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When it comes to positively impacting the lives of patients, nurse practitioners (NPs) will go above and beyond to provide high-quality care for the communities they serve. While advocacy on behalf of patients will always be important, legislative advocacy at the federal and state level arguably has the greatest potential to impact NP-delivered health care.
The American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) recognizes the need for NPs to be in the room with lawmakers and legislative staff when health care policy conversations take place. To that end, all NPs — both experienced advocates and novices in the policy arena — are encouraged to attend the 2024 AANP Health Policy Conference, Jan. 24-28 in Washington, D.C.
Health policy conference (HPC) attendees develop advocacy skills, network with other NPs interested in policy and earn approximately 16.5 contact hours of continuing education credit (pending approval by AANP). Hear testimonials from attendees at last year’s HPC explaining why this conference has been transformational in how they view their role in policy making.
NPs are not only health care providers — they are also champions for their patients’ health care needs — and have been for nearly 60 years. This conference provides an opportunity to hone those advocacy skills by channeling that passion into positive policy. With this in mind, HPC first empowers NPs with the knowledge they need to understand the current legislative landscape, and then gives them the confidence to advocate directly for policies that can impact their practice and patients alike.
Janet Selway, DNSc, AGNP-C, CPNP-PC, FAANP, FAAN, attended the 2023 HPC and spoke about how she initially felt a “fear” about speaking with legislators on health policy issues. “When you come to the HPC, not only do you learn about the political process, you get to talk to legislators and legislative aides to maybe overcome that fear — and realize that we really are experts in being advocates for patients,” Selway said. “Coming here, you learn the issues from people who are policy experts, you learn not to be afraid to walk into Capitol Hill and go into a legislator’s office. You realize they’re just people like everybody else, but they often have the power to implement the change. We need to know how to speak to them, and we need to understand the issues that impact health care.”
On the inaugural day of the HPC, first-time attendees will be informed about the innerworkings of Congress in a session entitled “What You Need to Know About Capitol Hill.” On the second day of the conference, attendees will be given a “Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Regulatory Update,” an “AANP Government Affairs Update” from AANP’s Vice President of Federal Government Affairs and the Vice President of State Government Affairs and a conference keynote. Finally, HPC concludes with attendees meeting with legislators and staff for Capitol Hill Day on Jan. 30.
When Kimia Robinson attended her first HPC, she was a part-time graduate student working to become an NP. Already aware of the important role policy decisions will have on her future career, she shared why she decided to register for the conference. “For me as a student, I became more interested in policy because I understand how it interacts with practice…I think being here is going to help me substantially, because now I have a better understanding of all that is behind my role and all that is related to it. And it’s good to be in places like this where you can meet other people — you can learn about policy and equity and all the important things that will make you a strong provider in the future.”
HPC offers structured networking time for attendees, giving you a fixed opportunity to find other NPs who are focused on ways to make our nation’s health care system better for patients and providers. When asked what is most important to her about attending an AANP conference like HPC, Karen Ketner, DNP, FNP-C, FAANP, said that for her, “it’s the networking. Yes, you’re going to get an amazing education, but for me it’s the networking. I think it’s really important for our well-being to see each other. If there’s anything I learned in the pandemic, it’s that we are social beings and we need to be together and see each other.”
Alyssa Angel, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, WHNP-BC, echoed this sentiment when she expressed that AANP conferences were “life-changing. It is definitely life-changing. You’re going to meet people, you’re going to network, you’re going to make lifetime friends […] you’re also going to learn the updates of what is going in with the NP profession.”
AANP members and AANP student members save on registration for the 2024 AANP Health Policy Conference, and an AANP housing block at the Grant Hyatt Washington has rooms available at a special conference rate (but must be reserved by Friday, Jan. 5, 2024). The 2024 Health Policy Conference Planning Committee is still finalizing the conference agenda — follow AANP on social media for updates.