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Carla Kirkland, MSN, ACNP-BC, FNP-BC, ENP-BC

Candidate for Tennessee State Liaison

Carla Kirkland

Campaign Message:

I would appreciate your vote for Carla Kirkland for AANP Tennessee State Liaison. I am passionate about achieving the goal of Full Practice Authority for our Tennessee Nurse Practitioners. As past president of Tennessee Nurses Association I have already been advocating in the Tennessee legislature for several years, and have worked to educate other elected officials, nurses, students, and communities on how updating antiquated legislatively mandated laws would enable NPs to more effectively work to improve healthcare disparities and outcomes in our state. I saw a shift among legislators this past legislative session, as more were willing to embrace the idea of removing restrictive barriers. There is still much work to do, and I am up for the challenge! I would love to continue to advocate for our patients and their improved access to high quality, affordable, community based health care through the expertise of Nurse Practitioners.

Biographical Statement
Campaign Flyer
Curriculum Vitae

Current Professional Position

Nurse Practitioner, Saint Francis Memphis Emergency Department

Leadership Experience in the Past Three Years

Experiences the past 3 years:

  1. President, Tennessee Nurses Association
  2. Immediate Past President, Tennessee Nurses Association
  3. President, Tennessee Nurses Association District 1
  4. RN Representative Shelby County, Tennessee, Board of Health
  5. Greater Memphis Area Advanced Practice Nurses Representative to Coalition for Access to Care in Tennessee
  6. American Nurses Association Membership Assembly Representative

Future leadership plans:

  1. AANP State Liaison, if elected
  2. ANA Membership Assembly Representative
  3. Continue with Shelby County Board of Health
  4. TNA District 1 Immediate Past President

Biggest Challenge Facing Nurse Practitioners and How AANP Can Help

The biggest challenge facing NPs in the delivery of health care over the next decade is whether we are allowed to practice to the full extent of our education and training. As Tennessee continues to be a restricted state as far as scope of practice, our patients will continue to struggle with access to safe, local, quality providers. Tennessee is near the bottom of national lists as far as health outcomes. Health care inequities continue to be prevalent. Community hospitals have closed across the state. Tennessee legislators persist in denying that Medicaid expansion is needed and would improve health outcomes. As an NP in an Emergency Department in a metropolitan area, I daily treat patients who are challenged in being seen for primary or acute care in local clinics. Many are uninsured. NPs can only improve these health care challenges by providing greater access to care, and providing continuity of care for primary care issues and referrals for specialty care in a timely manner. AANP already does an excellent job addressing the access to care issue and providing support to the states.

Example of Initiative or Outcome of Leadership

As past President of TNA District 1 (Memphis area) and state President of TNA, I have advocated for nurses and Nurse Practitioners around the state. I have met locally and at the state level frequently with elected officials, always working to improve the image of nursing in our state, and advocating for improved health care for all of our citizens, primarily by removing antiquated legislatively mandated laws which restrict the practice of NPs. I have helped sponsor candidate forums and "Meet & Greet" events to build those always important relationships with elected leaders. One outcome of one of those relationships was that I was invited to be nominated by our Shelby County mayor (previously a state senator) to be the nurse representative on the Shelby County Board of Health. Another outcome of meeting with state legislators on a regular basis regarding FPA was last Winter, while meeting with one of our state senators regarding our upcoming FPA bill. We were pleasantly surprised when he announced he had been against our bill in the past, but after seeing what NPs had done for his rural community over the past two years during COVID, he can now support the bill.

If Elected, I Propose to Advance the AANP Mission as Follows

Through my previous leadership with Tennessee Nurses Association I have already begun the work of the AANP mission and strategic plan. I would just be continuing my advocacy under a different "hat". I have already been working to identify and reduce barriers and increase access to NP provided care through building relationships with elected officials. At a recent conference I gave a presentation on "Advocacy Outside the Legislature", educating nurses on ways I have learned to take advantage of impromptu opportunities for advocacy, have casual meetings with legislators outside of legislative plaza, and partner with grassroots organizations to increase the public visibility of nurses and educate citizens regarding the importance of nurses and NPs in our communities. I also discussed the importance of nurses on boards, and how nurses can seek opportunities on various boards, commissions, and task forces to improve our presence and input. I frequently speak with student groups and would work to increase AANPs student engagement and it's membership base. I will want to increase communication with AANPs Tennessee members, with education and encouragement on how to unite our voices to achieve passage of FPA in our state.