Assuming the ancient Mayans were wrong about that whole “end of the world” scenario, 2013 has dawned by the time you’re reading this. And a new year brings a new, unified voice for nurse practitioners: the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). But the leadership of the “new” organization—the result of a merger between the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the American College of Nurse Practitioners (ACNP)—hopes you won’t notice much of a change from its previous incarnations.
“NPs will see a new name, but they’ll see the same people from the two organizations still working very hard to assist them and focus on their practice,” says Angela K. Golden, DNP, FNP-C, FAANP, President of both the old and the new AANP. “Both organizations were member-focused, and that clearly will remain our guiding principle.”
“We are able, essentially, to join forces, combine the talent of both staff and members, and move forward with a renewed purpose toward advancing the cause of NPs,” says David Hebert, who served as CEO of ACNP and will retain that role within the new AANP. “Certainly, the profession will continue to vigorously advocate to practice fully within its scope, and we will continue to be very assertive on that front.”
HERE’S THE DEAL ...
On November 19, 2012, AANP and ACNP announced their plans to consolidate effective January 1, 2013. The new organization has approximately 40,000 members, making it the largest professional membership organization in the United States representing NPs of all specialties.
Golden will serve out the first year of her two-year term as President; then, at AANP’s annual meeting in Las Vegas this June, she will be joined by Co-President Kenneth P. Miller, PhD, RN, CFNP, FAAN, who was the President-Elect of ACNP. The executive committee of the new organization also includes Past President Penny Kaye Jensen, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, FAANP; Treasurer Joyce M. Knestrick, PhD, FNP, FAANP; Recording Secretary Cindy Cooke, MSN, FNP, NP-C, FAANP; and Members at Large Cathy R. Arvidson, PhD, FNP-BC, FAANP, and Cynthia J. Edwards-Tuttle, MSN, FNP, BC.
The boards of both AANP and ACNP obviously had to approve the merger, and a bylaw change was sent to the membership for a vote. Golden says the response from NPs, both members and nonmembers, has been “overwhelmingly positive.” In fact, the move has been applauded by those outside the profession as well.
“I recently had the opportunity to speak at a PA meeting,” Golden reports, “and they were all saying, ‘This is so exciting for NPs.’ So I think lots of organizations recognize the value of having one voice.”
During her term as President of AANP, Jensen was often asked by colleagues, NP students, and other stakeholders, “Why are there two organizations for NPs?”
“There was never a good explanation,” Jensen says. “The merger will provide unity in terms of our messages, goals, strategies, and resources. NPs must speak with a unified voice and encourage our health care system to embrace us fully as highly skilled, educated, and qualified.”
That’s the entire point of the merger: strengthening the voice of NPs on the national stage as well as within each state. The consensus is that this is an exciting moment for NPs, particularly in light of the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing report and the impending implementation of aspects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that will result in an additional 32 million Americans having health insurance and needing access to health care providers. NPs have been working aggressively to improve and align state practice acts and update archaic language in laws that prevent them from practicing to the full extent of their education and training.
“It is more important than ever that NPs are involved in key discussions at both the state and national level,” Jensen says. “Two of the most important places to do this are the insurance exchange and medical home arenas. A presence in each of these venues will be critical to NP involvement in the future of health care in the nation.”
“This is just one more way that we can concentrate on getting ‘all hands on deck,’ getting everybody ready for NPs to come forward and be one of the primary providers of primary care,” says Golden. “There are other NP organizations that we will still, very clearly, collaborate with, but to have one organization representing all NPs shows solidarity.”
WHAT TO EXPECT
A strategic planning session will be held early this year, at which the board of AANP will outline its vision for 2013 and beyond. “At that point,” Hebert says, “we will have a discussion about utilization of resources, the creation of new services to be provided to the membership, and to really set forth what we plan to do for the future.”