1. Kennedy, Maureen Shawn MA, RN, FAAN


Theme and place come together at the AANP annual conference.


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Over 5,000 NPs gathered in Denver the last week of June for the annual meeting of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). Sessions were largely focused on clinical skills and updates, and included workshops on everything from suturing to performing thoracentesis with ultrasound guidance. There was also plenty of networking-and exhibits, of course. The AANP has approximately 90,000 members.

Figure. Rear Admiral... - Click to enlarge in new window Rear Admiral Susan Orsega, MSN, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN, opens the AANP national conference.

Rear Admiral (RADM) Susan Orsega, chief nurse officer of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS), opened the conference. She focused on the need for NPs to address the health inequities that exist today in the United States, noting that 12% of Americans live in poverty, and that "where we live, work, learn, and play has an effect on how we can achieve health." She encouraged NPs to be involved in their communities and to pursue positions on local boards to effect change. She cited school health as one area for advocacy, with "only 4% of elementary schools, 8% of middle schools, and 2% of high schools allowing for one hour of physical activity per day."


She highlighted the health areas the USPHS has prioritized under Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams, including the opioid epidemic ("115 people die each day"), health and the economy ("Employees who are unable to work because of preventable illness are costly in terms of lost productivity and increased health care costs"), health and national security ("Seven out of 10 men and women ages 17 to 24 are ineligible to serve in the military because of obesity, mental health issues, educational deficits, or criminal history"), and emerging threats from infectious disease, such as when Ebola was transmitted to Texas nurses by an ED patient.


Based on her experiences in global health care, RADM Orsega outlined key skills leaders need today, including the ability to work on interconnected teams; being self-aware in an unpredictable environment; collaborating to share resources and knowledge; being mindful and respectful of the culture of others; and "being a detective," that is, being aware and cognizant of one's surroundings and environment. "Practice global health at home," she said. Her message was one of pushing NPs to become active advocates to improve health, and in keeping with the conference theme and place, she charged them to "Go, move mountains!"

Figure. The city of ... - Click to enlarge in new window The city of Denver, site of the AANP conference.

In an interview with Joyce Knestrick, the current AANP president, we discussed the rapid growth of NPs. There were about 68,000 NPs in 1999, she said, and now, nearly 20 years later, there are approximately 248,000. She believes this increase was spurred by the growing recognition of the quality of care NPs provide, as well as the landmark 2010 Future of Nursing report from the Institute of Medicine, advocating that NPs should be able to practice to the full extent of their education and license. She also made the point that if all nurses were able to practice to their capabilities, the health care system would be more efficient and consumers would benefit. Currently, NPs can practice independently, without physician oversight, in 22 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam.


You can read my blog post on the conference and listen to podcasts of my interviews with RADM Orsega and Joyce Knestrick at