National Nurses Week takes place in May but nurse practitioners (NPs) get a whole week to themselves in November. National Nurse Practitioner Week 2020 runs from Nov. 8 – 14. It’s time to honor these extraordinary healthcare providers for all they do for their patients and colleagues. Nurse practitioners go above and beyond traditional nursing requirements to expand their knowledge of their practice. In some states, NPs have the authority to practice medicine on their own without having to rely on a physician. However, these trained providers don’t often get the respect and praise they deserve.
That’s why this week is officially dedicated to NPs all over the country. The celebration also coincides with the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) is spreading the word online to show nurses how they can further their careers at a time when the country is still in the midst of a deadly pandemic.
A Week of Conversation Starters
The AANP has planned a week of topical discussions for Nurse Practitioner Week, including events for NPs and healthcare administrators. The group would like to see more professionals in the industry show their support for NPs, while educating the general public on the important role they have to play. It’s important for people to understand that NPs have substantial training and experience. Daily discussions this week include:
- Monday, November 9 — NPs are working diligently to address social determinants of health and increase access to health care for patients nationwide. Share ways that NPs are uniquely positioned to reduce health care disparities.
- Tuesday, November 10 — Help AANP celebrate the variety of roles NPs hold by sharing where you practice, teach, or lead. What patient population do you serve and in what setting? What inspired you to become an NP and what motivates you to continue partnering with patients to provide high-quality, compassionate health care year-round?
- Wednesday, November 11 — This Veterans Day, we honor all veterans, including NPs and their patients, who are current or previous members of the U.S. uniformed services. It is an honor for NPs to care for our nation’s service members and their families. Join AANP in honoring veterans today.
- Thursday, November 12 — NP Week is the ideal time to celebrate the high-quality health care NPs provide through more than 1 billion patient visits each year. With data-driven insights from 50 years of research studies, it’s clear why millions of Americans choose an NP as their partner in health.
- Friday, November 13 — This year has been filled with challenges, and now we have even more reasons to celebrate the value of NP-delivered care. As 2020: The Year of the Nurse and the Midwife comes to a close, AANP is preparing a compilation of stories from NPs who have worked internationally, delivering health care to patients who need it most. Please take a moment to share your story with AANP.
- Saturday, November 14 — AANP is The Voice of the Nurse Practitioner®, advocating for NPs and their patients wherever important health care decisions are being made. How do you choose to use your NP voice? On social media, please use the #NPWeek and #NPsLead hashtags to share which causes are most important to you and what actions you are taking to effect positive change.
The more you learn about NPs and their unique role in the healthcare industry, the more you can support your colleagues in the workplace. Consider starting a conversation on social media or writing an op-ed for your local newspaper.
You’ll also find a range of promotional materials on the AANP website, including posters supporting NPs and the official 2020 Resource Guide for healthcare administrators and facilities. The guide comes with a sample news release for spreading the word, talking points, an NP fact sheet, community activities, a media interview guide, and guidelines for discussing the issues at hand.
Nurse practitioners have been fighting for their right to practice independently of physicians for years in the U.S. and the group has come a long way.
Looking at the map, NPs have full practice authority in 22 states and the District of Columbia, which means their state license to practice gives them the authority to evaluate patients; diagnose, order and interpret diagnostic tests; and initiate and manage treatments, including prescribing medications and controlled substances. This is the preferred AANP model.
16 states have reduced the authority of NPs in at least one area of their practice. Some states may require NPs to collaborate with another healthcare provider when making treatment decisions. These laws may also limit the setting or one or more elements of the NP practice.
12 states restrict the practice authority of NPs, including California, Texas, Massachusetts, Florida, Michigan, Georgia, and others. NPs may be able to practice on their own on a limited basis, but at least one element of their practice requires additional approval.
As you can see, the U.S. is made up of a patchwork of different NP practice laws. These regulations can be confusing for both patients and providers. In many cases, NPs have the knowledge and training to care for patients on their own, but expanding their practice authority could take patients away from licensed physicians.
However, the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the need for quality healthcare. Expanding NP practice authority would help providers do more work on their own, so they don’t have to coordinate with other providers, which can delay patient care. This would increase access to care across the country, while giving nurses more of an incentive to further their education and start their own practice.
Keep this information in mind as we celebrate NP Week. If you know a nurse practitioner, show them how much you value their expertise.