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Member Spotlight, Annual Educational Conference, and Update on Member Benefits

Section Editor(s): Damato, Elizabeth

doi: 10.1097/ANC.0b013e31826538af
NANN pages

Board Member of National Association of Neonatal Nurses

Correspondence: Katie Macaluso, BA, National Association of Neonatal Nurses, 4700 W Lake Ave, Glenview, IL 60025 (

No grant funding was involved in the production of this article.

The author declares no conflict of interest.

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Christen Fenton, BSN, RN

Christen Fenton, BSN, RN

Christen Fenton, BSN, RN, describes herself as someone who initially did not know what she wanted to be when she graduated from high school. Once she decided that she wanted to become a nurse, she embraced her career choice wholeheartedly. Christen first received a degree in biology from LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas. Always a strong student, she took the medical college admission examination and scored well; however, she was not convinced that she wanted to be a physician. She worked at a veterinarian clinic for 4 years before deciding that nursing would be a good fit for her. Neonatal nursing appealed to Christen because it allowed her to use her strong background in physiology from her biology degree and her technical skills from the veterinary clinic. After relocating to Ohio, Christen entered an associate's degree nursing program at a branch campus of Kent State University. Following graduation, she worked in the Akron Children's Hospital Level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for 4 years before returning to school at Kent State and earning her bachelor's of nursing science degree 1 year later. A week later, she became a full-time graduate student in the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) program at Case Western Reserve University.

Christen explains that she decided to return to school for her neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) designation because she loves the NICU and working with babies and families. She admired the NNPs she worked with and recognized the important role they played in the care of critically ill newborns. She is appreciative of the support of her employer, Akron Children's Hospital, who provides not only financial support for her studies but also flexibility for her reduced work schedule while she is in school. Currently, she is halfway through the 16-month master's degree program.

When asked what advice she would offer to neonatal nurses who are considering returning to school, Christen noted that if becoming an NNP is your goal, you can always find a way to make it work. From her own academic experiences as well as those of other colleagues who are returning to school at other institutions, Christen says she has learned that many programs are flexible and willing to work with students' needs. The most important personal skill is to be an organized manager of your time and to avoid procrastination. Christen advises that one should think not of the long road ahead but of the steps necessary to take along the way, even if those are just to manage workload and classes, 1 week at a time. Her 2-hour commute to campus requires her to carefully manage her time to complete tasks on time. She admits that returning to school has been a challenge, but she believes that it is worth the effort because being an NNP is what she wants to do. Christen also realizes that she must keep current with educational requirements required of the various roles in the NICU. Several nurses she knows want to earn their DNP degree, and they are all hoping to do so together once she earns her “master of science in nursing” degree.

Christen values her membership in NANN for several reasons. She considers NANN's journal, Advances in Neonatal Care, to be a good resource to keep current and see what NICUs elsewhere in the country are doing to care for neonatal patients. She also finds the trends and developments in neonatal care disseminated by NANN e-News to be helpful. Christen believes that all nurses should be members of their specialty organization, and realizes that involvement in NANN is a good way to network with other neonatal nurses personally and professionally. She is eagerly anticipating the day she finishes her NNP studies, passes her certification examination, and can begin working in the role of an NNP.

If you know someone who promotes neonatal nursing and could be featured in the NANN Member Spotlight column, please contact Erin Abbey at .

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Save the Date

NANN's 29th Annual Educational Conference

Innovations in Neonatal Care

October 2–5, 2013

Nashville Convention Center and Nashville Renaissance Hotel

Nashville, Tennessee

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Staying current on your professional requirements and interests has never been easier than with CNE Now!—a series of online learning modules available for free to all NANN members. Each module reinforces essential knowledge on topics in neonatal nursing care in an engaging format that includes information on physiology and pathophysiology, management strategies, ways to involve parents and families, and areas for further research, along with clinical practice pearls and a crossword puzzle as a learning assessment tool.

The modules are evidence based and peer reviewed, thereby ensuring that you will be able to:

  • identify best practices in neonatal care and their impact on the patient and family.
  • describe nursing care for various conditions and diagnoses in the neonatal setting.
  • integrate new strategies that apply to your clinical situation.

NANN designates each module for 1 continuing nursing education (CNE) contact hour per module. To receive their CNE contact hours, nurses must read the material, pass a 10-question posttest, and complete an evaluation.

In addition to modules already posted, more are regularly in development and additional authors are sought to contribute. Would you like to get involved in this project as a reviewer or an author? Please e-mail Kristi Conley at for more information.

NANN gratefully thanks GE Healthcare for their support of the CNE Now! series.

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The newly launched NANN SmartBrief is a free e-mail news service that provides a weekly summary of professional news, trends, and updates. NANN SmartBrief saves busy neonatal nursing professional's time and keeps you current. There is too much information out there and too little time in the day to read it all. The SmartBrief editors handpick key articles from hundreds of publications, summarize each, and provide links back to the original sources, making staying up-to-speed on timely professional news and information a breeze. Visit to opt in today.

© 2012 National Association of Neonatal Nurses