American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) is a national organization that aims at improving the standards of nurse practitioners’ work and promoting health initiatives that allow NPs to fully utilize their knowledge and experience. The organization’s core values include integrity, excellence, professionalism, leadership, and service (American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 2020). AANP supports the prescriptive authority for NPs, the more extensive use of telehealth, the principles of team-based care, as well as the decriminalization of marijuana for therapeutic use. AANP has several membership options for professionals from NP students to retired NPs. Moreover, anyone can join the organization as an associate member, as long as they pay annual fees. However, non-NPs are not allowed to participate in elections and can not seek office. Practicing NPs have to complete the study program and get their certification from an authorized certification board. Annual fees vary from 55$ for students and retired NPs to 165$ for associate members (non-NPs). Obtaining membership is an easy, straightforward process, and the costs are relatively low, considering the benefits.
Membership in AANP provides numerous benefits to professionals and students. Educational benefits include free access to CE center courses, subscriptions to important scientific journals, scholarships, and access to members-only forums. Professional growth is the main focus of AANP, as it offers premium CV placement on the job board for the members and organizes conferences to ensure effective networking. It also provides significant discounts on professional liability and health insurance, as well as on clinical reference tools. AAANP offers legal support for the NPs and helps to manage public relations. NPs can study local or national legislation with the help of AANP and participate in developing new policies through direct engagement with the members of Congress. AANP ensures members’ access to the most relevant sources of information in the healthcare industry. Besides free subscriptions to JAANP and JNP, members receive a weekly newsletter and regular updates on the national and state legislation. Overall, members can enjoy access to materials and discounts that make annual membership a worthy investment.
AANP regularly posts statements on the pressing issues in the US healthcare industry. One of the most recent problems is the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on minorities. AANP suggests implementing a number of practices to eliminate health disparities. One of those is the collection of COVID-19 data specific to minorities. It should help to evaluate the impact of the pandemic on these communities. In addition, AANP suggests creating a governmental unit responsible for dealing with health inequalities. AANP states that softening regulations for NPs is vital during the pandemic, as it would significantly improve access to primary medical care among minorities. Notably, the states of Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, and Wisconsin have followed the recommendations to temporarily waive the restrictions for NPs. It proves that AANP can impact public opinion and, as a result, the decisions of major political figures.
The opioid crisis is yet another critical issue addressed by AANP. The organization supported the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) that allowed NPs to obtain buprenorphine waivers to treat substance use disorders (SUD). Statistics show that NPs often operate in rural areas with low access to adequate medical care. Hence, it is extremely important to grant them the authority to use medication-assisted treatments (MATs) for SUD. AANP offers a free course for the members who want to obtain buprenorphine waivers.
AANP takes a strong stance on gun control issues in the US. Following the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton in 2019, the organization posted a statement urging the government to implement measures for better control of automatic weapons sales. AANP has been consistently supportive of the initiatives to restrict gun sales in the US. In 2016, it endorsed the CDC letter to the senators, urging them to lift restrictions on gun violence research. AANP also suggests improving access to mental health treatment as one of the solutions for the issue.
Throughout the years, NPs have faced numerous struggles in their work that AANP addresses in its statements. Most of the states impose limits on NPs’ scope of practice, therefore reducing the patients’ access to quality medical care (Buerhaus, 2018). Buerhaus (2018) also points out that the most vulnerable categories of the population suffer from these laws, as NPs are, in general, less picky than physicians in their attitudes towards the patients. Along with other healthcare organizations, AANP advocates the APRN consensus model that aims at establishing unified standards for the scope of practice for NPs in all states. However, as the last decade has shown, it is probably going to take years or maybe even decades to fully implement the model in all states.
AANP has been continuously supportive of FPA (Full Practice Authority), which would allow NPs in all states to manage tests and treatments independently without having to rely on physicians’ opinions. Numerous studies have shown that the efficiency and outcomes of NPs’ and physicians’ work are comparable (Dillon & Gary, 2017). However, as FPA for NPs has faced opposition in many states, AANP suggested a “transition period” practice that would reduce the concerns of the legislators (Dillon & Gary, 2017). The idea of the “transition period” implies that a NP has to work a certain number of hours (depending on the state) under a physician’s guidance to obtain FPA. Despite the proposed changes leading to the approval of the modified FPA legislature in several states, the plan has not gained enough recognition at the federal level.
Professionals in most industries need unions to protect their rights, and health care is not an exception. However, AANP can offer much more than just legal counseling to NPs. It conducts and supports research that helps to dispel the myths about the profession and provide evidence that supports the importance of NPs’ work. By joining AANP, I can promote the NP profession in several ways. First, membership fees ensure the smooth operation of the organization. Second, as membership in AANP offers opportunities for the professional growth, NPs can enjoy the benefits of continuous education and do their job to the best of their abilities. Last but not least, membership in the organization would make it easier for me to propose and support legislative initiatives that are aimed at lifting restrictions to the NPs’ scope of practice and authority. Moreover, I could consider participating in AANP elections to be able to directly influence the policies of the organization. Overall, joining AANP offers numerous opportunities for NPs to work towards a better future for the profession and healthcare industry in general, and every NP student should consider doing it.
American Association of Nurse Practitioners. (n.d.) Web.
Buerhaus, P. (2018). Nurse practitioners: A solution to America’s primary care crisis. American Enterprise Institute. Web.
Dillon, D., & Gary, F. (2017). Full practice authority for nurse practitioners. Nursing Administration Quarterly, 41(1), 86-93. Web.