March 2024 President's Letter

Greetings SPN Members!


I first realized the value of professional networking after taking a leadership position in a community hospital where the pediatric service comprised only 5% of the hospital’s patient population. I had worked at a free-standing children’s hospital in the years prior, practicing with robust pediatric resources - clinicians with specialized pediatric knowledge, therapists who were highly trained in the care of infants and children, and a culture that valued patient and family centered care. In the community hospital setting, resources and support to the pediatric service were extremely limited. This made me realize I needed to make connections and build relationships to have access to professional resources to support myself and my team, leading me to become a member of SPN.

I vividly recall my first SPN Annual Conference and the feeling of excitement and energy of spending time with other pediatric nurses who shared the same interest and passion for caring for children. I returned to work after the conference feeling more confident and equipped with the knowledge of learning new concepts about clinical practice, leadership, advocacy, and research. Since that time, I have made it a point to prioritize professional membership in organizations that bring value to me personally and professionally.


Prior to COVID-19, my team and I had started work to bring together Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) managers from the community NICUs who refer patients to our Level IV NICU. Our vision was to create a network where managers could collaborate, share best practice, and support each other in addressing the unique needs of the NICU. Although COVID-19 disrupted our initial efforts, we realized during the pandemic the need to create this network was even more crucial. We began virtual meetings in August 2021 and have continued to meet quarterly since then. What started as a networking opportunity for NICU managers quickly grew to include directors and neonatal clinical nurse specialists. The networking has led to relationship building and collaboration between our hospitals. Participants discuss current issues they are facing and hear from their colleagues how others are managing similar situations. For many, they have found comfort in knowing that other organizations are facing similar challenges and that they are not alone. We have discussed topics covering multiple domains of nursing leadership, including clinical care, leadership, regulatory requirements, innovation, advocacy, and education. Participants have shared this network has had positive impact on their horizontal and vertical working relationships as well as how they function in their role.

Participant engagement has contributed to the development of workplace social capital, which occurs when networks of social relationships create value and resources for individuals and organizations. Through developing a relational network, trust, a shared understanding, reciprocity in the exchange of knowledge and resources, and social cohesion, this network has embodied the defining attributes of workplace social capital.


I encourage you to begin building your network within SPN. You can start by connecting with other members online in the SPN online discussion forum. This is a great virtual community to ask questions and share with others what you are doing in your facility.

SPN’s upcoming 34th Annual Conference is another excellent opportunity to engage in professional networking and gain new knowledge. Early bird registration ends March 13, so be sure to take advantage of the cost savings and register now!  Encourage your colleagues who are not SPN members to consider the value of SPN membership and Annual Conference attendance so we can continue to build our community.

Kathy Van Allen, MSN, RN, CPN

SPN President

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