Morgan Lincoln says nursing is one of the toughest professions she could have chosen. "It's constant stress, the emotional regulation that is involved," she says. "You're getting pulled in a bunch of different directions, and you sometimes feel powerless in the system to affect change on your own."
RNAO, she says, is the force, and the "reminder that, collectively, we can achieve great things."
She joined the association in 2010 as a student, while studying at the University of Toronto. Right from the beginning, she was interested in nursing advocacy - especially when it comes to the environment. Nurses, with their knowledge of the health-care system, their clinical expertise and their ability to witness and listen to patient anecdotes can "piece together a very profound story and make our leaders understand the changes needed to be made to affect the health of our society," she says.
Five months after RNAO's Ontario Nurses for the Environment Interest Group formed in 2010, Lincoln joined the group and became ONEIG's website and technology executive network officer (volunteers who sit on the association's chapters and interest groups’ executive). She later took on the role of president-elect and, in March 2013, became the group's president. She's currently transitioning to a communications role within ONEIG.
This, she says, helped to strengthen her leadership skills. She remembers "shaking like a leaf," when presenting at assembly meetings, she recalls. With a little practice - and help from mentors - Lincoln now admits she has gained "a lot of confidence." "As a novice nurse, the mentorship I've been given...these are opportunities you don't get anywhere else in your professional career," she says. "That's...helped me develop as a person, and as a nurse."
She's helped to develop ONEIG.ca, started the group's Facebook page, attended two Day at Queen's Park events, six assembly meetings, two annual general meetings, and also presented in 2014 on climate change and nursing at ONEIG's annual meeting.
Her membership also gives her a chance to attend seminars, workshops and to keep up on current nursing and health-care affairs. "If you're not involved, there will be a dearth in your practice," she says.