On June 25, 2023, Stephen A. Ferrara, DNP, was installed as the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) new president. Dr Ferrara succeeds April N. Kapu, DNP, who had served with distinction as AANP President since 2021.

“I am proud to represent the voices of more than 355,000 licensed NPs nationwide and the lifesaving care we deliver in countless patient visits each year,” said Dr Ferrara at the annual meeting held in New Orleans. “As nurse practitioners, we play a vital role in health care delivery, and I am committed to fostering professional growth, advocating for our interests and promoting our invaluable contributions to patient outcomes.”

The Clinical Advisor spoke with Dr Ferrara during the AANP conference about what he aims to accomplish as the new president.

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Q: We have spoken previously about your work on obtaining full practice authority (FPA) for New York State. What are your legislative goals on the state and federal level during your upcoming term as President of AANP?

Dr Ferrara: On the federal level, we aim to eliminate the barriers that exist that prevent nurse practitioners (NPs) from caring for and providing resources to their patients. The outdated barriers within Medicare and Medicaid, as well as other programs, are going to be the target of what we’re going to focus on. This can be found in legislation that is written and exists in The Improving Care and Access to Nurses Act (ICAN Act, HR 2713). [The bipartisan legislation, which was reintroduced in April 2023 in the House of Representatives, would remove administrative and practice barriers under Medicare and Medicaid for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and PAs.]

This bill will allow nurse practitioners to do many things that we are currently prohibited from doing such as ordering diabetic shoes. For our patients with diabetes who have Medicare, NPs are fully capable of ordering and providing access to medical nutrition therapy services. So that’s going to be what we’re aiming to do at the federal level.

On the state level, there are 27 states that allow full and direct access to NPs and we intend to help the remaining states pass FPA for their NPs. The states that do not have FPA are amongst the states that are in the highest need of access to care. We are working hard on the federal and state levels with our partners to remove these outdated barriers so that patients can choose an NP for their care.

Q: How will AANP counter the pushback from the American Medical Association (AMA) and other physician organizations on some of these legislative gains?

Dr Ferrara: AANP is going to focus on the facts when we talk about FPA. One of those facts is that FPA increases access to care, avoids duplication of services, and reduces unnecessary repetition of orders, office visits, and care services. It also allows patients to see their provider of choice. We do believe that patients should have their choice when it comes to selecting their health care provider and FPA removes anti-competitive restrictions that interfere with patients choosing NPs to deliver care.

Q: What issues are being discussed in the hallways and between the sessions?

Dr Ferrara: There’s an incredible energy here at the conference. Being back in person has just been a great experience for everyone. One of the things I picked up on is the increased amount of diversity of the conference attendees that we’re seeing. There’s an energy amongst everybody to make new connections and to meet people in real life that we know on social media. The other thing that I’m hearing is an appreciation of the clinical content that’s being offered at the conference and the latest options when it comes to medications and treatments. People are just happy to learn and incorporate evidence-based medicine into their daily practices.

Q: Is there one place that you want to visit first as AANP President?

Dr Ferrara: Yes, The White House. If there’s an opportunity to speak with our president or our lawmakers, or anyone who’s willing to listen to the message that we have about nurse practitioners — increasing access to care and the need to eliminate barriers to care — I would look forward to doing that and representing this wonderful profession.

Health care is changing very rapidly, we need to keep up with the pace of change and I believe that we have the power to influence that change. It is my hope and goal that I could be that vessel to help facilitate that change. I encourage our members and friends to reach out to me. I want to be collaborative. I want to be working together with folks to provide patients with the care and access that they need. That’s why most of us do this and if I could help facilitate that change, I feel like I’ll have done my job.

Q: What would you like to say to your aunt who got you interested in health care and nursing?

Dr Ferrara: I would just say thank you, Aunt Julie, for recommending this career path for me. Even though I didn’t believe that is where I wanted to be initially, I’m forever grateful. I still speak with her today about my career path. She’s quite proud.

Visit Clinical Advisor’s meetings section for more coverage of AANP 2023.