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Meet Your Leaders—Part 2: AANP

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Editor’s Note: Part 1, featuring American Academy of Physician Assistants President Patrick Killeen, MS, PA-C, appeared in the July issue.

Penny Kaye ­Jensen, DNP, APRN, FNP, FAANP, has a wealth of experience at the state and national levels. She has practiced at the VA Medical Center in Salt Lake City for 16 years, was in the first cohort of DNP students at the University of Utah, and was one of seven NPs to staff a medical clinic during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, held in Salt Lake City.

On the national front, she was recently appointed to the Joint Commission Ambulatory Professional and Technical Advisory Committee (2010-2012) and to the Veterans Affairs’ Office of Academic Affiliations Primary Care Medical Home Academic Subcommittee (2010-2012). She also became President of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), for which she had previously served as a state and a regional director.

Despite an undoubtedly jam-packed schedule, Jensen answered a few probing questions for Clinician Reviews.

CR: What have you learned during your tenure as President-Elect that will shape or inform your presidency?

Jensen: I have been an integral part of AANP’s leadership for the past year, witnessing the tremendous amount of work that goes on behind the scenes. I have had the opportunity to be President-Elect at one of the most exciting times in the organization’s history. I call it the “perfect storm.” Health care reform has been at the forefront, which has resulted in increased visibility for NPs. [My predecessor as President] Dee Swanson was featured on Fox News, with an estimated two million viewers tuning in to hear about NPs and our role in health care reform.

I have received invitations to present to various nursing and medical organizations and was able to participate in a Senate briefing focusing on health care reform. AANP was invited to President Obama’s press conference on health care reform in March 2010, and I was able to attend and shake hands with our president.

I also have had the opportunity to attend many national and regional meetings throughout the United States, and to give interviews and craft position statements regarding NP practice and our contributions to health care.

I have had the best mentor in the world; Dee Swanson has been remarkable and will be a tough act to follow.

CR: Personally, which initiatives are you most excited about working on during your time in office? What are your own goals for your presidency?

Jensen: It is my goal to continue to increase the public awareness of NP practice and to advocate for the profession. There are major misconceptions by the public, legislators, media, and even other health care providers regarding NP practice. These issues should be addressed through consistent and accurate messaging. NPs need to continue to speak with a unified voice.

There is strength in numbers, and AANP’s membership continues to increase. We are building coalitions with other NP organizations and other health care providers and stakeholders. It is my hope that these coalitions will continue to grow and strengthen under my leadership.

I will continue to advocate for licensed independent practice for NPs in each of our states. Many states have been able to accomplish this by developing alliances with other regions within our country. It is important to promote consistent access to quality advanced practice nursing care within states and across state lines. This is critical for the advancement of our profession and would increase access to qualified NPs.

The issue of increasing membership is integral to AANP’s effort to influence national policy; better laws would mean more NPs in the US and better access to quality care. Each year, US nursing schools prepare 7,000 to 8,000 NPs but must turn away approximately 6,000 qualified applicants due to faculty shortages and lack of funding.

Improved funding for nursing faculty, loan repayment programs, and nurse-managed centers, and the initiation of graduate nursing education funding, if passed, would increase the number of highly qualified NPs available to provide care and to educate future NPs.

CR: What impact do you foresee health care reform having on your profession? How might NP practice change as a result of these changes?

Jensen: Because health care is at the top of the national agenda, as well as on the minds of most Americans, it is in the best interest of consumers that they receive all the facts available about health care professionals so that they can make intelligent and informed decisions when selecting the provider of their care.

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