By Quincey Taylor
Hundreds of nursing alumni. Forty locations. One night to remember. March 7, 2019, was the College of Nursing’s sixth annual Night of Nursing at Brigham Young University. This event took place on campus but was broadcast to locations across the country, connecting nursing alumni through a night of fun, laughter, prizes, and inspiring messages.
The idea for this event was sparked to help nursing alumni throughout the nation stay connected to the college while also learning of other nursing individuals in their communities for support and more networking opportunities.
The evening focused on recruited hosts inviting nursing alumni and friends to their home; many sites joined a conference call to learn about current college happenings. Through the video broadcast, each location could view the others, see other participants, and reminisce about university experiences. The message originated on campus and featured a message from Dean Patricia Ravert.
Four hundred and thirty-four BYU alumni, nursing alumni, and friends of the College of Nursing at Brigham Young University came together to create friendships. With participants at so many different locations celebrating, this year’s gatherings was the largest collective college-sponsored alumni event to date.
One attendee sharing feedback on a post-event survey said, “We liked seeing those from far away cities. We saw others around the country that we know or went to school with. Thank you for this event to keep us connected!” Another alum wrote, “I loved being able to connect to so many locations and see classmates in other areas!”
Plan to join a party next year on March 5, 2020. The broadcast will feature Dr. Sandra Rogers (BS ’74), former college dean and current international vice president at Brigham Young University; she is also chair of the BYU Women’s Conference. Her message of humor, deep insights, and a powerful testimony will only be available to those participating in a broadcast watch party.
The college is also partnering with BYU–Idaho Nursing to invite their nursing alumni across the nation to participate in their community. This unique collaboration will strengthen both alumni groups as they share the same values, profession, and sponsoring organization of their universities.
Hosts Make Night of Nursing Come Alive
Hosts offered to make Night of Nursing happen in their hometown, wherever that may be. These hosts, who were not paid or compensated, opened their homes to fellow nurses and BYU alumni out of the goodness of their hearts.
Emily Dougall (BS ’05, MS ’12) of Chesterfield, Michigan, was the gracious host for the Detroit, Michigan area. She was inspired to get involved after seeing pictures of Night of Nursing in other locations in 2018. She says, “After seeing friends and fellow BYU alumni post photos to Facebook last year of their Night of Nursing, I’ll admit I had a little Facebook envy. I felt left out. I decided I wanted to make it happen for my area the following year, even though I knew we’d be a very small gathering.” After making the preparations and using the hosting kit provided by the college, Dougall had great success.
Thanks to her employer that provided some supplies, Dougall’s hosting skills excelled as the refreshments for the party resembled a medical clinic lab. There was apple juice in specimen cups (urine collection), marshmallows (cotton balls), licorice ropes (blood vessels), cups of candy (morning meds), and homemade brownies.
She says, “There were five of us—three BYU alumna with myself, Jennifer W. Maruri (BS ’00), and Annette J. Dahl (BS ’05), and two additional nursing friends we know from the area. We had a great night and plan to make it happen again next year. The best part was purely the chance to talk and share our varied experiences in career, educational, and family paths. It is so insightful to see how others use their degrees and how they balance life after their degree. If you are wondering whether you should attend or not, do it! Never miss a chance to connect with someone new.”
Nurses empathize with each other concerning the various experiences that they have in their line of work. By coming together, nurses strengthen one another and show that each is not alone. Heidi W. Schaber (BS ’05), the host for the Spokane, Washington, gathering, says “I think nursing is a unique profession and one where we can make quick bonds with other nurses who have the same love of service and caring for others.”
Holly B. Simmons, a BYU Humanities alumna from Arlington, Virginia, was the host for a Washington, DC, gathering. She believes it is important for nurses to have the chance to meet and says, “It helps to find other nurses who understand the stress; they provide advice and support to each other.” It was impactful to meet with other BYU alumni and share thoughts about their university experiences. She says, “One of our nurses shared several stories about his BYU professors and what they meant to him.”
Each host is given the liberty to customize their gathering of how they choose. Hosts are encouraged to be creative and celebrate nursing in different ways. Simmons used Night of Nursing as an opportunity to teach stake youth about the BYU nursing program. Opportunities like this can be especially impactful to young people who are still thinking about who they want to become.
Another host shared how her guests opened up to each other and connected. She says, “I invited nursing students, and it lifted everyone. My guests ended up sharing testimonies. It was moving.” Even though this host did not originally plan to have a testimony meeting, the Spirit was felt by all who attended, and she was grateful for the event’s flexibility.
Corrine B. Nelson, a BYU Family, Home, and Social Sciences graduate hosted the event for the Dallas, Texas, area. She went above and beyond by serving dinner while guests shared memories of their time at BYU. Each attendee felt that she cared for and appreciated them, even though she did not study nursing while in school.
Networking is another reason Night of Nursing is so helpful to nursing alumni. Tammy B. Rampton (BS ’05), the host of the Boise, Idaho, gathering, says, “In talking with one another, we were all able to share job opportunities and ideas for different situations and needs as well as just enjoy the feeling of being in a group where you have an instant connection and common interests.” By finding these connections, nurses can find the best opportunities for their careers.
She believes the best part of Night of Nursing was visiting and getting to know other great nurses in her community. “Personally, my favorite part is hearing everyone’s story of what they have done in nursing and life since they graduated. They have worked in a variety of areas and had different ways of balancing nursing with the rest of life.”
To help make the process as seamless as possible, the College of Nursing staff helps hosts in any way they can. Assistance for advertising as well as potential activities is given to all volunteers.
Once a location is determined, the college sends postcard invitations to alumni in the area informing them of the party details (time, location, host, etc.).
Every host is sent a hosting kit, or party-in-a-box, to make the experience memorable. Included in the kit are BYU swag and prizes, games, balloons, a list of BYU nursing alumni invited to the location, and extra invites. Simmons says her favorite part of the hosting kit was the recipe for BYU mint brownies. Making this dessert brings a little bit of BYU into the event, regardless of where you are.
“As hosts, party-in-a-box makes us feel supported by BYU—we certainly feel unity and the spirit of the Y,” Simmons relates. These gatherings, regardless of the number of attendees, can bring the spirit of the Y into the lives of BYU alumni in your area.
Schaber says, “Hosting a Night of Nursing broadcast watch party is very easy. It is a fun activity that gives you satisfaction and helps you remember the Healer’s art. The evening is also a great way to share your BYU pride.”
You Are Not Alone
There are nurses wherever you go, and many times, a friend is out there waiting to make a connection. Schaber says, “There were more nursing alumni close by than we realized.” Night of Nursing will be continued as a tradition of fun, bringing strangers together and making friends who otherwise might not have met.
The next Night of Nursing is Thursday, March 5, 2020. There are two ways to participate: Host. Let us know if you are willing to host an event in your community by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Attend. In February 2020, visit nightofnursing.com to view location details.
Hosts appreciate the party-in-a-box:
The materials and information you need to be successful are provided! (door prizes, raffle tickets, host guide, printed materials for participants, etc.)
The extra invites are great to send out to nurses in the area who are not BYU grads but are interested in networking.
Hosts may use the event to support their community, as an opportunity for youth in the community to learn about nursing as a career, as a university alumni chapter activity, or as a service project to support youth sports programs or collect refugee materials.