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DNP Discussions

What History Teaches Us About the Future

Published July 9, 2014 10:54 AM by Deonne Benedict

Although a 10th grade history teacher sparked my interest in history through asking provocative questions, that interest remained dormant for many years. Other than occasionally surfing the History Channel, I didn’t know what a history enthusiast was… That all changed when I married my husband. My husband arrived with many book shelves full of history literature, many of them primary sources, which – depending on your perspective – are either quite dry or very personal.

This year we saw the 70th anniversary of D-day (June 6, 1944). In August, we will see the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I… Both of which are truly historic, world-changing anniversaries. My 98-year-old next door neighbor – who eats healthfully, walks every day, and goes to the senior center for socializing and dancing (all things we as APNs celebrate in our patients) – recounts a world very different than the one today. He saw a world in the midst of dramatic change, as democracy triumphed over fascism and Stalinism, women joined the workforce, and national interests and alignments were reshaped.

And it reminds me that time marches on. For children born today, World War I will be nearly as remote as the Civil War was to those of us born in my era. And for high schoolers, the Vietnam War will seem as distant as World War II seemed to us. This year, family members from two generations passed on and a new little one joined our family. As I walked through a cemetery with family members dating back to my great-great-great grandparents, it got me thinking...

Next year we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the nurse practitioner – a truly revolutionizing history full of changing innovation… not only in nursing, which it was, but also in health care. It was an innovation that pushed boundaries and changed alignments. And this year we will also celebrate the 10th anniversary of the AACN publishing their paper on the DNP, which started another revolution in healthcare, bringing more APNs to the forefront in leading the change.

As APNs, I believe we are just at the tipping point of the maturing of our profession. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe there are now 18 states, plus the District of Columbia, with plenary authority practice environments. We are finally beginning to experience the setting in which we can thrive (and thus our patients too)! All but one state now allows NPs to prescribe controlled substances. And more states are updating their laws every year. In recent years, we’ve also begun to see people who do what we do in media explaining to others what we do! It seems we might see the day when the general public no longer confuses us with the licensed practical nurse. We even have our (unified) professional organization meeting with our nation’s president, the Secretary of Health, and others to influence policy and bring about more holistic and inclusive healthcare frameworks.

I envision a world in which the general public not only trusts nurses, but knows what we do, and finds us to be the provider of choice for their families. A world where APNs are not only employees, but owners and managers of healthcare organizations; a world where APNs have a reserved spot on every significant healthcare committee and board, ensuring that there is an inclusive, well-trained provider pool and optimal health coordination for our patients; a world where every nurse has access to a quality (paid) residency program; a world where the personalized holistic care we provide is part of the integral MODEL for healthcare; a world where APNs consultations will become the norm; a world where nurse researchers’ data is as valuable as any other discipline, moving the ball forward. State nursing action coalitions have already begun this important work.

What is your vision for the coming era of advanced nursing practice?


I have finally convinced HR to change my title to Occupational Nurse Practitioner from Occupational Nurse, so we still have a ways to go.

I do wish there was a more streamline route for experienced NP's to achieve the DNP, two year of full time study seems a bit much with 30 years experience. I agree we are awesome providers and offer our patients benefits beyond excellent clinical care due to our holistic approach.  

Diane Olejar, Occupational Health - Nurse Practitioner, North American Breweries July 18, 2014 11:13 AM
Rochester NY

I couldn't agree with you more. Healthcare benefit will be amazing in all aspects.

Janet Thurston July 11, 2014 3:03 PM

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