Meet Cardiac Nurse Diana-Lyn Baptiste

Meet Cardiac Nurse Diana-Lyn Baptiste

Longtime cardiovascular nurse Diana-Lyn Baptiste, DNP, RN, CNE, FPCNA, FAAN, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association (PCNA) board member,  gave Minority Nurse some insight into a career in the broad field of cardiac nursing. As the nation marks American Heart Month in February, Baptiste shares some of what makes this career choice a good fit for her. Cardiac nurse Diana-Lyn Baptiste

What inspired you to have a career in cardiac nursing?
I was inspired to become a cardiovascular nurse in nursing school. I remember learning about heart failure in my pathophysiology course for the first time. I was fascinated by learning how the heart works, and the effect it has on our bodies when it isn’t working properly. I was surprised by how, when the heart fails, it creates a domino effect on our circulatory system, impacting other vital organs such as lungs and kidneys. It was then that I realized that I wanted to always care for patients who required care and treatment for heart problems. I wanted to become a part of the solution and prevention of cardiovascular disease.

What are the most important nursing skills for cardiac nurses to have?
One of the most important skills for a cardiac nurse is physical assessment. For some patients, their cardiovascular issues aren’t immediately identifiable by vital signs or diagnostic tests. Nurses must have very sharp assessment skills to detect when their patients are experiencing an issue. Physical assessments such as listening to the heart with a stethoscope, and assessing for changes in color of skin (paleness or bluish undertone) can tell us a lot about our patients. Also, asking the right questions about pain and symptoms can tell us a lot about what’s happening with our patients. Active listening is a great nursing skill that has proven to save lives. When nurses listen to their patients, they are more likely to detect that something is going wrong.

As a cardiovascular nurse, I have always relied on my assessments, diagnostic labs, and exams, as well as my patient’s verbal accounts to develop a safe plan of care to support good health outcomes.

With so many advances in cardiovascular health, how do you stay current on new trends, nursing techniques, or evidence-based practices?
As a cardiovascular nurse, it is imperative that I stay abreast to the latest evidence-based literature and guidelines to support safe and efficient care, and education for patients. As a nurse and researcher, I follow the most up-to-date treatment national guidelines published by the American Colleges of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA) and PCNA. These organizations are committed to providing the best practices, based on research to ensure good health outcomes for all.

I also attend ACC/AHA and PCNA conferences and continuing education programs to ensure that I’m learning the latest research-based guidelines. As a researcher, I conduct research and publish articles to contribute to the cardiovascular science. Finally, I also serve on writing committees for the above noted organizations, where I have the opportunity to contribute to the development of guidelines for nurses and other cardiovascular healthcare providers. All of these activities are a part of my commitment to lifelong learning and the enhancement of cardiovascular care of patients with cardiovascular diseases.

What do you most enjoy about your career as a cardiac nurse?
As a cardiac nurse, I have the privilege of meeting and working with wonderful patients and colleagues. While working in community outreach, I meet the most dynamic patients. I found that through the years, I enjoy speaking with individuals living with cardiovascular disease. There is so much to learn from them as they share their experiences and wisdom.

What would you want other nurses to know about this career path?
Almost 50 percent of individuals in the United States are living with some form of cardiovascular disease. There is much opportunity for nurses to enter the cardiovascular field. Cardiac nurses are not limited to hospital inpatient units, they can work in outpatient clinics, operating rooms, cardiac cath labs or rehabilitation units, nuclear medicine procedure areas, and critical care units, among others.

I want nurses to know that among several nursing specialties, they can choose any area of their choice, whether that is oncology, obstetrics, surgery, pediatrics, or neurology. What I’d like nurses to remember is that every patient has a heart, and the heart serves as the center for all functions. With that being said, every nurse is a cardiac nurse. All nurses are trained to take care of the heart.

WOC Nurses Week Highlights Specialty

WOC Nurses Week Highlights Specialty

Wound, Ostomy, and Continence (WOC) Nurse Week runs from April 14-20 and brings attention to this nursing specialty and the expertise WOC nurses bring to patient care. logo saying WOC Nurses Rock for WOC nurses week

As a member of the Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurses Society™ (WOCN®) for 31 years and now its president, Vicky Pontieri-Lewis, MS, RN, ACNS-BC-CWOCN, says the field is exciting and ever changing. This kind of dynamic professional learning environment brings a career satisfaction that keeps her advocating for nurses in the specialty while also appreciating the continual work they must do to stay current of WOC developments.

