New Year Resolutions

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Happy New Year! This morning, I completed a 10K. I am a runner and always start the New Year with a race. There is something about a group of people set on the same goal that encourages the best in everyone. Although I race throughout the year, this first race of the year sets the tone for the rest of my year and makes me feel that I have been part of something amazing from day one. This year, the race I ran was the “Resolution Race” with the proceeds benefitting local charities. Running on the first day of the year also gives me time to think about my other resolutions for the New Year.

Fundamentally, a resolution is an expression of the will, resolve, or determination of an individual or legislative body. As we start this New Year, my professional resolve is to continue advocating for full practice authority in the Commonwealth.

Currently, only 21 states plus D.C. allow NPs to practice to the full extent of their education and training. Some of the barriers to full practice in states like mine are regulations requiring a physician to be the leader of a patient care team, joint boards of nursing and medicine, required collaborating agreement with a physician, and lack of legislative advocacy by all nurses to ensure we retain control over our professions.

We should all be familiar by now with the numerous studies documenting the safety, cost-effective care, equal or improved patient outcomes, and patient satisfaction when a nurse practitioner rather than a physician provides care. This is not meant to endorse an opposition to physicians, but rather to highlight that nursing is a separate profession from medicine.

As part of the nursing profession, we are also the most trusted profession in the United States! With all of this supporting evidence, how do we justify allowing others to control our profession? I firmly believe that teaching advocacy needs to start with the first nursing courses.

As nurses, we are excellent patient advocates. As NPs, we need to be knowledgeable, confident, and passionate advocates for our profession. This means being able to articulate what an NP does, be knowledgeable about the scope of practice of the NP and be able to utilize various tools to communicate effectively with the public and elected officials. My second professional resolution this year is to work on improving education of nursing students at all levels in health policy advocacy.

Just as curricula are changing to reflect the increasing numbers of community based nurses rather than acute care, curricula need to include health policy advocacy. This will ensure our newest nursing graduates at all levels have a basic understanding of health policy and understand the importance of advocating for full practice authority legislation that reflects our scope of practice and the full extent of our education and training.

I hope part of your New Year’s resolution includes taking a more active role in your profession. Together, we can all improve healthcare by harnessing the power of all nurses to advocate. I challenge you to become more active in advocacy efforts in your workplace, community, state and at the national level. Be Well!

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About Author

Rebecca Bates, DNP
Rebecca Bates, DNP

Rebecca Bates, who has been a nurse since 2000, is passionate about providing healthcare for vulnerable populations. She earned her DNP at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Va., and has been a family nurse practitioner in primary care since 2009. Her DNP research explored NP assessment of adolescent psychosocial risk factors. During her doctoral program, she completed a health policy fellowship and remains active in state and federal health policy advocacy. She has also engaged in global health advocacy and medical missions. She recently left private practice and currently works at a Free Clinic where she continues to precept NP students. She is an assistant professor for graduate and undergraduate nursing students. Rebecca believes nurses must have a seat at the table to improve the health of individuals and communities throughout the world.

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