serving in the Navy and receiving 11 years of medical training as a corpsman, I was thinking about my future after discharge. I thought, it's great that I have all this training but how do I use it when I retire? The private sector requires licensure to practice health care. I applied to the Navy's Medical Enlisted Commissioning Program and began my education in nursing.


MD:When did your involvement in student nursing organizations begin?


JA: My interest began in my sophomore year, when I was introduced to our local student nurses association (SNA) at orientation. Our local SNA officer explained what SNA and NSNA were and described the benefits to service in each organization. This was very appealing to me-the organization was about service to others while promoting the professional and personal development of its members. As I moved into my junior year, we didn't have representation at the state level and I felt it was important that we have this. So at the state convention I threw my hat into the political ring and was elected as South Carolina's first vice president.


MD:Talk about something you accomplished during your local terms that you are proud of.

FIGURE. John D. Arce... - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE. John D. Arce, president of the

JA: At the local level, I enhanced our mentor program. There was already one started but it was only mildly effective. I was a bit more proactive and got it up and running fully.


MD:What made you want to run for president of the NSNA?


JA: I have a desire to help people and I felt the best position from which to do this was as president. I wanted to have a profound and positive effect on those I serve. The president's office has a great responsibility. My hope is to represent the future of nursing in a positive way and to be a good role model for my peers.


MD:What are your future goals?


JA: My goals are to learn and experience as much as I can, while I continue my education and obtain a master's degree in nursing. I then plan to be a family nurse practitioner and later on in my career I'd like to help mentor future nurses as a nurse educator.


MD:It's interesting to note that men have been NSNA presidents for four successive terms. Why do you think this is so?


JA: Yes, that's interesting, but I feel that the gender of the NSNA president is purely coincidental. It's great to see more men taking an active role in nursing.


MD:As a past NSNA president and a father, I know that the responsibilities of full-time classes and the NSNA presidency can be overwhelming. Do you find it hard to juggle the demands of school, family, and the NSNA?


JA: I don't feel that it's hard; it comes with the territory. What makes it easier for me is that I am surrounded by an incredible support network of family members, coworkers, and faculty. Managing time is one of the skills you must learn as a leader, nurse, and professional, and I take time for a hobby or a break from school to recharge my mind and body. It helps me to relieve stress and refocus.


MD:What is your current priority as NSNA president?


JA: Currently, I'm getting ready for our midyear convention in Daytona, Florida. I'm preparing a focus session to help state constituent presidents with their own associations. I will continue to do a lot of traveling to represent nursing students at many nursing and health care meetings throughout the year. The ANA's convention in Minneapolis was a great experience. I brought greetings to the ANA house of delegates and you can read this on the NSNA Web site at You can also visit the ANA's Web site at to read more about the convention and ANA initiatives.


MD:Why do you think participation in association activities is important?


JA: Three words: experience, experience, and experience. These associations give nursing students experience in various areas of the nursing profession. Exposure to the nursing world through nursing associations is a great way to learn about the culture of nursing. By becoming active in association activities, students have better nursing school experiences because they develop valuable leadership, managerial, and professional practice skills.


MD:Do you have a particular message you think nursing students need to hear?


JA: I feel nursing students need to hear that we need to prepare ourselves for our chosen profession and become more involved. Prepare by becoming active in local, state, and national student association activities. I try to make every meeting an opportunity for personal and professional growth. Also, in the larger scheme of things, when you give back with commitment and dedication, rewards will come without you even realizing it. I think that's the best way to be recognized-through dedication to others.


MD:When you represent nursing students at health care meetings, what do you tell people from other disciplines?


JA: I tell them they picked the wrong profession. I tell them that I represent an outstanding, intelligent, and resourceful group and that I'm proud to be their spokesperson. Nursing students are passionate about their profession and are well-informed about the issues we face as nurses. I feel that there are many students in this nation who can fill my shoes as president or serve on the national board of directors, and I'm hoping to inspire greater local, state, and national involvement throughout