Pontieri-Lewis shared some of her thoughts with Minority Nurse about the career path and the excitement of being in the broader field of WOC nursing.

How did your career as a WOC nurse begin and evolve?
After graduating from nursing school in 1983, I had the opportunity to work on a surgical unit with patients who underwent cardiac surgery in addition to patients who also had abdominal surgery, with an ostomy. The unit had an Enterostomal Therapy (ET) nurse, now called a Wound, Ostomy, and Continence nurse, who consulted primarily to patients with an ostomy. I noticed when the charge nurse was making daily patient care assignments, none of my colleagues wanted to care for the patients with ostomies. So, I always volunteered to have the ostomy patients within my assignment.

I worked with the ET nurse at the time to ensure in her absence that I would provide the ostomy patients with the right education. Later that year, my grandmother who lived in a very small remote town in the mountains, was diagnosed with colon cancer. She underwent surgery and as a result had a colostomy. I went to visit her and was appalled by the lack of access she had to any type of ostomy pouching system. At one point she was using a plastic bag! I tried my best to get her access to what we used in the United States so she could have some quality of life.

When I returned, the ET nurse at the hospital announced that she would be leaving. After the experience with my grandmother, I knew I wanted to pursue the role of an ET nurse. I went to my administrator to inquire if the hospital could assist with the finances to attend ET school. After I wrote a proposal for financial funding, the hospital agreed to send me to ET school for 6 weeks, and in return I signed a contract that I would stay at the hospital for one year after becoming certified.

Thirty-eight years later I was still at the same facility, and it became a major academic university trauma medical center. I developed the full scope of the WOC nurse role at the facility and then the advanced practice role. I had no idea at the time how the roles would expand to consulting so many patients with ostomies, wounds of all types, and continence needs. Going to ET school was the best path I took in my nursing career. I have dedicated most of my nursing career to being a WOC nurse, and I absolutely love what I do!!

What attracted you to this specialty?
As I shared above, I have a “love” for caring for patients with an ostomy. My grandmother was my inspiration and I always have the memory of her on my shoulder when caring for patients with an ostomy. Caring for patients with different types of wounds was ever-evolving as new technologies and products were being developed. It was almost like baby boomers, but “wound care boomers.” Each time I attended a conference there was something new and exciting being presented.

As the role of the WOC Nurse continued to grow and develop in healthcare systems, so did the WOCN®, the largest and most recognized professional nursing community dedicated to advancing the practice and delivery of expert healthcare to individuals with wound, ostomy, and continence care needs. The WOC nurse conferences began to include more evidenced-based lectures and presentations, more research was being done, and notably­, products were being developed across the specialty.

What would inspire nursing students to consider this specialty as a career path?
Nursing students across the country would be inspired to pursue a career path to be a WOC nurse by simply talking to and spending time with a WOC nurse. Nursing students today are thirsty for knowledge on how to manage wounds and skin integrity, and to educate patients with an ostomy.

Spending a day or two with a WOC nurse can provide a realistic insight into the scope of the role. Nursing students will undoubtedly be dazzled by the wealth of knowledge and expertise that WOC nurses possess, and the extent of how that knowledge and expertise contributes directly to patient care and quality outcomes. The role of the WOC nurse can be in an inpatient or outpatient setting, allowing one to work independently, and be innovative in the care delivered. Overall, the impact of the role is inspiring and rewarding and it can be a lifelong career filled with continuous learning and professional development.

What might surprise people about your role, all you do, and your connections with your patients?
The role of the WOC nurse is very rewarding. WOC nurses can work with all members of the healthcare team to improve the outcomes of patients. Since the scope of practice is very specialized, WOC nurses are viewed as the experts and are consistently relied on not only by the healthcare team, but by patients as well.

I had the opportunity to form an in-depth connection with patients from providing support and guidance, to sometimes just lending an ear to listen to their concerns and healthcare needs. Overall, the in-depth connection, the breadth of education that is provided, and the ongoing support is the most satisfying—especially when you can see the impact that you have had on someone’s life.

