POSTMARK Calgary: Why I volunteer as a session moderator

Monina Hernandez |

For one thing, I love it!

POSTMARK Calgary: Why I volunteer as a session moderator

In a second entry to POSTMARK Calgary, the author shares with RNL readers why, in addition to presenting at the International Nursing Research Congress, she moderates sessions.

Monina HernandezSomeone asked me why I volunteer as a moderator at the International Nursing Research Congress, and I decided to share my reply with RNL readers.

In my earlier post, I discussed how, as a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing (Sigma), I value networking. I emphasized the importance of doing it intentionally. I said I have gained friends through the years because of networking and have benefitted professionally.

The same is true for volunteering as a moderator. I love it for both personal and professional reasons. Every year, in addition to presenting my own research, I sign up as a research session moderator—and, as I said, I am loving it!

On a personal level, moderating helps build my confidence to speak in front of nursing scholars and academics from all over the world. True, I am an academic, a clinician, and a leader, and I sit at governance and policymaking tables in New Zealand. So I’m quite confident in speaking in front of students, health professionals, and community and hospital volunteers. However, standing in front of experts or emerging experts in various nursing specialties from around the world is a step away from my comfort zone. It’s a personal challenge that I am working to overcome through Sigma.

Moderating also gives me a glimpse of the academic culture in various countries and familiarizes me with nuances of how English is spoken around the world. We all know that languages reflect a group’s culture and history. But hearing the same language spoken in a variety of accents by people who speak the same professional language of nursing really fascinates me.

I absolutely enjoy hearing how various speakers roll their r’s, how s’s are transformed into hisses, and how diphthongs are downplayed or exaggerated, depending on where the presenter comes from. When I’m at research congress, I marvel at how similar yet different we are as humans and as nurses.

I volunteer with Sigma because I love getting up close with researchers from around the world. I like getting to know people on a personal level, and moderating allows me to do that.

On a professional level, getting to know people opens doors—through networking. This connectedness is one reason I moderate for research topics I am personally interested in.

Interacting one-on-one with researchers in real time provides me with deeper insight into my own research interests. Yes, I can chase down fellow researchers during research congress and ask them questions about their work, but moderating the Q&A portion of their presentation sessions can provide me with a Eureka moment that is essential to further development of my own ideas.

Finally, I love volunteering with Sigma because I have so much respect for our organization that I just want to help. I know my time, energy, and effort are never wasted at Sigma. The warm, welcoming atmosphere of congress oozes with respect for diversity and inclusivity.

I have one wish, though. As we prepare to usher in the International Year of the Nurse in 2020, I want the world to experience the humanity, love, honor, and courage that Sigma gatherings offer! RNL

Monina Hernandez, MNurs (Hons), PGDipHSc, PGCertTT, RN, CNS, is a director of the Nursing Council of New Zealand, a lecturer at the School of Nursing of Massey University and a migrant nurse leader in New Zealand.

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  • POSTMARK Calgary: Why I volunteer as a session moderator