1. Section Editor(s): Nelson, Michelle A. PhD, MS, APRN, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN

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Nursing will save healthcare! Yes, that is right. One of the largest and most highly regulated professions within healthcare holds the key to optimal healthcare delivery worldwide. Although the past 2 years of the pandemic have dealt the world with significant devastation, we embrace 2022 with all its promise for a better tomorrow while remaining cautiously optimistic. Nursing as a whole has suffered immeasurable loss of life and livelihood and reduced quality of life, further exacerbating the workforce issues evidenced by a severe nursing shortage. Rural areas in many states are still faced with a lack of advanced practice providers. NPs are generally more willing than physicians to settle in rural areas where they are sorely needed. They can fill the gaps in healthcare deserts with quality, safe, and cost-effective care. However, without greater advocacy, we will not get there.


A better healthcare future

It is time for NPs to harness the power of advocacy steeped in boldness, action, bravery, and perseverance. The attainment of full-practice authority (FPA) throughout the country has been a protracted and arduous task, spanning decades for many states. Attainment of FPA is critical if NPs are to expand access without needless restrictions that stifle healthcare availability. As the saying goes, "The race is not to the swift, but to those who endure to the end." We must acknowledge that the end of the FPA fight is only a starting point as our mandate is to consistently seek the best for our patients. As time reveals cutting-edge technology and novel medical advancements, NPs through their creativity and adaptability must shift when necessary to provide the best for those we are charged to serve.


A healthy future is not one that we can look to others to deliver for us. It can neither be outsourced or assigned, nor wished for. It demands that we NPs work for it daily with as much vim and vigor as can be mustered. We have the strength, intelligence, competence, and most of all, numbers needed to determine who attains and remains in power to pass laws. But this requires advocacy by all of us. If we want to ensure a better healthcare landscape tomorrow, then we must demand better practice environments today. All of us united and in lockstep focused on common goals will yield success.


How do we advocate with power?

First, we all need to operate as lifelong learners. All NPs need to 1) understand their practice authority; 2) be acutely aware of what our communities need; 3) determine how we can meet those needs and fill necessary gaps; and 4) stay educated on the latest and greatest in our profession-from clinical skills and leadership strategies to health policy.


Second, we must get up, get out, and get involved. Nothing can be accomplished with the thinking that everyone around us has got it and will do it. That merely results in everyone looking to everyone else with very few hands doing the heavy lifting. Many hands make light work and those many hands are found within nursing organizations from the local to international levels. Every NP should become a member of at least two nursing organizations, one at the state and the other at the national level.


Finally, and most important, you have a voice. Now is the time to use it loudly and proudly. Don't be afraid to speak up and ruffle a few feathers (respectfully, of course). Decision-makers, lawmakers, and tastemakers all respond to market demands as well as individuals who let their interests and needs be known. NPs, raise your powerful advocacy voice and be heard. Fulfillment of the world's healthcare interests and needs depends on you.

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