The Importance of CPR Certification for Nurses: A Comprehensive Guide

The Importance of CPR Certification for Nurses: A Comprehensive Guide

Heart-stopping moments don’t just happen in the OR. As a nurse, you may be called upon in emergencies without access to an AED (automatic external defibrillator) or other equipment. Ensuring CPR certification means you are on hand with the knowledge to help save a life in or out of the hospital.the-importance-of-cpr-certification-for-nurses-a-comprehensive-guide

Debunking 5 Big Myths About CPR

Although most people know CPR and how it can save lives, wrong information often hinders effective aid. Do you think these, even to yourself?

Someone Around Me Will Know CPR

Most Americans know CPR increases survival rates for myocardial infarctions, but only 2 out of 5 would be willing to perform it. Why won’t people help with a procedure they know can be the difference between life and death?

The one reason cited for not rendering aid is a lack of confidence in proper CPR procedures. CPR certification addresses this issue and provides a way to save a life when others won’t step in.

The EMTs Will Render Aid When They Arrive

EMT arrival highly depends on traffic, weather, and location, with 1 in 10 people waiting more than 30 minutes for an ambulance. Even response times of fewer than 10 minutes may be too late when someone has suffered a heart attack.

Survival rates decrease 7-10% every minute CPR is delayed. Bystander help can double or triple survival, but you must act quickly. The rule of thumb is that you are the help until help arrives.

No One Dies From Heart Attacks Now

While increased efforts in prevention are laudable, they can promote the idea that heart attacks are not fatal in this modern age. But cardiac disease, including myocardial infarction, kills the most Americans every year compared to every other disease. Performing CPR is still the best way to respond and save a life.

Everyone Receives Equal Care and Help 

Studies show that low-income and minority communities have much higher rates of death from heart attacks. This survival gap can be up to 19%, proving that CPR training is helpful and vital in disadvantaged areas. If you live or work in one of these areas, being confident in CPR and willing to assist is imperative.

Hospitals Have the Latest Equipment–We Don’t Need CPR

According to The Joint Commission, crash carts with missing or expired items make up the top three list of hospital problems. You cannot count on equipment to take the place of CPR training. When the AED fails, or the crash cart battery is dead, it is up to you to begin compressions immediately.

Why Certification is Crucial

You Forget What You Learned

You probably received CPR training in nursing school, but did you know that retraining and revisiting procedures are vital to rendering optimal aid? Your knowledge of methods and skills in administering CPR deteriorate as time passes since your initial training.

Procedures Are Updated Regularly

Also, remember that guidelines for CPR are updated as new research emerges, and you need to know what the latest findings advise to give the best help.

For example, in 2020, the American Heart Association released new guidelines on CPR for both in-hospital and out-of-hospital cases. Included are changes to the Adult CPR Algorithm and

Chains of Survival. If your training was before 2020, you must include these essential revisions.

But I’m not a cardiac nurse, you might say. According to specialist Diana-Lyn Baptiste, “every nurse is a cardiac nurse” because, quite simply, every patient has a heart susceptible to disease and infarctions. And crises can happen anywhere, in any ward.

Your Patient Outcomes Will be Better

Swiftly providing aid helps patient outcomes in the short run, but the effects don’t stop there. When nurses are certified in CPR, their patients exhibit improved outcomes from the time of the event to discharge.

Training also helps you stay calm when emergencies happen, and your attitude transfers to your patients, reassuring them amid what can be a terrifying episode.

Certification is Easier Than Ever

You used to have to spend hours at in-person training sessions or pay for expensive certifications. But now, you can get CPR certification online and even study on your mobile phone at home or when you have spare moments during the day.

There are no textbooks or manuals to buy, no taking time off to attend classes, and your workplace might even pay for your training. The convenience of online certification makes it a no-sweat, no-hassle way to level up your skills and resume.

What better way to contribute to the well-being of yourself, your patients, and your workplace?

Having CPR certification lets you act with speed and confidence in a crisis. Think about it this way: if you or a loved one were having a cardiac event, what kind of person would you want to help?

