For more than half a century, NPs have held many different titles and positions across the country. They are recognized nationwide as leaders, innovators, stewards and advocates for the health of the communities they serve. Known for having the “Best Job That Helps People,” NPs are the providers of choice for millions of Americans seeking high-quality health care — blending their comprehensive knowledge with a personal touch and evidence-based care. As demand swells for mental health and primary care services, a new generation of NP students joins thousands of established NPs to help increase patients’ access to care. NPs continue stepping up to advance accessible, person-centered, equitable, high-quality health care for diverse communities through practice, education, advocacy, research and leadership. For that reason, the UF College of Nursing joins AANP, alongside a grateful nation, in recognizing the one title inherent to all NPs — hero. This NP Week, we recognize that across all clinical focus areas, practice settings and communities, NPs are heroes in health care.
In particular, Anne Perantoni, APRN, who is a Gator Nursing pediatrics preceptor at the Florida Department of Health in Bradford County. Perantoni shares what NP Week and the role of an NP means to her:
• As an experienced health care provider, what does National Nurse Practitioner Week mean to you, and how have you seen the role of nurse practitioners evolve over the years?
I perceive National Nurse Practitioner Week as a recognition of the substantial contributions NPs have made to the field of medicine. It honors the impact we have had on patient lives and signifies the evolving nature of the NP role. Over the years, the NP role has shifted towards increased independence, with more practitioners establishing private practices. Additionally, there has been a notable expansion into acute care settings, transforming NPs into integral members of both inpatient and outpatient medical teams.
• How have you witnessed nurse practitioners positively impacting patient care and outcomes in your clinical setting?
The educational support NPs provide to patients and their families is life-saving. NPs, with their personal touch and compassionate approach, establish a familial connection with patients, leading to greater compliance and positive outcomes. This connection remains a crucial aspect of patient care and contributes significantly to overall well-being.
• In your opinion, what makes a nurse practitioner a “hero in health care,” and can you share any personal experiences that highlight this?
A nurse practitioner’s heroism in health care is defined by qualities such as listening, therapeutic touch, and compassion. Maintaining a personal connection with patients, especially during challenging times like the COVID-19 pandemic, is essential. Personal experiences include patients choosing nursing and NP careers inspired by positive role models, and former patients returning as NP students, emphasizing the lasting impact of a compassionate approach.
• What advice would you give to nurse practitioner students who are just starting their clinical practice and may face challenges in their roles?
Be compassionate and attentive. Treat each patient with respect, considering them the most important person at that moment. Amid technological advancements, prioritize human connection—holding hands, empathizing, and showing care. The rewards of building trust with patients over time far exceed the challenges. Listening to patients and their families proves to be a powerful diagnostic tool, fostering positive outcomes.
• How do you think preceptors can support and mentor the next generation of nurse practitioners in their journey to full practice and excellence in patient care?
Preceptors play a pivotal role by providing robust clinical experiences, exposing students to the realities of medical practice. Emphasizing the importance of intuition, practical training, and active listening, preceptors contribute to shaping well-rounded and competent practitioners. They should instill the understanding that not all aspects of medical practice can be found in textbooks or online resources.
• What are some important advocacy efforts and initiatives that preceptors and experienced health care professionals can be part of to advance the role of nurse practitioners in health care?
All NPs and experienced health care professionals should stay informed about legislation impacting their practice and profession. Advocacy efforts should focus on highlighting the positive impact of NPs in the medical field and advocating for the continuation of independent practice and professional autonomy. Continuous lobbying for these aspects is essential for the advancement of the NP role in health care.