Nurse practitioners (NPs) are buzzing with excitement over the first American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) in-person conference since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Clinical Advisor spoke with AANP President April N. Kapu, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, FAANP, FCCM, FAAN, about her favorite presentations from the 350 educational sessions at AANP 2022, a program offering mental health services for NPs, and legislative issues NPs are talking about at the conference.

“We are very cognizant of the fact that the past 2 and a half years have been very demanding on NPs, as well as all health care providers,” Dr Kapu said. One key highlight from the conference is the launch of the NPower program “which is where our NP members can receive immediately accessible mental health services, which is huge.” The NPower program also offers an array of resources for social, financial, occupational, environmental, intellectual, physical, and spiritual wellbeing.

Additionally, “we’re celebrating the fact that we are the most in-demand health care profession, according to the US News and World Report. The profession has grown to more than 355,000 NPs in the US in 2022. Over a billion visits to nurse practitioners were made last year. Furthermore, the number of states that have granted NPs full practice authority has reached a tipping point at 26 states plus the District of Columbia, with New York and Kansas contributing to those wins in recent months.

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A Quick Look at Sessions

Dr Kapu has a list of presentations she is eager to attend, among them is the session Optimizing Clinician Wellness: Evidence-Based Strategies That Work! by Kate Gawlik, DNP, APRN-CNP, FAANP, FNAP; Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk, PhD, APRN-CNP, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN; and Alice M. Teall, DNP, APRN-CNP, NC-BC, FAAN. The presenters will discuss “what we can do as a health care system, as an organization, and certainly as clinicians to improve our infrastructures within our different work environments, so that we have an optimal environment for health and wellness,” Dr Kapu said.

She is also looking forward to a session led by the AANP’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee during which presenters will discuss what the AANP is doing to promote diversity, health, equity, and inclusivity in the organization as well as in the overall health care field. The session is titled Race or Racism? Tools, Inequity & Outcomes and the speakers include Letha M. Joseph, DNP, AGPCNP-BC, FFNMRCSI; Sheldon D. Fields, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, AACRN, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN; and Germina Emily R. Rio, DNSc, CPH, APRN, GNP, BC, FCN. Sandra Davis, PhD, DPM, ACNP-BC, FAANP, is moderating the session.  

Dr Kapu is also presenting a session titled NP Value: Know Your Why and Know Your Worth in which she will highlight strategies for identifying the impact of the NP role and the value that NPs bring to health care and in improving patient care outcomes. “Nurse practitioners need to know their value,” Dr Kapu said. She and copresenter Jennifer Rodgers, CNO, will discuss different scenarios to help NPs highlight the value that they bring to patient care.

How Is Morale?

“Going through the conference hall right now, everybody just seems to be just on,” Dr Kapu said. “They’re eager to get back and go to education sessions and enjoy an opportunity to grow professionally. They’re talking, they’re networking. We are seeing that bonding.”

“We have been waiting for this for so long, and now we’re finally here and we’re enjoying being with one another and all the support that’s surrounding us,” Dr Kapu said.

What Issues Are NPs Discussing at the AANP Conference?

Mental health is on the top of everyone’s mind,” Dr Kapu said. In the conference hallways, NPs are talking about their own experiences as well as their concern for their teams, she said. “There is a need for change in terms of workforce development, workforce support programs for health and well-being, and supporting those systems and organizations that have healthy work environments for NPs,” she noted.

The second hot topic is the positive outcomes already being felt in states that have granted full practice authority to NPs. These states are seeing increases in workforce, more NPs working in rural and underserved areas, and reductions in health care disparities, she said.   

AANP Focuses on Research and Education

In addition to advocating for full and direct access to NP care, increased research and education among NPs are key goals at the AANP. “We want to continue to research and develop evidence of the effects of NP care in terms of patient outcomes.” Another current research priority at the AANP is to examine evidence on effective treatments for long-COVID symptoms.

The AANP also is focused on developing and creating opportunities for NPs to lead as clinicians and educators as well as in nontraditional roles such as chief executive officers and chief nursing officers. “We want to provide those leadership development opportunities,” Dr Kapu said.

Award Recipients

The AANP national leadership award recipients for 2022 were announced at the conference. Elizabeth McDaniel, MBA, MSN, FNP-C, was presented the Towers Pinnacle Award for her strength and leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic when she implemented innovative ways to ensure patients could access quality health care and by combating clinician burnout. McDaniel has been instrumental in developing opportunities to advance the NP role through practice, education, advocacy, and leadership. She has worked to lift barriers at local, state, and national levels.

Susan Kendig, JD, WHNP-BC, FAANP, will receive the Sharp Cutting Edge Award. Kendig was the first director of policy for the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health and has been a leading voice among women’s health NPs. Kendig has advanced preventive and maternal health and has frequently been the only NP serving on national, interdisciplinary health policy task forces, and coalitions. 

The 2022 AANP National Conference is being held June 21 to June 26, 2022, in Orlando, Florida, and sessions will be available on-demand as well.

Visit Clinical Advisor’s meetings section for complete coverage of AANP 2022.