1. Burkett, Lynn D. MBA, BSN, RN, ONC

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Over the past several months, it is hard not to imagine what the world will be like in another 20 or 30 years. Most of us feel we are being challenged between the virus of Covid and the virus of bigotry. As I patiently await the arrival of my first grandchild, I can only wish it will be a wonderful world (I can hear Louis Armstrong's unique voice singing the lyrics!).

Lynn D. Burkett, MBA... - Click to enlarge in new window NAON President

So much of what the future holds will be what we as nurses, Americans, humans do now. Our actions today will be a footpath, leading to a life that may be similar in some ways and distinctly different in other ways to what we knew before. One certain that will not change is interactions we have with patients. As Maya Angelou stated, "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." What better words to live by and practice the art of nursing and humanity?


I have heard stories during this crisis of how patients survived the loneliness and despair of being a patient. Many have acknowledged the presence of a nurse who took the time to speak a few words or hold a hand, rub a shoulder, and even shed tears. Family members have shared how nurses took time to give them updates on family, held iPads so that patients and family could connect, and provided the human touch. So much of what we do is by touch. That gentle hold of the hand, hug, or reassuring pat is so essential to our patients.


These simple acts of what we do day to day are part of the legacy that each of us is establishing. I guarantee one of your patients (or family members) will remember you for something you did. It doesn't have to be monumental. It may be the simplest of gestures. But it will and does mean something.


Legacy also extends to your colleagues. In the beginning of my career, there were several nurses who made an impact on me. Watching them interact with staff, patients, and families, I thought, "I want to be like that when I grow up!" As a new nurse, I heard the stories of nurses eating their young and like many of you have witnessed that behavior. These nurses nurtured their young and 30 years later, I think of them often. That was a legacy to many of us, and I feel privileged to have been the recipient of their gift.


As members of NAON, we can leave a legacy to our association. It doesn't have to be a scholarship or bequeathing money. Leaving a professional legacy is about being involved and being part of the forward momentum of the organization. It can be promoting membership in NAON to a colleague; completing a Willingness to Serve and participating on one of the committees; presenting a webinar, poster, or podium presentation; or running for an executive board position.


Our orthopaedic nursing legacy began with Dame Agnes Hunt, in Victorian England. As a child, she was disabled from osteomyelitis. But that didn't stop her-She trained as a nurse and dedicated her life to disabled children as well as WWI soldiers. How fitting that her memorial reads: "Reared in suffering thou shalt know how to solace others' woe. The reward of pain doth lie in the gift of sympathy."


Fast forward 114 years after Dame Hunt's birth to 1980 and NAON's founding members gathered to create a professional organization solely for orthopaedic nurses. The first Congress was held in 1981 in Dallas, TX, with the theme Beyond the Blue Horizon.


In the second year of our history, the first volume of Orthopaedic Nursing journal was published. The theme of the second Congress in Philadelphia was titled Knowledge, Wisdom, Unity ... Key to the Future. The first Outstanding Orthopaedic Nurse Practice Award was established as well.


The legacy continued, with membership growing each year and more highlights, including meeting Vice President George Bush, developing the certification process, publishing the Core Curriculum of Orthopaedic Nursing and other texts, collaborating with AAOS and other groups, calling on lawmakers in Washington, evidence-based education to our members and the public, research, and many other accomplishments. Each one of these past members has provided us with this legacy of goals that lives on today.


If you have never read the History of NAON, take the time to read it on our website. Other pioneers in orthopaedics are listed, with a brief summary of what each did. All our past Congresses are listed, along with a summary of the year's highlights. This is our legacy. Be proud of it!


As you reflect on your legacy, whether it is your personal or professional one, think about what is important to you. Share your blessings with others; it can be as simple as acknowledging the view outdoors that others may not take note of on a beautiful spring day. Mentoring others, particularly in nursing, is a legacy. When you share your knowledge and support another person, you establish a legacy of trust and influence.


Your legacy may not change the world, but it can leave a lasting impression on others. Be proud and celebrate the star you are-an orthopaedic nurse!


Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you. - (Shannon L. Alder)