A CRNA Career Path: Meet Bijal Chaturvedi

A CRNA Career Path: Meet Bijal Chaturvedi

Nurses considering a career in nurse anesthesiology know the role is complex and demands a high level of critical thinking and commitment. The career path, in which many certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) obtain a doctor of nursing practice degree, also offers a high salary and an upward projection of job openings. With a dynamic mix of clinical practice and the capability to work in many settings, nurse anesthetists find a rewarding career.CRNA Bijal Chaturvedi headshot in a black top

Bijal Chaturvedi, DNP, CRNA, GHLC is a member of the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (AANA) and gave Minority Nurse some insight into this career path.

How did your career path lead to nursing and becoming a CRNA?
During my final year in college, I battled severe bronchitis and sought help at the health clinic. The provider who attended to me was not a doctor but a nurse practitioner, displaying both kindness and extensive knowledge. This encounter sparked a conversation about her nursing career, introducing me to the world of advanced practice nursing. This pivotal moment inspired me to explore nursing as a career path.

Upon college graduation, despite my Indian parents’ desire for me to pursue medical school, I knew I wanted a profession that combined science, pharmacology, and interpersonal interactions. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in cellular biology, I promptly earned another Bachelor of Nursing within a year. Upon graduation, I entered the field of critical care nursing, working in the most acute critical care unit settings such as burn, cardiac, and transplant ICUs.  It was during my time at Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Neurospine ICU that I witnessed the role of CRNAs. This experience solidified my decision to pursue a career as a CRNA.

I earned my Master of Science in Anesthesia Nursing from Rush University in Chicago in 2005. In 2021, I received my Doctorate of Nursing from University of North Florida, and in 2022 I received my Global Health Leadership Certification from Northwestern University. I have participated in numerous global mission trips and currently co-chair the AANA’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. I am also the chair of the Illinois Association of Nurse Anesthesiology’s DEI committee. I am passionate about healthcare equity and access and have my own nonprofit called Citizens For Humanity which addresses social determinants of health.

Do you specialize in a certain area or population?
Numerous healthcare environments rely on anesthesia services, encompassing fields such as dentistry, podiatry, surgery, obstetrics, and pain management. In my professional journey as a CRNA, I have experienced diverse settings, including community hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, and plastic surgery centers, and participation in large teaching hospitals as part of an Anesthesia Care Team. The degree of autonomy varies across these settings, ranging from those with no supervision to those adopting a more interdependent model. I have experience working with diverse patient populations, including pediatric, low-income, and critically ill individuals.

What part of your job is particularly meaningful to you?
The profession of nurse anesthesiology offers a richly diverse and demanding path. In the clinical realm, you have the profound privilege of impacting individuals during their most vulnerable moments. A significant aspect of the gratification derived from administering anesthesia lies in the opportunity to support individuals through what may be the most daunting day of their lives. They grapple with fear of diagnosis, anticipation of pain, and uncertainties ahead. Your presence as a reassuring figure by their side during this critical juncture becomes paramount. While your expertise and competence in ensuring their safety throughout the procedure are undeniably vital, it is the compassion and humanity you extend that hold greater significance than any medication you administer.

Is there something or someone that helped you in your career that others thinking of this career path will find helpful?
My foremost recommendation is to shadow multiple CRNAs across various cases. This immersive experience will provide a comprehensive understanding of what lies ahead. Engage in conversations with current students to gain insights into the rigorous nature of anesthesia school. Recognize that anesthesia training demands significant dedication; therefore, it’s prudent to prepare financially by saving diligently.

Building a robust financial cushion alleviates stress and minimizes post-graduation debt, especially considering the constraints on working while in school. Enhance your academic foundation by enrolling in graduate-level courses in anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, and pharmacology. This not only demonstrates your commitment but also strengthens your candidacy, particularly if your undergraduate GPA is subpar. While these courses may not be transferrable to most anesthesia programs, they serve to fortify your knowledge base and reacquaint you with the rigors of student life.

What would you like others to know about a being a CRNA?
I believe that aspiring RNs should possess a robust grasp of physiology, pathophysiology, and pharmacology prior to embarking on anesthesia school. Embracing challenging assignments, volunteering for cases involving the most critically ill patients, and delving deeply into the rationale behind every action are crucial steps in nurturing a profound understanding of patient care. This comprehension extends to the selection of medications and interventions, ensuring that aspiring CRNAs are well-prepared for the demanding journey ahead. The ability to think critically is paramount in the delivery of safe anesthesia.

