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Applications are open for the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) Grants and Scholarships Program, giving eligible nurse practitioners (NPs) and NP students until March 15 to apply for professional funding support. AANP Grants offer up to $5,000 in funding, and AANP Scholarships of $2,500 to $5,000 are also available. Two 2022 recipients — scholarship awardee Nadia Malik Shaboti, MS, BS, BSN, RN, and grant awardee Margaret “Maggie” Harding, MSN, AGPCNP-BC, RNFA, CPAN — spoke with AANP about how the financial support they received enabled them to further develop as professionals and why they would encourage eligible NPs to apply.
Maggie Harding: I was practicing at Duke University as a nurse and decided to go back to NP school, so I enrolled in a master’s program at Duke while working there. I got this job in 2014 [at Duke University] and I’ve been here ever since. My specialty is orthopedic surgery and trauma, so my practice is part operating room, part inpatient and part clinic. It’s a wide variety of practice settings, which is exciting and keeps things interesting.
Nadia Malik Shaboti: My original undergraduate degree was in biology and my graduate degree was in medical informatics. Medical informatics was fairly new at that time, and just out of curiosity, I enrolled in that program and then worked in information technology (IT). I felt like it was a deviation from where my heart was — it wasn’t satisfying working in IT, and I really wanted to work in health care. After being a full-time mom for many years, I started longing for involvement in the field of healthcare, my original passion. It was then that I decided to pursue my goal of becoming an NP. Now, I am excited about starting a new chapter as a medical provider.
Shaboti: Education in this country is very expensive, so any assistance is good assistance. On top of that, I really feel that by applying for the scholarship and joining AANP, doors have opened to all various avenues and benefits. I received the scholarship last year, but as a member I have access to so many resources even now. I can be part of the virtual conferences or I can go in person, there are continuing education (CE) courses, so many podcasts — sometimes I just listen to the podcast [NP Pulse: The Voice of the Nurse Practitioner®] as I’m driving. I would recommend all my peers become a part of AANP.
Harding: I’m pursuing my Ph.D., and this is my dissertation topic. The question arose from my clinical practice, seeing patients day in and day out and really watching what a toll this condition — prosthetic joint infections — takes on patients and their families.
Prosthetic joint infections can occur in a couple of different ways. Oftentimes, it happens fairly close to a patient’s initial joint replacement surgery — within the first month or so — but the risk never goes away. If you have metal in a joint, you have a risk of seeding that joint with bacteria and developing a prosthetic joint infection. Treatment includes at least one surgery and generally six-plus weeks of IV antibiotics. Patients go home with a peripherally inserted central catheter line and need infusion therapy and home health services. The best-case scenario is one surgery and six weeks of antibiotics, but we see patients that have persistent prosthetic joint infections — that have had 20 or even more than 30 surgical treatments and suffer with this condition for the remainder of their lives. I’d like to raise awareness, so these patients receive the type of [clinical and psychological] support we offer to cancer patients.
Harding: The research will be helpful for nurses at all levels. While the patients are being treated for their infection, this research will frame for NPs what the patient is going through and what kind of impact it has on the patient. It will also be helpful for NPs who practice in orthopedics because we see this all the time. Although the risk of getting a prosthetic joint infection is low, it really can have a significant impact on patients beyond the physical component. It may also benefit NPs practicing outside of orthopedics — we all know tons of people in our personal lives who have hip and knee replacements. As our population ages, we’re just going to see more and more hip and knee replacements — and, because of that, more prosthetic joint infections. The outcomes of the research will be applicable across a wide variety of nursing and NP roles.
Harding: This grant has been a huge boon for me in making a research project possible that likely would not have been possible otherwise — or only possible on a much smaller scale. AANP grants really allow NPs to do independent research that has a significant clinical impact. I think it’s important for NPs to do research and projects like this — and in other fields — that are good for the patients and the profession. It’s good for our colleagues in other specialties to see that NPs are leaders in their fields and are interested in furthering research that is going to help their patients.
Shaboti: You never know until you try. Each individual is really unique and has a lot to bring to the table. You should definitely apply and just see what happens. Even if you don’t receive one of the scholarships, it’s wonderful to be a member of this great national organization that can help you throughout your career. It really is a great support.
To best support you in your practice and education, AANP offers a number of research grants and other funding opportunities. Learn more about external funding opportunities and — for qualifying advanced practice nurses (APNs) from outside the U.S. — the AANP International APN Ambassador Program, which provides scholarships to attend the 2023 AANP National Conference on June 20-25 in New Orleans, Louisiana.