I am thankful for advanced practice nurses (APRN) A Nurse Practitioner (NP) is one type of advanced practice nurse and one that probably comes most readily to the mind of the public. Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM), Certified Nurses Anesthetists (CRNA), and Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) are also APRNs and fill similar, but diverse roles. I have been fortunate to have been cared for and mentored by many APRNs throughout my life and career. This November I wanted to share how APRNs have touched my life and express my gratitude.
1.As a young child, my family accessed healthcare through the county public health system. Thanks to public health nurses, and the APRNs that led them, I was vaccinated against diseases and screened for health problems. I grew up healthy despite my parents’ lack of healthcare insurance and money.
2. As a teenager, living in a rural community, my primary healthcare provider was a Nurse Practitioner. She practiced in a small healthcare clinic a few minutes from my house. At that time I was covered by insurance, but she had low rates for self-pay patients. I loved the way that she took time to listen to my teenage complaints and helped me navigate my own health for the first time.
3. Then next time I came across an APRN I was a service member’s wife, struggling to raise a growing family during wartime. A Nurse Practitioner screened me for depression and referred me to a support group. That support group helped me to survive and thrive through each of my husband’s deployments.
4. In nursing school a Nurse Practitioner faculty member candidly shared the practice struggles facing APRNs. She may have thought she was dissuading me from entering the struggle, but she inspired me to eventually join the cause.
5. I learned about the true mission of public health at the side of a CNM. Her job was to make prenatal and postpartum home visits. She taught me how to meet people wherever they are in life. I can still picture her on a dozen different sofas, rattling off nursing advice in both Spanish and English.
6. My leadership preceptor in nursing school was also a CNM. She was the director at a community hospital labor and delivery department. She ran around that unit with a mug of tea she would intermittently reheat, but never finish. She taught me what is meant to be a visible leader.
7. When my career turned from adult medicine to perinatal nursing, I learned how to be fully present and care for a woman in labor thanks to a group of CNMs. They taught me how to seamlessly involve the partner and other present family members. I can’t express how much of the nurse I am today is directly due to the hours I spent in the sacred spaces that those women created for our patients.
8. When I decided to become an APRN, I was mentored by two amazing CNSs and a wonderful NP. The lessons they taught went far beyond how to dictate a note or prescribe a medication. I am truly grateful for their time and advice. I owe them much of my career success. The greatest gift they gave me was belief in my own ability. They drilled in me to not sell myself short, to not settle and to unabashedly pursue my goals as an equal player in the healthcare arena.
9. The darkest year of my life was attended by another APRN. A CNM helped me through back-to-back perinatal losses. She was the first primary care provider to truly listen to my health complaints and she diagnosed me with hypothyroidism. The diagnosis came too late to affect my pregnancy, but she helped me on the road to health, both physically and mentally.
10. I don’t want to leave out CRNAs! I work with brilliant, funny and energetic CRNAs. They are an important part of the perinatal team. I am thankful that when we are running to the same emergency together, I know our patient can be in the OR within minutes receiving lifesaving care from our team.
I would not be the person I am today without APRNs. It’s possible I may not even be here without some of them. APRNs fill an increasingly important role in our healthcare system. Despite the amazing, holistic and safe care that APRNs provide patients, they experience many barriers to practice. Our nation continues to face a crisis in healthcare that could be greatly reduced by allowing all APRNs to practice to their full scope, in every state. Currently APRNs are lobbying for independent practice in many states and nationally. Independent practice is evidence based and a safe policy. We need public support to help pass legislation to allow more APRNs to care for patients. To learn more about the APRN regulations in your state and pending legislation click here. If you are grateful for an APRN, please share your story in the comments.
This post was written as part of the Nurse Blog Carnival. More posts on this topic can be found at http://yourahi.org/blog.
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© 2015, Carrie Sue Halsey. All rights reserved.