Highlights of the 2005 Conference of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners

June 17-21, 2005; Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Mary Jo Goolsby, EdD, MSN, ANP-C, FAANP


September 06, 2005

In This Article

Celebrating the Past, Present, and Future of Nurse Practitioners

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and the 40th anniversary of the nurse practitioner (NP) role. With about 3000 registrants, the 2005 AANP Annual Conference provided an unparalleled opportunity for attendees to celebrate these milestones. In addition to the wide range of clinical education activities, many events were planned to celebrate the past, present, and future of NPs and of AANP.

Individual NPs, NP faculties, and NP groups contributed to the "Recollections and Collections Wall of Fame," a series of posters depicting the 40-year NP and 20-year AANP histories, as well as issues affecting current and future practice. For instance, the faculty of Fort Hays State University Department of Nursing in Hays, Kansas, portrayed their first Annual NP Week Celebration in 2004 and showed how related activities resulted in increased dialogue between students, NPs, legislators, and other healthcare providers.

The United Advanced Practice Registered Nurses in Georgia, the only state where NPs do not have prescriptive authority, described their "Right to Write" campaign activities. The Northeast Ohio NP group described activities promoting NP title recognition, as theirs was the last state to recognize that designation. One of the Alaska NP Association posters described the extensive activities of their public relations and marketing committee in promoting NPs.

A commemorative booklet was provided for all conference participants. It showed the general timeline of the NP movement and the role of the AANP.

A festive "Beach Bash" was held on Friday, and the multimedia "Celebrate 20/40"[1] event was held Sunday afternoon. After serving birthday cake to about 2000 attendees, organizers showed a video history developed for the occasion, interspersed with live presentations and vignettes. The video included interviews with NP notables, including Loretta Ford, EdD, FAAN, and fellows of the AANP, describing the development of the NP role. Dr. Ford explained how the societal environment and shortage of medical providers had opened a door for nurses who were ready to create an expanded role to better serve the needs of their patients and communities. Everyone portrayed early NPs as risk takers.

In addition to her taped interviews, Dr. Ford addressed the crowd in person to open and close the event, acknowledging the importance of professional organizations in promoting policy and political agendas of the profession. She called for members of AANP to go beyond their work environments to seek opportunities for broader change at the local and global levels.

Barbara Safriet, JD, LLM, Associate Dean of Yale School of Law and a long-time NP advocate, also addressed the crowd. She discussed how she had been inspired by NPs' tenacious pursuit of opportunities to provide high quality care. She described a document recently published by the Federation of State Medical Boards, "Assessing Scope of Practice in Healthcare Delivery: Critical Questions in Assuring Public Access and Safety."[2]

The definition of "practice of medicine" in that document encompasses activities performed by members of various disciplines, including NPs, using "shared knowledge" that is not the exclusive domain of any one profession. She described NPs as extenders of nursing practice, not of medicine. Since legislation and regulation follow practice, Ms. Safriet encouraged NPs to continue seeking opportunities to expand legislators' understanding of their practice and positive outcomes.

The illustrated history of AANP began with a 1984 summit where attendees identified the need for an organization to represent NPs of all specialties. AANP founders shared how they examined the feasibility of such an organization through 1985, as volunteers shared in performing vital organizational tasks. Key events in the organization's history included the establishment of several new entities: an annual conference, the AANP Health Policy Office, the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the only national NP database, and affiliated entities such as the AANP Certification Program, AANP Foundation, and Fellows of the AANP.

The occasion also offered attendees the opportunity to hear from NPs in distinctive roles, including family NP (FNP) Kay Wisner, Vice President of Operations for MinuteClinic, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and FNP Tim Flynn, healthcare provider for the Texas State Capitol and the only NP in the United States serving in this type of role. Awards were presented to State NPs and State NP Advocates. Florida State Rep. Yolly Roberson, a true NP advocate and also an RN, emphatically expressed her honor at being recognized as the Florida NP Advocate by NPs, whose work she respects and supports. She encouraged attendees to recognize that the power to effect change is in their hands.

Throughout the conference, session leaders explored issues that are relevant to NP practice. Among these were drug importation, the recommendation for DNP preparation for all advanced practice nurses (APNs), and the importance of NPs being knowledgeable on issues related to genomics, as summarized below.


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