For the first time in 16 years, Augustana is hosting the state nursing convention, sponsored by the Nursing Student Association of South Dakota (NSASD). The convention runs all day Friday, March 21 and will continue on Saturday at the Holiday Inn in downtown Sioux Falls.

Any South Dakota school that has its own Nursing Student Association (NSA) chapter can host the annual convention. Nursing instructor Karla Abbott has been an adviser for the past four years.

“I could see we had a really good, innovative, enthusiastic group of students coming up, and so I thought, “If we’re going to host the convention, it has to be with this group of students,’” Abbott said.

This year’s convention theme is “Waves of Change, Oceans of Opportunity,” and it will focus on the transformations nursing has gone through over the years, from its very beginnings to the significant changes the healthcare industry will undergo under Obamacare.

“We want to talk about how nursing has changed over the last generation, and so we’ll be opening the convention with a panel of elderly nurses,” chair of the convention and junior Nicole Elsasser said. “I’m excited to talk about change and look at the past and the future,”

The convention will include 20 different speakers and numerous vendors, representing institutions such as the Mayo Clinic, Sanford, Avera-McKennan, Rapid City Regional, Alegent Creighton Health and the University of Iowa School of Nursing.

“I’m really looking forward to hearing all the different speakers we have lined up,” senior Sarah Queck said. “I’m excited to see what their take on our topic will be. We didn’t assign them specific things to talk about, we just told them our theme, so I’m excited to see what information they’re going to provide us.”

Queck co-chaired the event with Elsasser, as well as serving as head chair of vendors and head chair of the treasury for the event. The convention planning, which began a year ago, involved 10 different committees, each with two or three members.

Junior Joslyn Bialas has been working with numerous committees to provide help wherever is needed, as well as serving on the state nursing board with Elsasser.

“Working with the convention has been so much fun,” Bialas said. “There have been lots of opportunities for leadership and communication with community leaders, opportunities other college students don’t get.”

The city of Sioux Falls also provides nursing students with numerous opportunities to explore their field, from their involvement at the state convention to the proximity of two competitive healthcare providers, Sanford and Avera-Mckennan.

“Augustana gives you a much broader and more complex view of nursing,” Bialas said.

According to Abbott, student involvement in the convention has been impressive.

“I’m extremely proud of this group and all the work they’ve done,” she said. “They’ve learned a lot along the way and I have too. I’m so impressed with their organization. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I want to give them a lot of credit. I haven’t had to do anything, a few things here and there maybe, but really, they have been amazing.”