Rounds with Leadership: Turning 10:Celebrating the Graduate Nursing Student Academy

Cynthia McCurren, AACN Board Chair and Deborah Trautman, AACN President and CEOWelcome to Rounds with Leadership, a forum for AACN’s Board Chair and President/CEO to offer commentary on issues and trends impacting academic nursing.

October 26, 2022 - Turning 10:  Celebrating the Graduate Nursing Student Academy

In October 2012, AACN officially launched the Graduate Nursing Student Academy (GNSA) at its Fall Semiannual Meeting – now the Academic Nursing Leadership Conference – in Washington, DC. Though AACN had enjoyed a long history of providing services and guidance to students attending member schools, the Board of Directors realized that something more structured was needed to meet the professional development needs of graduate nursing students who were poised to assume leadership roles in the profession as faculty, researchers, administrators, and expert clinicians.

From its inception, the GNSA has provided opportunities for graduate students to learn, network, and lead.  Membership, which has always been free, offers a wide variety of programs and resources, including webinars, a customized career center, an online collaboration community, a monthly newsletter, and opportunities to lead. Based on feedback from students, a strong focus throughout GNSA programming continues to be leadership development, career pathways, APRN role exploration, securing research funding, grant writing, publishing, and succeeding in teaching positions.

Since its launch a decade ago, the GNSA has been an integral part of AACN. Membership is fast approaching 10,000 students with representatives from more than 85% of nursing schools offering graduate degree programs. AACN routinely seeks to infuse the voice of graduate students into our work, and GNSA members are appointed to serve on AACN committees and working groups, including the Academic Progression Task Force, Task Force for the Future of Nursing Education, and the advisory group that created the Trailblazing Innovation Faculty Tool Kit.

A closer look at a few numbers help to showcase the impact and reach of the GNSA. Since 2012:

  • 36 students have served in the GNSA Leadership Council, which meets regularly and provides guidance on priorities and programming
  • 657 have served as GNSA Liaisons who share details on programs offered with students at their home institutions
  • 215 students have served as GNSA Advocacy Leaders who help boost federal and local policy efforts
  • $976,000 in scholarship funding (152 scholarship awards) has been disbursed by AACN to GNSA members
  • 97 webinars have been offered
  • 116 issues of the GNSA Bulletin have been published and disseminated
  • 588 discussion threads have been initiated on the GNSA Connect discussion forum

Preparing the next generation of nurses to lead change and foster innovation in academic, research, and practice settings is a priority for AACN. We encourage all member schools to share information about the GNSA with their graduate students and ask them to join and take advantage of the many benefits available to them, including the upcoming GNSA Virtual Career Fair, which will be held on November 16. Through this opportunity, students can engage with employers nationwide and explore practice, faculty, and leadership roles. For more information on this event, click here.