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Featured NP: Sara Buster

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 2, 2017

 

In May, Sara Buster earned her Doctorate of Nursing Practice - Family Nurse Practitioner Degree from Oklahoma City University’s Kramer School of Nursing. She also received the Heart of Nursing Award, which recognizes a student in each class who demonstrates caring and compassion, patient advocacy and enthusiasm.

Sara grew up in Watson in rural McCurtain County, and graduated from nearby Smithville High School. AONP caught up to Sara to learn what drew her to nursing and to learn about the future of the profession.

 

Why did you decide to go into nursing?

I’ve always wanted to be a RN since the time I was very young. I have always enjoyed helping people. I also love how nursing mixes helping people with science.

 

Why did you decide to go beyond being an RN to become a nurse practitioner?

When I was growing up, I was sick a lot so I was constantly at the “doctor’s office.” It was always a nurse practitioner and the nurses that took care of my family and me. When I became a RN, I became interested in what caused illnesses and how to stop them or slow the progression. I feel that nurse practitioners play an important role in primary care, health promotion, and disease prevention.

 

Are there any nurses or teachers along the way who you consider to be role models?

All of the teachers I had at Kramer School of Nursing were fantastic, and I consider them all to be role models. Dr. Crawford who is the director of the DNP program was a great role model for me and helped me a lot both academically and as a mentor.

 

What do you find most rewarding about the work?

I love how nurse practitioners can develop lifelong relationships with their patients and patients’ families. It is truly rewarding to care for patients of all ages throughout their lives.

 

Now that you’ve graduated, what are your career goals? What kind of setting would you like to work in?

My career goals involve working in a primary care clinic in a rural setting. I think nurse practitioners play an important role in serving this underserved population.

 

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States with full practice authority among the healthiest

Posted By Administration, Thursday, June 15, 2017

During the most recent legislative session, some opponents of full practice authority for nurse practitioners argued the move would put patient health and safety at risk. The fact is, full practice authority simply means that NPs would be allowed to put their full education and training to work caring for Oklahomans.

The opponents offered no data to back up their claim and, in fact, national data shows a very different picture. Compare the states with full practice authority against national state health rankings.

Here’s the regulatory map from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners:

Here are the 2016 state health rankings compiled by the United Health Foundation. Using the same colors as above, we color-coded the states to indicate each regulatory environment. There is a lot of green in the top of the rankings.

Eighteen of the top 25 states give NPs full practice authority. Only three of the top 25 states were as restrictive as Oklahoma, which ranked 46th. Of the 22 states with full practice authority, New Mexico had the lowest ranking at 38th.

While that doesn’t prove that full practice authority results in better health for citizens — there are dozens of variables that figure into a population’s health — it refutes the idea that nurse practitioners offer a lesser quality of care.

Study after study has debunked the idea that patients suffer when an NP is the primary care provider. The National Governors Association looked at those studies and wrote, “None of the studies in NGA’s literature review raise concerns about the quality of care offered by NPs. Most studies showed that NP-provided care is comparable to physician-provided care on several process and outcome measures. Moreover, the stud­ies suggest that NPs may provide improved access to care.”

Within their scope of practice, nurse practitioners offer health care outcomes that are comparable to doctors. They also offer our state a chance to improve access to quality health care for all Oklahomans. Many lawmakers got that message this year and supported lifting these antiquated restrictions. But that support wasn’t universal. Supporters of NP full practice authority need to keep working to build support in the legislature and awareness in the general public.

Our state, and the health of Oklahomans, has nowhere to go but up.

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Thank You Legislators!

Posted By Administration, Friday, May 19, 2017

AONP thanks the 72 members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives who supported House Bill 1013. We are especially thankful for the bill’s authors, Rep. Josh Cockroft and Sen. AJ Griffin. Gaining full practice authority is not an easy task, but the vote to pass the bill out of the House considerably increased public awareness and support of the need for full practice authority in Oklahoma.

We would also like to thank the many senators who were supportive of the measure. Although Sen. Yen did not grant the bill a hearing, the support we received from the Senate is greatly appreciated. The legislators in the House and the Senate who supported our measure understand the difficulties many Oklahomans have in accessing quality, affordable health care, and they made it clear that they stand on the side of improving the lives and the health of Oklahomans.

If your representative voted for the bill and you have not yet reached out to them, call or email to thank them for their vote and support of full practice authority. To identify your legislators and find their contact information, search on the Oklahoma State Legislature website. You can find the voting record for HB 1013 online as well. Calling or emailing builds goodwill and lays the groundwork for next legislative session. Plus, it’s just a nice thing to do.

