Faculty, student leading in PNAAL

UABSON members make their mark in Philippine Nurses Association of Alabama

Photo: Ladores, Markaki, Gregorio & SapalaranPictured left to right: Gabriel Sapalaran (BVAMC nurse and PNAAL Past President), Mica Gregorio (UABHS nurse and PNAAL Secretary), Dr. Sigrid Ladores (PNAAL President) and Dr. Ada Markaki (PNAAL Associate Member) at a recent UABSON vaccine clinic.Three members of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing community have taken on leadership roles within the Philippine Nurses Association of Alabama, the first and only chapter of the Philippine Nurses Association in the state.

For the next two years, the organization will be led by Associate Professor Sigrid Ladores, PhD, RN, PNP, CNE, FAAN. Assistant Professor of Nursing Karmie Johnson, DNP, CRNP, PMHNP-BC, CNE (MSN 2011, DNP 2016), will serve as vice president, and Doctor of Nursing Practice Nurse Anesthesia Pathway student April Garlejo, BSN, RN, will be assistant secretary.

Since it was established in 2019, PNAAL has grown from a core group of six Filipino-American nurses to more than 30 members. The organization aims to support and encourage Filipino and Filipino-American nurses throughout the state through community and mentorship, in addition to volunteer and outreach activities, educational offerings and career advancement resources.

Ladores said four key tenets will guide her two-year term as president—generosity, resilience, integrity and teamwork, or GRIT. These tenets provide a foundation for meaningful work in the state and beyond and support within the organization and within surrounding communities as the organization continues to grow, Ladores said.

“My goals for the next two years are to increase our membership by at least 10 percent and reach other areas of Alabama, to engage with other nursing professional organizations in the state, especially those that serve minority groups, contribute to community outreach and volunteer activities and provide resources and support for PNAAL members,” Ladores said.

Johnson, a member of PNAAL since 2019, will work to increase recruitment, especially among undergraduate and prelicensure students, during her time as vice president.

“I’m the child of a Filipina nurse and have such respect and pride in the traditions and profession of my mother. She came to the U.S. during a nursing shortage because of her adventurous and giving spirit, attributes shared by all Filipinos,” Johnson said. “I’m excited to identify nursing students to join the PNAAL, not only because of their youthful perspective and drive but also so they can learn the rich history of Filipino nurses in America. We don’t want to limit our membership to just those of Filipino descent, but welcome associate members of all backgrounds.”

Photo: PNAAL induction for 2021-22A screen capture of the PNAAL induction for 2021-22The organization has already offered a space of support for Garlejo. She became involved in PNAAL after relocating from Seattle to Birmingham in 2020. The organization has given her a space of community during the unease and stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During the first several months of living here, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated my sense of homesickness, especially missing my parents and Filipino comfort food,” Garlejo said. “Luckily, Sigrid Ladores reached out to me via Zoom to join PNAAL, and I gladly joined. Since I’ve joined PNAAL, I find comfort surrounding myself with Filipino culture especially during times of academic and clinical stress.”

Garlejo chose to pursue, and was selected for, the role of assistant secretary for 2021-22 because becoming involved is a way to document the organization’s actions, but also to inspire other nurses, Garlejo said.

“I wanted to be involved in PNAAL to meet other Filipinos in the Birmingham community yet still manage the rigorous, demanding schedule of a UAB student nurse anesthesia resident. I hope that I inspire Filipino nurses and other nurses of color to pursue nurse anesthesia because in the U.S. only 4 percent of CRNAs are Asian/Pacific Islander and 12 percent are people of color,” she said.

This sense of community and encouragement is a major part of the organization, Ladores said, and involvement opens many opportunities for members.

“Because we are the only chapter in the state that serves as the voice for Filipino-American nurses and being the 54th chapter of PNAA allows our members to be part of a robust group of nurses committed to make a difference in this country and the world,” Ladores said. “On a more granular level, being a part of PNAAL gives our members the opportunity to network with leading Filipino-American scientists, clinicians, administrators, and educators.” 

For more information about PNAA, go to mypnaa.org.

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