Written by Amanda Rumpke, MSN, APRN-CNP
The University of Cincinnati’s College of Nursing slogan reads: “UC nurses. We see Leaders.” How apt? From the beginning of our training until the end of our careers, nurses master the art of understanding needs and ensuring those needs are addressed. Plain and simply put, we show up for our patients in big ways and small ways everyday in every county in Ohio and across the nation.
As the largest healthcare profession in the US, nurses are no strangers to the leadership role. Accrediting organizations like CMS and The Joint Commission have long recognized our impact by creating standards that ensure nurses share in the oversight of healthcare delivery. Our leadership capabilities are not lost on other institutions either.
The higher education afforded to us as advanced practice nurses helps us better understand the health disparities and injustices of our current healthcare delivery model. While advanced practice nurses are highly trained and trusted patient advocates, and are better equipped than many to help create healthcare solutions for those that need us most, many find standing up for their clinical role a daunting prospect at best.
The misinformation and scare tactics of some other organized groups in the medical community attempt to thwart local and national efforts to expand needed patient access to APRN-led care, often requiring APRNs to spend their time and resources defending their training as well as their place in healthcare rather than focusing those efforts on the patients they are meant to serve. Florence Nightingale herself said: “How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.”
To that end, how can we as advanced practice nurses harness our leadership power to ensure that patient needs come before politics? While nurses that share a collective voice can be powerful indeed, the answer to that question begins first with the individual considering it. Contemplate the steps you would need to take on your leadership journey that would position you and your APRN colleagues to better meet patient needs.
How might you make a difference, even in your day-to- day practice?
- Become a member of your state and national APRN organization
- Take a leadership class and determine your professional goals and priorities
- Talk with your patients about what it means to be an APRN and how your role was created to help them
- Educate other clinical disciplines on the role, the training, and the scope of practice for APRNs
- Volunteer your time at a free clinic
- Introduce yourself to your organization’s leaders and ask what questions they have or how you might help them support excellent care delivery
- Consider what you might do within your clinical practice to improve outcomes and overall care quality
- Partner with organizational clinical and operations leaders to determine how to maximize patient access to care, leveraging each clinical discipline to the top of their licensure and training
- Reach out to your Ohio Representative or Senator to advocate for the advancement of APRN practice in your state
- Donate to organizations that support nurses such as the OAAPN PAC
Certainly, this is not an all-inclusive list but offers ideas for individuals considering the prospect of evolving their leadership ability. If any of these leadership opportunities seem intimidating, OAAPN can help!
Please visit oaapn.org for details regarding everything OAAPN is doing to support your APRN practice, leadership, growth, and advocacy efforts. Together we can do great things with strength in our numbers; authority in our voice; and influence in our action!