Gaining full practice authority will drastically change and improve the lives of Oklahomans. By allowing nurse practitioners to practice at the full extent of their training and education, access to rural health care will increase and the shortage of primary care providers in the state will be addressed. The progress made throughout the last year and, most recently, during the legislative session created a strong foundation to build upon in the coming months.

Continue working throughout the rest of this year, speaking with your legislators and in your communities about the need for full practice authority. The resources on our legislative page will continue to be great tools as we continue to work together toward full practice authority.

 

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AONP Raises Awareness of Full Practice Authority

Posted By Administration, Friday, April 28, 2017

As this year’s legislative session nears its end, AONP leadership would like to take this opportunity to extend thanks to all who helped support our bill for full practice authority, House Bill 1013.

Whether you made calls or sent emails to legislators, spoke on behalf of full practice authority to your neighbors, or joined us at the Capitol for our Legislative Day, all of your efforts were greatly appreciated and certainly made a difference.

It’s true that this legislative session did not turn out the way we had hoped as HB 1013 failed to get a hearing in the Senate, but we consider our progress this year a great success. The bill passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives by a 72-20, bipartisan vote and we are encouraged by the victory. The success shows how popular the measure was among lawmakers and their constituents. This legislative session dramatically raised the public’s awareness of full practice authority. Along with awareness, public support of full practice authority increased greatly. Although the measure did not become law, huge progress was made.

This session, AONP worked to garner more than 100 news stories and opinion pieces in papers across the state, including several stories and supportive op-eds in the state’s largest paper, The Oklahoman. We also had numerous television stories in both the Oklahoma City and Tulsa markets. Here’s a small sample of stories that ran across the state.

The Oklahoman op-ed published January 19

Tahlequah Daily Press article published February 14

Grand Lake News op-ed published January 30

The Oklahoman article published March 2

The Lawton Constitution article published February 2

KOCO story from February 8

The Oklahoman op-ed published February 10

The Journal Record article published March 17

Hospital administrators, AARP Oklahoma, the Oklahoma chapter of Americans for Prosperity, and even some physicians showed their support. A tele-town hall hosted by AARP Oklahoma drew more than 6,000 attendees who were able to learn more about the issue.

As we have seen in other states, gaining full practice authority can be a multi-year process. Momentum for full practice authority continues to grow as more people learn about the issue, and the work accomplished this year will pay dividends down the road.

Over the next few months, nurse practitioners can help further the cause by talking to friends, neighbors and local civic groups about the issue, building additional support and correcting any misinformation. We look forward to continuing our efforts to gain full practice authority in Oklahoma.

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The Oklahoman Encourages Yen to Hear Measure Increasing Health Care Access

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 5, 2017

On Saturday, the state’s largest newspaper encouraged Sen. Ervin Yen to hear HB 1013, which would improve access to health care for all Oklahomans by removing needless financial barriers and outdated regulations that limit nurse practitioners in our state. Editorial writers at The Oklahoman cited the measure’s broad support in the House of Representatives and its merit in tackling a real problem that affects many Oklahomans.

The Oklahoman wrote:

The Oklahoma Association of Nurse Practitioners is worried about the future of a bill that would help its members. House Bill 1013 seeks to give full practice authority to nurse practitioners and advance practice registered nurses. Presently, those nurses must have a collaborative agreement with a physician to provide health services. The agreements are costly, but nursing officials say they provide little real benefit to patients. The House voted 72-20 in favor of HB 1013, but the practitioners' group says it may not be given a hearing in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Our hope is that even if he opposes the bill, committee chairman Sen. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City, will allow it to be heard prior to the April 13 deadline. This is a substantive issue that merits consideration by his committee and potentially by the full Senate.

Currently, nurse practitioners have full practice authority in 22 states, the District of Columbia and in veterans and military facilities across the country.

To read the editorial on The Oklahoman’s website, click here and scroll down.

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Oklahomans Want Greater Access to Health Care

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Last week, more than 6,000 Oklahomans took part in a tele-town hall sponsored by AARP Oklahoma to learn more about House Bill 1013 and full practice authority for nurse practitioners.

That level of engagement shouldn’t be surprising. A poll conducted by SoonerPoll found that 86.7 percent of respondents support allowing nurse practitioners to put their full education and training to work in caring for Oklahomans.