CRNAs must excel as problem solvers and keen observers, interpreting data independently and making informed decisions that can profoundly impact patient outcomes. The weight of responsibility underscores the imperative of being both accurate and decisive, recognizing that lives hinge on the choices made in the operating room.

What is your advice for RNs considering a career as a CRNA?
Research various CRNA programs to find the one that best suits your needs. Consider factors such as clinical opportunities, cultural diversity, and program structure. Make an informed decision based on your personal preferences and goals.

Once enrolled in a program, maximize every educational opportunity, even if it seems insignificant. Graduate-level education requires proactive engagement, and your dedication will determine the quality of your learning experience. Learn from every case and practitioner, embracing the lessons they offer.

Collaborate with CRNAs who may be perceived as challenging, as they often uphold high standards and offer valuable insights. Maintain a positive attitude and remain open to feedback to maximize your learning potential. Avoid being labeled as unteachable, as it can hinder your educational progress.

Meet the New President of the AANP: Stephen A. Ferrara

Meet the New President of the AANP: Stephen A. Ferrara

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) welcomed Stephen A. Ferrara, DNP, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN, as the organization’s new president, taking the reigns from former AANP President April Kapu, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, FAANP, FCCM, FAAN in late-June.

Ferrara is a busy man, wearing many hats.


He’s an actively practicing NP in New York and a member of the senior leadership team at Columbia University’s School of Nursing, serving as the associate dean of clinical affairs and assistant professor responsible for overseeing the NP primary care faculty practice located in New York City and teaches health policy in the DNP program.

Ferrara is passionate about health information technology and integrating evidence-based practice into daily nursing practice. His doctoral work examined the impact of

group medical visits for patients with Type 2 diabetes and whether this intervention led to better health outcomes. He’s been honored with the AANP New York State Award for Clinical Excellence and inducted as a Fellow of AANP, as well as into the American Academy of Nursing and the New York Academy of Medicine.

 Meet Stephen Ferrara, the president of the AANP.

Congratulations on becoming the new president of AANP. What do you look forward to most at the helm of one of nursing’s most influential organizations?

It’s just great to be leading the largest NP organization that represents over 355,000 nurse practitioners across the U.S. I’m excited to continue to have nurse practitioners partner, care, and grow so we can build the NP workforce for the future. We do that through speaking with our policymakers and modernizing state and federal laws that will allow our patients greater access to NPs.

Talk about your early years in nursing and what inspired you to become a nurse.

I’ll start with what inspired me to become a nurse. I knew early on I wanted to be in a profession that helped people. I was unsure what that profession would be, but I always gravitated towards the help professions. I credit my aunt, a nurse, who all the while was saying consider nursing, and I did it. It took me a while to come to that decision on my own. Once I understood the role of nurses and patient advocacy, the ability to share health information and care for people and promote health and wellness, that was my epiphany.

Once that all came together, I said okay, this is what I want to do. So, I credit my aunt for putting me on the path to my career as a nurse practitioner. I knew I wanted to work as a nurse practitioner early on. I worked on a med-surg floor, which was a heavy orthopedic floor. And I give kudos to my colleagues who are on units in hospitals. But I knew that helped solidify that I did not want to be in that environment. I wanted to see patients on an ambulatory basis. And that’s where nurse practitioners became the natural fit for me. I’ve worked in some prior healthcare settings. I was associate director of student health services at Fordham University and loved working with college students. I also worked in retail health for a bit with MinuteClinic. Before joining the Columbia School of Nursing, I worked in occupational health. So, I was always connected to primary care. That’s where I wanted to be. That’s where I thought I could influence my patients and partner with them to reach our shared goals.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have these roles and fulfill what I wanted to do. Other than my presidency of AANP, I am the Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs at Columbia University School of Nursing. I oversee our primary care nurse practitioner practice as my everyday work, so I still do similar types of work, but more on a system scale than an individual patient basis. And I feel like I’m still contributing to the healthcare system through that NP lens.

When you were the executive director of the Nurse Practitioner Association of New York State (NPA), you were frustrated by arbitrary limitations” in your practicer and successfully advocated for full practice authority (FPA). Can you talk about that?

