Ruth Walker first learned of RNAO at Trent University. She was enrolled in the school's four-year nursing program, and kept encountering the association's best practice guidelines, which were and still are woven into the curriculum. Some of her classmates signed up for placements with the board of directors (several times a year, nursing students are invited to board meetings that exposes them to RNAO's strategic direction, initiatives and operations). "Hearing their excitement about it, I wanted to get more engaged in the profession outside of class," Walker explains.
In 2008, Walker became an RNAO member. Two years later, she began attending Kawartha-Victoria chapter meetings with a friend. She went to the 2010 annual general meeting, and gained a better understanding of what happens at the provincial level, in terms of nurses' advocacy efforts and legislation. That experience motivated her to sign on as policy and political action representative, eventually becoming communications representative in 2013. That's when she discovered the power of social media and set up the chapter's Twitter account, and re-activated the Facebook page.
Connecting with chapter members through social media was an experience Walker enjoyed being a part of. She had since stepped down from the communications role, but has stayed connected with the local executive committee. She also cherishes her membership because it's a great way to stay in touch with other nurses, including former instructors, and nursing students. "Being able to connect with them and foster ongoing relationships with other nurses in the community has become really important (to me)," she says. She also appreciates staying up-to-date with professional news. "It's easy to focus on (your) area of practice," she says. "RNAO keeps you up-to-date on other areas of practice, and is a constant reminder of the societal level of impact nurses can have."