DNP Graduates: Agents of Social Change
As we prepare for a new POTUS, many of us are considering the imminent social changes that directly impact our patients and our profession. In September, we started precepting MSW students in addition to NP and CNS students in our free clinic. The students started with providing SBIRT screening and have expanded, in the past five months, to helping patients navigate the health and social welfare system. Our clinics only provide primary care services to people who live <200% FPL and have no insurance. Consequently, referrals to specialists and surgical consults are challenging and many have barriers to healthy living, such as housing and food insecurity, low income, serious mental illness, recent immigration or language other than English as a first language. As we seek to help patients optimize their health and wellness, I have realized the importance of my competency in all of the DNP Essentials to create a new system of care.
Imagine if everyone had access to appropriate and affordable healthcare at a time and place of their choosing.
This is my goal. Last month, in this column, I considered how the DNP Essentials help achieve this goal. What if we expand this consideration to our interprofessional social work colleagues? I have learned that social work can follow at least two different tracks (similar to nursing): a clinical or an administrative track. The administrative track is called "social change," and the students who choose this track would be more interested in leading a non-profit organization than counseling individual clients. Many of their nine competencies mirror our eight DNP Essentials.
They are expected to be competent in:
- Ethical and professional behaviors
- Engage diversity and difference in practice
- Advance human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice
- Engage in practice informed research and research-informed practice
- Engage in policy practice
- Engage with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
- Assess individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
- Intervene with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
- Evaluate practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
The power of interprofessional education and practice is amazing! When we lead by example through engaging our colleagues to truly care for individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities, our ability to deliver high quality, cost-effective, evidence-based care is magnified. Our individual patients, families, and communities benefit directly and indirectly through a healthier population. This translates into a healthier economy, improved economic and social stability, and improved quality of life.
As DNP graduates, we are healthcare leaders responsible for shaping the course of healthcare. What better time to showcase and demonstrate our competencies, and those of our interprofessional colleagues, than when our country is going through a major social change with healthcare at the forefront of the discussion?
How will you voice your opinions? Will you have a seat at the table in these assessments, planning, interventions, and evaluations? If we do not speak up for our patients, our profession, and ourselves, someone else will. I urge each of you to be the healthcare leader you were educated and trained to be. We must all practice to the full extent of our education and training and embrace our scope of practice to transform healthcare and social change. Join me!