11 December 2014

GAPFON grows

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—The second meeting of the Global Advisory Panel on the Future of Nursing (GAPFON) is over. We spent a day and a half in Puerto Rico to review progress since our first meeting in Basel and to plan for the future. Since our last meeting, a website has been created for GAPFON where you can see a list of panelists, our purpose, and sponsors. Additional information will be posted there as work progresses.

The next step is to hold regional consultations on the work of GAPFON, starting in the Middle East­—in Jordan­—and to determine priorities for these regions. In July, the 26th International Nursing Research Congress convenes in Puerto Rico, and, before Congress, two GAPFON consultations will take place here for the Caribbean and Latin America. Did someone mention Puerto Rico? In that case, I’ll be there!

Puerto Rico
This was my first visit to Puerto Rico. It will not be my last. I am glad to see that I have space in my diary to be here in July, and I have already decided that Puerto Rico is the destination for a holiday sometime soon for Mrs. Watson and me, fuelled by air miles and hotel loyalty points. Perhaps it will make up for missing our wedding anniversary—again—today. I have, literally, never fallen in love with anywhere so quickly. 

Buildings of Old San Juan.
This place is an island paradise. It's Hispanic, yet American territory, definitely the best of both those worlds. Coming from London’s Heathrow Airport on a dark, subzero winter morning and landing in this warm and sunny place with friendly people and discovering, as I did, that Puerto Rico is the home of the piña colada only accentuated my enjoyment. For me, it has everything. I could run in the early morning, and Old San Juan is a most beautiful town to visit. It is also inexpensive. My good friends and colleagues of GAPFON helped make this a memorable two days.

Restaurant Barrachina, home of the piña colada,
according to a plaque on the wall. 
I was also delighted to find the tomb of Juan Ponce de León in the local cathedral. Juan is a bit of a hero of mine as some consider him to be the original gerontologist. The claim is a bit spurious. He did not study ageing as such; he merely came in search of the Springs of Bimini which, to drink from, allegedly give eternal youth. He may have found the fabled springs but, as his tomb testifies, eternal youth evaded him. His conquistador colleagues did not, exactly, acquit themselves with distinction. They enforced a new religion upon the populace with considerable violence and introduced local women—and presumably the men—to sexually transmitted diseases.

Flying home for Christmas
I am writing this in San Juan airport, officially known as the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. As I await my flight to Miami and then on to London, the holidays are on my mind. I like travelling, but these are the last flights until mid-January when I visit Finland and Qatar in quick succession, and I am quite glad.

When I get home, I have a week of work involving a faculty forum, where I will speak briefly to colleagues about our research and implications of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, the results of which are published next week. I also have several supervisions with doctoral students, a writing-for-publication workshop for National Health Service colleagues in Sheffield, and a teleconference on the day before we break up. On the evening of the last day of work (December 19), my wife, two of my sons, and I are going to listen to a show by comedian Frank Skinner, one of my favourites. Then I plan to eschew the Internet for two weeks and spend some time with my family, close and extended. Normal service will be resumed after my visit to Qatar.

Happy holidays!

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International. Comments are moderated. Those that promote products or services will not be posted.

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