I enjoyed my time at the Nurse Practitioner Association of New York State as a member of that organization and then ultimately as executive director. I was frustrated by things such as not being able to sign most medical orders of life-sustaining treatment forms or not being able to sign, believe it or not, a barber who needs a physical to be cleared to get their barber license in New York State. As a nurse practitioner, the law at the time prohibited NPs from signing this form. I’ve been performing physicals for hundreds of patients across the spectrum, and organizations accept my signature, except for this barber form. Some of those examples drove me to get involved at the policy level. And I thought that all we need to do is change these laws, and then you could do it, but it’s not an easy task. It’s certainly empowering to feel part of it, and my frustrations were not just mine. Once you speak to colleagues, they have the same frustrations. So, working with people who want the same things, ultimately taking care of the patients in front of us without those barriers, was very empowering.

In those ten years, nurse practitioners can now sign most forms in New York State, and we can sign the barber physicals. In April of 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation that nurse practitioners with more than 3600 hours of clinical experience have full practice authority and are no longer mandated to have any contract with physicians to practice. So, what this means is increased access for patients. It means a more equitable healthcare system. We are improving those dynamics around us. I advocate for everyone to get involved in health policy because it affects us all personally or professionally. So, NPs have a crucial role in advocating. Nurses are the most trusted profession in the Gallup poll every year. And we need to continue using our voices outside patient rooms with our policymakers and lawmakers. So they need to hear the stories of the challenges we face that impact patients in their constituents and districts and then work together to solve them. I want to leave this profession better than when I found it. And it requires not just nurses and nurse practitioners to talk about these things, but collectively, we need to use our voices to escalate these issues. And we know as nurses, we’re leaders, we have no problem advocating for our patients. I would love to see us continue that advocacy beyond and to our lawmakers and policymakers.

You’ve worked with several national organizations. Can you talk about who they are, what motivated you to join them, and how nurses can become more involved? 

I’ll use AANP as the first national organization. People need to join their membership organizations. They don’t necessarily consider joining an organization because information is out there, but our national organizations advocate for the profession. And they are looking out for us in ways we cannot do alone. So, join your national organization and your state organization. Sometimes, they’re not the same organization. And that’s somewhat confusing. So you have to be a member first and foremost. I recognize, and I’ve been through the ups and downs of a career, and sometimes you want to reach out to your organization and say, “I’m a volunteer, and I want to help you. I want to lend my talent.” And sometimes you are so busy with your work and personal life that you can’t possibly volunteer any more time, and that’s okay. But we want you to be a member. We want you to lend your time and talent and be part of the membership. That’s how we can band together and use our collective voices. Hopefully, that’s a loud voice with more people supporting the cause.

The other organization I’ve been involved with for two years is Jonas Nursing and Veterans Healthcare. I led that organization as executive director, and that was a fantastic opportunity to support nurses returning to school for their doctoral education in the form of scholarships. So, it was empowering to hear the stories of the applicants and what they wanted to do with their advanced education and plans. In every instance, it was about bringing increased access to care to their communities or studying underserved communities historically passed over. It was inspiring to me. It gives me hope for the profession’s future, knowing that such passionate people are in the pipeline and looking to finish their education to do the work they feel most impactful for their patients and their communities. So it’s been great.

You’ve worked in several nursing leadership positions. What advice do you have for nurses seeking leadership positions?

First, you need some experience. People should volunteer, whether volunteering their time or being a mentee, reaching out to individuals who might be out there who could help them. I support and endorse the idea of a mentor-and-mentee relationship. Finding the right mentor takes time. Sometimes, that mentor may not be available to you based on what’s going on in their lives. So there needs to be a plan, and you need to have a few people on your list that you identify that you can say, hey, I’m going reach out to them to see if they’ll give me some words of advice. I think that’s quite powerful.

The other thing to say to people is that once you have some experience, go ahead and apply for the job. You may not get that role, but going through the steps of submitting an application for interviews is always good. And it allows you to interview that organization as much as they’re interviewing you. That’s a key. As people mature in their careers and roles, I remember being in love with a job before it was offered. I’m like, “Oh, this would be the perfect job for me.” And then you go on the interviews, speak with people, and do your diligence. You’ve concluded that maybe that role is not the best for me. And I think that takes just having some experience, speaking with people, and making the best decision for yourself. Sometimes, we forget about that when we go on job interviews. We see a job description on paper, and it looks perfect. But the reality is no job is perfect. You have to look at the full pros and cons of any situation. Certainly, there are lots of opportunities for people to get involved. Nurses make great leaders, and I encourage people to seek those leadership positions.

