About One DNP

I earned my "terminal practice" degree in nursing from the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in a journey of excitement and challenge. It inspired me to advocate for an all encompassing clinical credential rather than continuing the hodgepodge of nonsensical initials. I hope these entries will provide entertainment and insight into the Doctor of Nursing Practice experience, which will soon be the entry standard for all advanced practice nurses.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Associations That Care About You, Not Your Lawn

Yep, I live in a traditional town neighborhood. I love the throwback architecture and planning, that I can walk to my clinic, do not need to worry about driving if I have a few cocktails at one of the restaurants, and can get all kinds of unique gifts from small business owners without having to fight traffic at the mall. And yep, I pay a higher dollar per square foot for my house and business properties and owe yearly and monthly association dues for the privilege of living in a southeast replica of The Truman Show.  Every once in a while, someone gets complaining about dog messes, unapproved plants, fences painted the wrong color, or some other inane issue that makes the front office puff up their chest and point fingers with threats of "or else." When this happens, my husband starts pulling up the real estate section and yearning for a couple acres of property away from people and their meddling rules. Make that Federation Rules, if we happen to be on a Star Trek kick.

So the point of this mini rant is the question, "what do nursing associations really do for me?" 

As an RN student, I did not see the point of membership in professional nurse associations, largely because it was never emphasized in my leadership class. With loans coming due and taking on a new mortgage payment, spending money on membership was not a priority. Shortly after getting my license, however, I did become a member of the American Holistic Nurses Association as it fit with both my new nursing role and practice as an acupuncture and Oriental medicine provider. I also joined Sigma Theta Tau when I was nominated both from my undergraduate and doctoral programs. Other than a free journal and random emails, I was too busy getting my nurse legs to really look at the whats and whys of these organizations or to get involved in any way.

When I started my FNP training, one of the first things we discussed was the importance of joining state and national associations and what they do for us. Advocacy for NPs to practice autonomously to their full scope of training is one of the main activities. Live and distance continuing education applicable to practice is another important aspect, and membership typically provides substantial discounts. On-line member forums to collaborate on practice and legislative issues, find mentors, and cultivate relationships that often start from live networking at conferences is one of my favorite benefits. There are also some discounts or freebies on re/certification, related memberships, journal subscriptions, and other tangible goodies.

Despite these incentives, if I were to join every association that represented my professional interests, I would have to give up a lot of my discretionary time and funds.  Here is a sampling of just some of the key ones in nursing:

American Nurses Association ($291 /yr with mandatory state membership in KY)
Kentucky Coalition of Nurse Practitioners and Midwives ($95/year)
National League for Nursing ($115/yr),
American Holistic Nurses Association ($125/year)
International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses ($125/yr)
Nurse Organization of Veterans Affairs ($105/yr)
Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing ($104.50 and $109.50/yr for both chapters)

While I have been or would like to be a current member of these organizations, like all good nurses, I have to prioritize. My basis for choosing an association is related to my current role and what I feel I can contribute the most time toward as an active member. I am continually a member of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association  ($125/yr) because they represent all psych/mental health nurses, not just NPs. The conferences are well organized and clinically relevant, the member bridge is functional and informative, they really try to involve all members in task forces and outreach representations, and they fund the state organizations to promote involvement at the local level without additional dues.  The mission of APNA is educational, rather than political,  so the dues are 100% tax deductible. They use social media effectively to promote the profession and increase care quality while reducing stigma of the population we work with. Plus, its an evidenced-based fact that psych nurses have more fun, which is why I have not missed a conference since joining!

I recently decided it was time to join the newly merged and powerful American Association of Nurse Practitioners ($125/yr). Now that the two main NP organizations have agreed to speak with one voice, there will be a stronger, more cohesive representation our collective interests. The AANP is another organization active on social media, they have direct legislative involvement so some of the membership dues fund the push for independent practice, they run a daily RSS feed to keep members current on activities applying to all practice aspects, and they represent all APRNs so those of us who may be loosing a skill here and there can catch-up or acquire new competencies at the annual conference.

Did I mention the AANP decided to have their annual conference for 2013 in Las Vegas? That's right. Vegas, baby.  The Venetian better be ready for OUR action!

For those of you going, make sure you live-Tweet using #AANP13 - lets get it trending!

Nurses are the most populous of health providers, yet we have one of the weakest voices and are underrepresented throughout the LPN, RN, and APRN practice levels. Most of us want higher pay or reimbursement, more respect, and the ability to practice to the full scope of our training. Increasing the number of active member nurses from all educational levels is essential for strengthening our position at the legislative table and owning our profession to accomplish these goals.

Join and be active!

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