This week has demonstrated that the political climate in the United States is not fixed in a stationary position but, is dynamic. Many of you will be asking yourselves what does this mean for healthcare reform, the Affordable Care Act, and for nurses and advanced practice nurses (APNs) in the United States. The bottom line is we just don't know. However, one thing we are sure of is, healthcare needs to be reformed and we must be present at the table when options are being discussed.
So, what can you do?
First, you need to understand your scope of practice and if you live in a state with restricted practice, you need to continue to lobby your congressmen and senators about the value nurses and APNs bring to patients and healthcare delivery.
Secondly, be the voice of reason. There are many things about the Affordable Care Act that have improved access to care and quality of care; we must be able to articulate why those things are important and why they need to stay from a cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness perspective.
Thirdly, educate our healthcare colleagues and healthcare consumers about who we are as a profession and why having a nurse and an APN as part of the healthcare team improves quality, patient-centered care.
And finally, remember our history and the great strides we have made as a profession. The profession of nursing is growing and changing based on the needs of those we serve. We are all Americans and our goal is to improve patient care and outcomes regardless of who is in power.
In conclusion; step up, have a voice, be able to articulate the message, and speak from a position of knowing what you do in practice does make a difference.
Anne Dabrow Woods, DNP, RN, CRNP, ANP-BC, AGACNP-BC, FAAN
Health Learning, Research & Practice