Labor Day seems like an appropriate time to take stock of the current state of where we are as a profession. During the last few years, we have made great strides. Nurse practitioners have full practice authority in almost half the states in the US. Not too shabby. A lot of hard work has gone into bringing us this far—hard work on all levels. I say this all the time: If you don’t belong, you should. There is strength in numbers. The national organizations guide us and provide support; they bring attention to our achievements on a macro level. Join one or join many. It’s all good.
And don’t forget about your state organizations. State and local organizations do the heavy lifting of organizing and lobbying. Bills need grassroots support at the legislature to pass, and this is where state organizations shine. If you want to put your dues to work close to home on issues that affect your practice, then you have to begin at the state level. Yes, even if your state has full practice authority, there is still work to be done. Don’t let your membership expire just because you don’t have any of the big “flashy” issues on the table. Monitoring for new bills that threaten NP autonomy requires constant vigilance. You should never underestimate the chance that new bills will be introduced specifying that only physicians may perform a specific service in a sly attempt as an ends to run around NP full practice authority. There are also countless existing statutes that do not include NPs, which need to be amended.
Yes. There is much work to do at the state level. Join one or join many.
Changing the culture is a tougher issue. In my home state of Minnesota, we have almost 2 years of full practice authority under our belt, yet we hear many organizations have been slow to adapt to the new law. A survey conducted about 9 months after passage of full practice authority revealed that almost all NPs were still being asked to sign a collaborative agreement despite the fact it is no longer required by law. Many employers also will not accept an NP signature on certain forms—or perhaps I should say they CHOOSE not to accept an NP signature. These are concerns we can’t legislate. An employer can always be more restrictive than the law. Changing attitudes is going to take some time and some organization.
Your local organization can help to set a tone of full practice authority acceptance. An organization can educate an employer in ways that an individual cannot. An organization of many individuals has much more leverage than a single person.
Join one organization or join many. On a local level, the yearly dues for most organizations cost less than a dinner at a nice restaurant. Nationally, it’s the equivalent of a really nice dinner. We make decent money. Celebrate Labor Day by joining. If you are already a member, renew and/or join a second or third organization.