Whether you know Nurse Blake (Blake Lynch) from his Facebook videos, podcasts, live comedy shows, or cruises, he’s proven that he’s a nursing force to be reckoned with using his humor to bring nurses together.
After graduating with a BSN from the University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, and working in trauma centers around the country, Nurse Blake started posting original comedy videos to cope with the stress of his nursing job. His lighthearted videos connect with nurses, nursing students, and healthcare workers worldwide, and he entertains almost four million followers on social media while lifting healthcare workers across the globe.
But Nurse Blake is more than comedy.
He’s the creative force behind NurseCon at Sea, one of the largest and most popular nursing conferences, and the NurseCon app, which provides free continuing nursing education courses.
Meet Nurse Blake, a nurse, creator, internationally touring comedian, healthcare advocate, keynote speaker, and creator of NurseCon at Sea.
Minority Nurse talked with Nurse Blake about running one of the most popular nursing conferences and his plans for NurseCon at Sea 2024 in Mexico.
Where did you go to nursing school, and what was the experience like for you?
I graduated from Seminole State College and the University of Central Florida in 2014. I was in a concurrent program. So, I got my ADN through Seminole State and my bachelor’s through the University of Central Florida.
Nursing school was hard, challenging, and not easy, and I had a lot of meltdowns, but I did it. And when I was about halfway through my program in 2013, I became president of the Florida Nursing Student Association. And that sheds light on gaps in education for nurses. I attended many nursing conferences; they were all so boring in these hideous corporate centers. So, I knew back in nursing school that I wanted to shake up the nursing conference world, but I didn’t know what that would look like. I thought about taking over one of the state nursing conferences, but zooming ahead to 2019, I decided to create my conference, NurseCon.
What was your inspiration to create one of the largest and most popular nursing conferences, and what goes into planning such a big event?
When people ask if I’m still a nurse at the bedside or in a hospital, I’m not anymore because I’m not only busy with my comedy tour, which takes me away multiple months out of the year, but I also manage and run NurseCon with a team of 90 people, including full-time and part-time employees and contractors. NurseCon is a massive team effort; I couldn’t do it alone. I have an office in Orlando, Florida, which is convenient because our cruises sail from Miami. So, in addition to the 1,000 staff members, we have a team of almost 100 NurseCon at Sea people trying to make this conference the best experience for our guests. So, we have educators and customer service, and we bring in our dancers, DJs, and production. So, if you look at our pictures from NurseCon at Sea and say, “Wow, that pool is so lit,” it’s because we bring our fog machines, lasers, and lighting. We have a huge production team and staff that helps elevate the regular cruise ship experience, which is already so amazing and epic, but we want to put the NurseCon at Sea touch to it.
Education is the most important. NurseCon at Sea isn’t a nursing conference without education. So, we are accredited by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the California Board of Nursing. I have three DNPs that run and manage nurse candidacy education full time. We are super committed to it, and we’ll probably bring on 30 educators on our next sailing to deliver over 70 hours of CNEs. That number has gone up every year. Our first year, it was 20 hours of CNEs. Then it was 36. And now we’re jumping to almost 80, which is pretty impressive. And it’s all included in the price of the conference. We also specialize in continuing nursing education for nurse practitioners and the pharmacology track. CNEs are expensive, hard to find, and nurses need many hours. So, that’s also something we provide, and that’s included. We’ll probably have about 150 nurse practitioners in our pharmacology track on the cruise ship, which is incredible.
Do NurseCon participants request course offerings that you incorporate into the nursing conference?
Yes, we have education committees made up of some of our educators and also participants of NurseCon at Sea. This is their experience. We provide the venue, the CNEs, and the entertainment, but the guests make it an experience. So, we also always value our feedback and survey our guests after our cruise sails and even on the ship to make it the experience that nurses deserve and the experience they want. It’s such an inclusive, happy conference. And it’s all because of our guests. They make it such a safe space for everyone to be themselves and talk about the issues they’re facing, and to me, that’s the most extraordinary thing about NurseCon at Sea. We have nursing students that come on. We have retired nurses and nurses from around the world attending many specialties. Everyone in the nursing world can learn from each other even though you’re not from a specific specialty. And no matter your age or status. We’re all here to learn from each other. No matter how many degrees you have or certifications, no one’s better than anyone else.
Everyone attending NurseCon looks like they’re having a great time. Talk about what a nurse attending NurseCon can expect.
It’s epic. Vacations sometimes are once in a lifetime for people, and for them to connect with friends and family or coworkers is super special. We’ve done three cruises since we launched and had groups of nursing students who graduated together 20 years ago. Now it’s their annual trip, and they’ve been on all three. So, now it’s becoming a tradition for some people, and that’s special.
People make T-shirts, go all out on our theme nights, and are already getting their outfits ready. So, it’s a community within a community. And not even I am in all these special groups where they talk about what they’re going to do for next year. So, it’s so cool that it even lives outside of me, and NurseCon at Sea has become its own culture created by the guests.
Next year’s NurseCon event is in Mexico. Can you talk more about the courses and features?
Mexico’s going to be great. We always want to provide a new incredible location or port. So, people can get off the ship and choose whatever activities they want to participate in. We also have two full days at sea, so it’ll be our longest one yet. And that’s because people wanted it to be longer. And our theme nights are sports night and fairy tales. So, everyone will be super busy, and I can’t wait to see everyone’s outfits. I know the dancers are so excited and already rehearsing and working on the production. We meet every day about NurseCon at Sea, so as soon as the last one is over, we’re already preparing for the next one. I will be working on booking our 2025 cruise later this month.
The NurseCon at Sea app provides users with their continuing education for free. But it’s more than education. Please talk about your inspiration to create the app and its impact on nurses.
We have the NurseCon app; you can also access it on NurseCon.com. If you can’t attend the conference or need CNEs, we have a library where nurses can get them for free. I know a lot of other websites out there that say it’s free, but then you take the course, and then you have to pay for this certificate, or only one course is free. Ours is free, which is cool. I decided to launch this during the pandemic. I knew nurses were working so hard going through that, and I wanted to provide them with an education platform so they can get their courses for free. So, that stayed consistent. Once nurses attend our cruise, they can get their CNEs through that platform. And we will also be putting our courses from the cruise on that platform. If you can’t attend the event for whatever reason but are interested in those courses, you will take them and get the CNEs for free after the ship has sailed.
We like to talk about topics that many other conferences don’t necessarily talk about, and that’s so special. The coolest part is that you don’t have to be a nurse to attend. You have to be a guest of a nurse. And we were doing a course on pediatric trans health, and a nurse attended with her husband, who was just on as her guest. And he’s not in healthcare at all, but he sat through the course and came up to the educator afterward and cried. And they thanked the educator because their child is trans, and they learned so much from a non-healthcare perspective just from being on the ship and attending a CNE that the nurse didn’t have to attend. Knowing that it’s going to have a positive impact on their child’s life and their life as a family unit is what makes continuing education for nurses the most special.
What makes NurseCon at Sea different from other nursing conferences?
It’s the diversity on the ship. It’s incredible. I’ll look around a room, and this is what nursing is supposed to look like. This is what nursing is supposed to be, just like this in this positive environment with nurses of all ages and backgrounds coming together and learning from each other. That’s all the community. It gets back to all our guests, making it a safe space for everyone.
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