The popular support for nurse practitioners is also reflected in the Oklahoma House of Representatives’ 72-20 vote in favor of HB 1013. Legislators from across the state and the political spectrum — Republicans and Democrats, urban, rural and suburban lawmakers — voted to give Oklahomans increased access to health care.

HB 1013 also has support from professionals throughout the health care industry, including hospital administrators and doctors.

Simply put, the more people learn about nurse practitioners and the barriers they face when caring for Oklahomans, the more they favor HB 1013. 

Earlier this year, South Dakota became the 22nd state to grant full practice authority to nurse practitioners.  The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs gave full practice authority to NPs working in its facilities late last year.

It’s time to do away with antiquated regulations that require nurse practitioners to sign superficial “collaborative” agreements with a doctor. Those agreements can cost NPs thousands of dollars a month, offer no benefits to patients and unnecessarily restrict consumer choice and access to care.

Unfortunately, despite popular support, HB 1013 may not even receive a committee hearing in the state Senate. That is why it’s more important now than ever for Oklahomans who support modernizing our health care laws to contact their state senators.

Contact your state senators, tell them you support HB 1013 and ask that the bill receive a committee hearing. If you don’t know who represents you in the Oklahoma State Senate, click here.

HB 1013 is a simple and common-sense step toward improving health care access for all Oklahomans. Call your state senator today and make a difference in the lives of your friends and neighbors who lack access to affordable, quality health care.

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HB 1013 Gains Momentum

Posted By Administration, Friday, March 10, 2017
Momentum is building behind HB 1013, which would let nurse practitioners put their full education and training to use caring for Oklahomans. The measure passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives last week and is waiting on a hearing in a Senate committee.

That momentum isn’t surprising. A large majority of Oklahomans supports the idea, according to a poll conducted by AARP Oklahoma.

The poll, released in January 2016, asked 410 likely voters, “Do you support or oppose allowing nurse practitioners, who have advanced training, to serve as the primary or acute care provider of record for a patient?” In response, 86.7% said they support allowing a nurse practitioner to operate with full practice authority.

The truth is, Oklahomans want better access to quality, affordable health care. Too many Oklahomans drive long distances and wait days for appointments. It’s not just about the inconvenience of long drives; it’s a problem that harms the health of our residents.

Some opponents of HB 1013 have argued it would create a “two-tier” health care system. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A number of studies have looked at the health outcomes of patients who see physicians vs. those who see nurse practitioners. Those studies overwhelmingly concluded that nurse practitioners have patient outcomes equivalent to those of doctors.

The National Governors Association reviewed the evidence and wrote, “None of the studies in NGA’s literature review raise concerns about the quality of care offered by NPs. Most studies showed that NP-provided care is comparable to physician-provided care on several process and outcome measures. Moreover, the studies suggest that NPs may provide improved access to care.”

The truth is that Oklahoma already has a two-tier health care system. HB 1013 is a step toward addressing that. Sixty-four of Oklahoma’s 77 counties are designated as primary care shortage areas and our state ranks 49th in physician-to-patient ratio. Our state ranks 46th in health overall. Oklahoma needs more health care providers.

HB 1013 is hardly a radical idea. Just last month South Dakota became the 22nd state to authorize nurse practitioners to work to the full extent of their education and training. HB 1013 is a simple, common-sense step forward in addressing the provider shortage. 

Oklahomans deserve the same consumer choice and access to care that residents of nearly half the states already enjoy. If you agree, please contact your state Senator and ask them to support HB 1013.
 

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Legislative Day Leads to House Success

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 2, 2017

 

We’ve cleared the next hurdle on the track to full practice authority! HB 1013 passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on March 1 by a 72-20 margin. That success was due in no small part to your hard work and all those who made the time to visit legislators during our annual Legislative Day at the Capitol. Thank you!

On Feb. 14, several dozen NPs and APRNs attended and engaged with legislators to explain and advocate for this legislation. Attendees heard from speakers including Sen. AJ Griffin, who is the Senate author of House Bill 1013. AONP President Toni Pratt-Reid and AONP Executive Director Benny Vanatta shared an update of our progress and the status of HB 1013.

We also heard from Mary Overall, a member of AARP Oklahoma’s Executive Council and a retired registered nurse and former CEO for Central Oklahoma Carelink, who noted, “The role of the advanced practice nurse is important. You are a leader and an advocate in seeing that Oklahomans get the care that they need.” The AARP also had several volunteers out talking to legislators and supporting the measure.

Our legislative day at the Capitol garnered news coverage on both Oklahoma City and Tulsa TV stations, and the day was covered in newspapers across the state. We are hopeful that this momentum will continue to grow as the legislative session continues this spring!

