Nursing Celebrated, Honored at NC Nurses Association Convention

Two CarolinaEast Nurses holding award plaque

For two days, the North Carolina Nurses Association (NCNA) helped bring a bit of normalcy to nurses with networking, continuing education, and professional development as part of its 114th Annual Convention in Concord. NCNA honored nurses and put a special focus on the theme of resiliency and burnout as the profession rounds out its second full year on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday, September 23, 16 nurses, facilities, and nurse-advocates received awards. On September 24, the association installed Meka Douthit EL, DNP, RN, NE-BC, as its 55th president and welcomed its next slate of leaders by electing a new Board of Directors.

“I want you to know: at NCNA we see you, we hear you, and we are thankful for you,” said Douthit EL. She went on to add, “In a world where diversity matters – it is one of our values at NCNA – I am blessed and honored and proud to stand before you as the third African American president, following in the footsteps of Sandra Wilder and Dr. Ernest Grant.”

CarolinaEast Medical Center, New Bern, was given the 2021 Best Practice – Caring for Others Award. As soon as COVID vaccines became available, the nursing staff at CarolinaEast Medical Center recognized that historically marginalized populations in Craven County might be hard to reach. They worked with community members and looked to take vaccination events directly to churches and other sites. The team prepped a mobile unit to distribute single-shot doses to people who might not be able to arrange appointments for a second dose. Much of Eastern Carolina lags the rest of the state for vaccinations, but these efforts have helped Craven County maintain numbers higher than many surrounding counties.

After a year and a half of virtual meetings, NCNA was excited to host an in-person event with strict safety protocols that ensured a safe environment for attendees, speakers, exhibitors, and staff. Attendees were able to earn up to 24.25 hours of continuing nursing education, including on-demand options. Before the event, NCNA surveys indicated that roughly 90 percent of its membership was vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We are incredibly proud of the way everyone approached this event, from both the organizing and attendee perspective. People respected the protocols and overwhelmingly understood the importance of maintaining a safe environment,” NCNA CEO Tina Gordon said. “Our nurses told us they needed this. Many of them saw Convention as an outlet for practicing self-care during what has been an awfully challenging couple of years. We are grateful many could take advantage of this opportunity, even as we missed seeing some of our friends and colleagues whose workloads or workplace travel restrictions prevented them from attending.”

NCNA and its members are heading into 2022 with a better-informed plan for tackling burnout in the midst of a pandemic and the association is optimistic about achieving some of its legislative priorities that will improve healthcare delivery across the state.

As the leading professional organization for North Carolina’s registered nurses, we equip nurses at all stages to thrive in an ever-changing healthcare environment. NCNA helps keep North Carolina nurses on the cutting edge of nursing practice, policy, education, and more. Join us as we work to advance nursing and ensure high-quality healthcare for everyone.

Established in 1902, NCNA provides continuing education, networking and legislative advocacy for registered nurses throughout North Carolina. For more information, please visit

By Chris Cowperthwaite, APR, Director of Communications & Outreach