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“Follow Your Must” — A Recap of the 2023 AANP National Conference

Follow Your Must

Relive — or experience for the first time — the world’s biggest gathering of nurse practitioners.

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) 2023 National Conference took place from June 20-25 in New Orleans, Louisiana, and featured hundreds of continuing education (CE) sessions, a booming expo center and a rousing keynote speech delivered by retired NASA astronaut Joan Higginbotham.

The General Opening Session on June 21 began with a hype video featuring many highlights from the last year. After a section celebrating that 27 states now have Full Practice Authority and that nurse practitioners (NPs) were rated the best health care job by U.S. News & World Report, Loretta C. Ford, EdD, RN, PNP, NP-C, CRNP, FAAN, FAANP, herself appeared onscreen to usher in the conference. “You know, Florence Nightingale said: ‘Follow your must.’ And your must is your dream. So, I’m saying to you — follow your must!”

Presidential Addresses

An AANP past president and New Orleans resident Sophia L. Thomas, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, PPCNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP, welcomed attendees to the conference with a few fun facts about the Big Easy and reiterated the theme of this year’s conference: “Restoring, Recharging and Renewing the NP Community.”

President April Kapu, DNP, APRN, ACNP- BC, FAANP, FCCM, FAAN, was introduced and spoke about her experience leading AANP for two years, beginning a journey that ended on Saturday afternoon with the ceremonial passing of the gavel to current AANP president Stephen A. Ferrara, DNP, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN. Kapu spoke about her many adventures and accomplishments as AANP President, including the demanding— but ultimately successful — responsibility of leading the organization during the COVID-19 crisis. While the pandemic raged across the world, Kapu inspired confidence by speaking with the media to recognize and explain the important and lifesaving work NPs were doing in their communities.

Conference Highlights

Attendees at the 2023 AANP National Conference chose from more than 330 sessions and workshops to earn CE and enrich their clinical practice. Expert presenters spoke to NPs about topics like burnout, grief and allergic reactions, while workshops gave NPs an opportunity to practice and perfect skills, including injection techniques and suturing.

NPs speaking to AANP in an official capacity in interviews — or just casually chatting on the convention floor — brought up again and again the excellent opportunities for networking. The importance and excitement of meeting or reconnecting with colleagues from across the country held a special importance for attendees, a tradition that will continue at next year’s 2024 AANP National Conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

Final Thoughts

The conference concluded this year with AANP’S 2023 Annual Membership Meeting. Open to all conference attendees, this meeting was an opportunity to highlight and recognize the work of the previous year’s board of directors, learn more about the advantages of AANP membership and hear the state of AANP’s finances.

New AANP President Ferrara announced that, in addition to the 28 AANP Communities now serving as online discussion hubs, AANP will be adding even more communities to the fold this fall. Ferrara also celebrated the 63 AANP Fellows inducted this year and formally announced the debut of the AANP Student Education and Training (SET) program. AANP SET offers AANP NP Student Members free, on-demand resources to support their success and to enhance their diversity, equity and inclusion, clinical and professional competencies.

Ferrara concluded the meeting with a video created specifically for the conference — a retrospective of the career and influence of Ford. Beginning with Ford’s birth in 1920, the presentation followed Ford as she became a nurse, served in the U.S. Army Air Force and — as AANP members well know — co-founded the NP role with Henry Silver, MD. In addition to documents of Ford, including photos and video, NPs of all ages gave testimonies to the legacy of Ford and how her persistence, humor and boldness influence their outlook today.

Come to Conferences!

If you were unable to attend the 2023 AANP National Conference in person, you may still take advantage of the online, on-demand portion from June 28-Aug. 3.

Register Now

National conference is hardly the only opportunity to work alongside NPs to advocate for the NP role. NPs specifically interested in health policy won’t want to miss the 2024 AANP Health Policy Conference on Jan. 28-30 in Washington, D.C. Finally, the 2023 AANP Fall Conference takes place on Sep. 7-10 in Austin, Texas, and features up to 18 contact hours of CE.

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