Speaking of leadership, what was your motivation to run for president of the AANP?

I wanted to give back to my profession. I wanted to support the profession in ways I felt supported in the 20-plus years I’ve been a nurse practitioner. So I like working with people. I like making changes at the system level. And being the AANP President would allow me to continue doing those things at a national level. And so far, I am just still a few months into this. I officially became president at the end of June, but it’s been fun. It’s been so rewarding to me. Hearing and speaking with our members invigorates me and gives me the passion to continue creating positive change.

You are particularly interested in health information technology and integrating evidence-based practice into daily practice. How do you plan to make that a focus of nursing?

From a healthcare technology perspective, I think there’s a huge potential to allow us to care for patients better. The example I like to use is the electronic health record, which is sometimes challenging because it’s very structured and takes more time. But what we have accessible to us that we didn’t have before is just reams and reams of data. And it’s a lot of data points, and no human can look at all these data points and make sense out of them. And this is where I see the potential of artificial intelligence to look at information and summarize it. We have wearable technology like the Fitbit and Apple watches and things like that. We can get EKG readings every hour that can go to anyone. But that information isn’t helpful if it’s just recorded as a point in time. And that’s where technology can help us make better sense of the information and determine if this information that we’re getting is good and if it’s actionable. And that’s where a clinician’s expertise comes in to say yes; this is good information that I can make an educated decision for my patients. So that’s critically important.

My doctoral work focused on evidence-based practice to critically appraise data and ensure we’re doing things in healthcare because they are based on evidence and not just how we always did that. It’s vital for credibility; it’s essential to new treatments, and as we learn more about disease processes, it’s critical to keep incorporating these aspects into our daily practice. And then there’s the research piece. There are so many opportunities for research for nurse practitioners. At Columbia University, we’re working with our researchers on nurse practitioner and patient outcomes, but not just that. We’re also looking at nurse practitioner-led interventions and different studies aimed at taking better care of patients.

What is your vision for AANP under your tenure? 

It will be working with our stakeholders and lawmakers at the federal and state levels. We want to remove barriers to practice that impede nurse practitioners from delivering healthcare to our patients. There are many outdated laws or policies, particularly Medicare and Medicaid. Medicaid is also legislated at the federal level, and there’s an opportunity there for us to make historic changes within those programs that will increase access to care. One of the items in the current bill in Congress, both in the House and in the Senate, is the ICAN Act, which aims to improve care and access to nurse practitioners. This bill will make many improvements and modernizations to laws, including a nurse practitioner’s ability to prescribe diabetic shoes for patients with Medicare insurance for cardiac rehab, inpatient cardiac rehab, and medical nutrition therapy. There’s a whole host of priorities that are included in this legislation. I was looking this up, and we only have 14 co-sponsors in the House right now for the ICAN legislation out of a possible 435 districts. On the Senate side, there is just one Senate co-sponsor. So, we have a lot of work to bring awareness to this bill and not have it lost in our society’s political discourse today. This means patients are prohibited from getting the care and access they need. The other thing we need to do is on the state level. We have 27 states that are full practice authority. We need to work with those 23 states that are not full practice authority. And we know that full practice authority leads to better outcomes. Most of the healthiest states in the nation are full practice authority states for nurse practitioners.

And conversely, the ones that are not healthy restrict NP practice. So there’s a lot of work to do. And it’s no one person’s responsibility to do all that work. But it’s truly working together and getting our lawmakers to listen to some of these challenges and hear the stories that everybody’s encountering on a daily basis.

You have a lot on your plate. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working hard to elevate the role of NPs?

I put my family first and foremost. I enjoy being a father to my three children and a husband to my wife. My kids are involved in various sports and activities, so you’ll find me at the soccer or the football fields. I listen to music and exercise and try to have some sense of balance in my life. I also love things like sports and cars. I try to find a good mix of balancing everything, but sometimes it’s easier said than done.