TORONTO, May 1, 2014 – End-of-life care will be one topic front and centre at the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario's (RNAO) 89th Annual General Meeting (AGM).
Members of the professional body will have the opportunity to debate and approve a resolution that, if passed, will position RNAO to urge the provincial and federal governments to engage in formal, public conversations on end-of-life care. The resolution takes into account several aspects related to end-of-life care, including personal autonomy, justice, and universal access to palliative care. "This is a very sensitive and important topic, and we need to know if members want to be part of encouraging the conversation," says Doris Grinspun, RNAO's CEO.
More than 500 RNs, nurse practitioners and nursing students are expected to be in attendance at this Toronto gathering, which will also celebrate RNAO's many achievements in health policy and clinical excellence.
"Our theme this year is Leading the way forward for nursing, which is testament to our gains, and a good indicator for the work that lies ahead," says Seidman-Carlson, president of RNAO, adding that "we know the health system needs to change, and nurses must help shape that future with our forward-thinking. This is why we just released a comprehensive and bold vision, which we will also share at our AGM."
This year's AGM will also welcome incoming President Vanessa Burkoski, as Rhonda Seidman-Carlson's two-year term in the position comes to a close. Dr. Burkoski, who has practised nursing for 30 years, is the vice-president/chief nursing executive of quality, patient safety and professional scholarly practice at London Health Sciences Centre. She was also the provincial chief nursing officer, charged with providing strategic policy advice to the Ministry of Health from 2007 to 2011.
"I look forward to assuming the helm of RNAO, a voluntary, professional association committed to improving nursing, the health system, and the health of Ontarians," says Burkoski. "The association's 36,000-plus members have enormous power to influence health, health care and nursing policy and practice. It's my honour to represent their voices and bring their views to the forefront."
The three-day meeting will also feature speeches by Health Minister Deb Matthews; Bill Walker, MPP (Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound) and Progressive Conservative Critic for Children and Youth Services; Dr. Judith Shamian, president of the International Council of Nurses; and Dr. Barb Mildon, president of the Canadian Nurses Association.
In addition to hearing from political and stakeholder leaders, RNs will take time to honour the significant achievements of their colleagues for contributions to nursing practice, policy, research, administration and education. A total of 17 RNAO Recognition Awards will be handed out. Journalists receiving awards for excellence in health-care reporting will also be recognized.
RNAOls AGM begins Thursday evening, May 1, and continues to Saturday, May 3 at the Toronto Hilton's Toronto Ballroom (145 Richmond Street West in Toronto, Ontario).
Thursday, May 1, 7 – 8 p.m.:
Friday, May 2, 8:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.:
View a complete list  of the Nursing Recognition Award winners and Media Award winners.
Saturday, May 3, 11:30 a.m.:
The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario is the professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.
For more information about RNAO, visit our website at www.RNAO.ca 
Melissa Di Costanzo, Communications Officer/Writer, RNAO
Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext. 250