Don’t let up because there is still work to be done. Our attention now turns to the state Senate. If you haven’t yet spoken with your state senators, take some time to engage today. Our blog about preparing for the legislative session includes tips for connecting with your legislators and information about other AONP resources to utilize. When you call their office, be sure to request a return call and offer to answer questions or address any concerns. We hope you will continue to advocate for increased access to health care for all Oklahomans! 

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Full Practice Authority Would Benefit All Oklahomans

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, January 18, 2017

This year, the Association of Oklahoma Nurse Practitioners is proud to be working with Rep. Josh Cockroft on legislation that will improve access to quality health care for all Oklahomans without any cost to state taxpayers.

House Bill 1013, sponsored by Rep. Cockroft, would allow nurse practitioners (NPs) to practice to the full extent of their education and prescribe medications consistent with their training. This would give Oklahomans in rural areas and across the state more health care choices for themselves and their families. The measure would do away with the antiquated requirement that NPs pay for “collaborative agreements” with a physician, even though little or no collaboration actually occurs.

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia already grant full practice authority to nurse practitioners. In fact, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recently granted full practice authority to nurse practitioners working in V.A. facilities, trusting them to do their part in caring for the heroes who have served our country.

The benefits to Oklahoma are obvious. Of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, 64 are designated as primary care Health Professional Shortage Areas, state Health Department statistics show. Our state is ranked 49th in physician-to-patient ratio. That means Oklahomans in rural areas are driving long distances and spending hours in waiting rooms for primary care services.

We can do better.

A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who is prepared, through advanced education, including completion of a master’s or doctoral degree, and clinical training, to provide a wide range of preventative and health care services.

In Oklahoma, nurse practitioners practice with an independent license. They can provide physical examinations, diagnose and treat acute and chronic problems, interpret laboratory results and X-rays, provide training and supportive counseling on the prevention of illness, and refer patients to other health professionals as needed.

Nurse practitioners are also educated to prescribe and manage medications, though NPs in Oklahoma must pay for a collaborative agreement with a physician to do so, even though the physician does not review patient charts or supervise care.

Nothing in HB 1013 would change nurse practitioners’ scope of practice. What the bill would do is cut through red tape that limits the number of NPs practicing in Oklahoma and places an unnecessary financial burden on the ones who do.

There is a health care crisis in rural Oklahoma, but the legislature can take action this year to bring quality health care closer to the Oklahomans who need it.

Thousands of Oklahomans already trust nurse practitioners for their primary health care needs. Lawmakers can make this option even more readily available to all residents of our state. Full practice authority means shorter drives and less wait time, greater consumer choice, less government red tape and, most of all, a healthier Oklahoma.

Please call or email your state representative today and ask them to support, or even better, to co-author HB 1013. If you’re unsure who represents you at the state Capitol, you can find out here.

 

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Gearing Up for the Upcoming Legislative Session

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 27, 2016

 

The legislative session commences in a little more than a month. Session officially begins on Feb. 6, but there is much we can do before then. Rep. Josh Cockroft has already requested that a bill seeking full practice authority be drafted, so now is the time to begin talking to legislators about full practice authority. Personal connections are key to our success in achieving our legislative goals in 2017.

Don’t underestimate your influence as you connect with legislators. Legislators care about the issues raised by their constituents. Connecting with your legislators in person will make a difference. Before contacting your legislators, take time to research and learn about them, their voting records and their committee assignments. You can find your legislators’ contact information and background information on the Oklahoma State Legislature website.

The FPA toolkit for NPs is a great resource as you prepare to meet with legislators. The toolkit on the website includes tips for contacting your legislators, a white paper and talking points for full practice authority, a public speaking guide and PowerPoint presentation, a full practice authority infographic and more.

Last month we shared the full video of Katherine Hoebelheinrich, MS, APRN, presenting at the AONP Annual Conference. Watching her presentation is another great way to prepare for engaging legislators. She shared her firsthand experience of how nurse practitioners in Nebraska worked to secure full practice authority and she encouraged Oklahoma’s nurse practitioners to tell our stories to reveal the struggles NPs and their patients face.

We encourage you to establish relationships with your legislators now. Spending time sharing your story and illustrating the important role NPs play in their communities is the primary way to grow support during the forthcoming legislative session.

We will keep members updated throughout the next few months and during the legislative session via email and on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). We would love to hear about your successes engaging with your legislators! You can connect with us and share your stories through the contact page on our website. 

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