Q&A with Renee Likong

President of the NYS chapter of the National Association of Licensed Practical Nurses is bringing LPNs and healthcare workers from across the country to Buffalo

By Brenda Alesii

Ever been inspired by a song? Renee Likong, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) since 2005, was listening to her car radio in a storm when “Lift Me Up” by Rihanna started playing. It motivated Likong to present the idea of hosting a national convention in Western New York honoring licensed practical nurses at the M Hotel on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga from Oct. 11 – 14. Her proposal was accepted, meaning that dozens of healthcare workers will visit the Buffalo area to learn and network.

In Good Health recently spoke to Likong, a Buffalo resident, Marine Corps veteran, and president of the New York State Chapter of the National Association of Licensed Practical Nurses.

Q.  This will be the first gathering in the area of United States members, which will coincide with the 75th anniversary of the national chapter’s founding. Why did you think the Buffalo area would be a good fit for the convention?

A.  We must let nurses know we are not alone. Nurses are still dealing with the repercussions of COVID, we’re still facing different types of trauma — even being beat up in some situations — and there’s always the issue of staffing shortages. We’re so excited to be the host organization that brings together, for the first time since the pandemic, nurses and healthcare workers from all corners of the U.S. and we happen to be doing this on the anniversary of the founding of our national organization by Lillian Custer in 1948. I’m a proud New Yorker and am glad to bring it home. It’s our foundation.

Q.  This isn’t the first time you’ve sponsored an event of this magnitude, right?

A. In 2019, we sponsored it at Shea’s Seneca in Buffalo, so I contacted the people who ran this one and asked if they could re-create their very successful event again to start our convention. They agreed and jumped right in. They had put a hold on the event from 2020 until now due to COVID but are eager to go all out for us starting on Oct. 11th. It will be even bigger and better this year.

Q.  What is the role of an LPN?

A.  LPNs have advanced in so many arenas, including being directly in charge of patient care. I became a nurse because I’m patient-focused and wanted to understand what makes a person ill, and how to make the situation better. We are integral to the health care arena. In the past, licensed practical nurses were never allowed to do certain procedures, but now things have opened up. LPN duties and responsibilities now include treatments such as wound care and IV therapy. We continue to work in a variety of positions: asthma educator, nephrology care, hospice and palliative, and certain types of brain injuries.

Q.  Do you think in the hierarchy of personnel — medical doctors, registered nurses, other practitioners — that LPNs are disregarded?

A.  That perception is out there, but that’s one of the reasons our organization employs best practices and strives for the best care for our patients, and why we continue to advocate for LPNs. It’s important that we always know our scope of practice, otherwise we are doing a disservice to the patient and ourselves. I refuse to let any type of frustration I may feel negate anything I do.  At the October convention here, we will continue to learn and earn continuing education credits and network with others in our field, which can only enhance our experiences in the field.

Q. Are you optimistic about the future of licensed practical nurses?

A.  Yes. Learning and advocating for ourselves and other healthcare heroes is essential. This convention will go a long way towards that.

Q. How does one register for it?

A. It’s easy to register, just go to www.nalpn.org. Tickets for the Oct. 11 “Nurses Night – Celebrating All Healthcare Heroes” can be purchased at www.NursesNightofCelebration.com. It is open to all healthcare workers and their friends.

For more information, contact Likong at reneelikong@gmail.com.