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National Nurse Practitioner Week is a chance for nurse practitioners (NPs) to come together and celebrate their profession's achievements. It's also an opportunity to raise awareness about the critical role NPs play in health care.
NP Week takes place on Nov. 12-18 this year and is the perfect time for NPs to tell their personal story about how they became an NP and what drives them each day to deliver incredible care for their patients. Hear some of their stories below to gain both insight and inspiration from their experiences.
Christie Holder, FNP, works in Lubbock, TX. Her route into nursing began — like many NPs — by watching the care and comfort nurses offered to patients when they are most in need. “When my grandfather got ill, I was in high school and I’d watch my aunt, who was a registered nurse, care for him along with other nurses,” she told the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP). “He had terminal lung cancer.”
Watching her aunt inspired Holder, and she discovered she wanted even more out of the nursing profession — which led her to pursue the NP role. “I knew I wanted to do nursing […] But after witnessing that and seeing the limits, I wanted more. I wanted to offer more, I wanted to provide more, I wanted to give more.”
Individuals also become NPs simply to make a positive difference in the lives of patients. Jemer Jurado, FNP-BC, from Northville, MI, put it succinctly: “What inspired me to be an NP is I want to help people onto a path of better health.”
How do NPs envision their working relationship with their patients? Elena Prendergast, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, ACHPN, says: “It’s almost like I am a professional friend. I’m a professional advocate. I hope to be the person that someone feels can sit right next to them and have coffee and talk to them about what’s going on in their lives — whether it’s their family problems, whether it’s their community problems — and they feel that I truly am vested in them.”
Joy Uduehi, PMHNP, is an NP who also values the personal, conversational relationship NPs have with patients. “I always like to establish a relationship with my patient so they can tell me what is truly going on,” she says.
The theme of this year’s NP Week is “Recognizing Heroes in Health Care.” Health care has so many components, from preventative to emergency care — all of which NPs provide to patients. NPs who speak with AANP often discuss how they work to create incremental, important lifestyle changes which can make a huge difference and improve patients’ lives.
One example is in the treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD). Laura Leahy, DrNP, APRN, PMH-CNS/FNP, CARN-AP, FAANP, FAAN, speaks about meeting her patients where they are to have an honest discussion about AUD and to begin treatment for this disease that effects 29.5 million people in the U.S. “Take those extra few minutes, look over that screening, and then go into the room and talk to the patient,” she says. “Identifying AUD and getting that diagnosis is going to start the road to treatment for the patient.”
NPs can also work with patients to make small changes in their daily routines to increase positive health care outcomes. AANP Obesity Community Co-chair Rebecca J. Graves, Ph.D., NP-C, encourages patients to find opportunities for exercise in their daily lives. “Find something you enjoy,” Graves tells her patients. “You’re not going to do something you don’t enjoy for long, and this is not a temporary thing to get to a certain point — this is a lifestyle change that will serve you for the rest of your life and hopefully give you a happier, healthier, longer life.”
NP Week is the perfect time to educate the public and policy makers on what NPs do. AANP has created valuable information like the NP Week resource guide and works to share stories from NPs directly about how they are serving their communities by offering person-centric, holistic health care.
The NP Week resource guide features NP Week activities, facts and a focus on social media to help NPs and patients make the most of this special, exciting week. Suggestions for local activities, assistance in helping your state issue an NP Week proclamation and plenty of sharable and useful videos, factoids and more are featured in the resource.
If you’re interested in even more NP Week festivities, tune into NP Pulse: The Voice of the Nurse Practitioner® all week for daily mini-episodes and more stories from the many NPs who took the time to speak with their NP organization at an AANP conference.
Finally, please consider sharing your NP story, especially this NP Week. Your patients, colleagues and family know the important work you do every day — help AANP share your story with an even wider audience today!