VOLUNTEERING: NANN MEMBER SHARES HER SKILL AT HOME AND ABROAD
“I wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember” is what longtime NANN and NANNP member Tracy Heaberlin, MSN, RN, NNP, recalls. A graduate of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in 1985, Tracy always dreamed of working with children. After graduation, Tracy was given the opportunity to work with babies and families and never looked back.
Tracy has had a variety of experiences in her career. Since obtaining a master's degree and neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) certification from the University of Colorado followed by a master's degree in business administration from Colorado State University, she has worked in level II to level IV neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) from Alaska to the rural mountain town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Tracy now works as a NNP for Children's Hospital Colorado, practicing in a level III NICU in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Volunteerism has played an important role in Tracy's career. Addressing volunteerism and what excites her, Tracy says “I love that I have had so many opportunities to support perinatal care in so many ways.” A long-time advocate for family-centered care, Tracy became involved in the Colorado Perinatal Care Council (CPCC) while developing a low-volume, high-acuity special care nursery in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The CPCC works to enhance the delivery of perinatal care services throughout the state of Colorado and welcomes input from families and healthcare providers. Tracy became a hospital representative to the council in 1998.
After 13 years of involvement on the council, Tracy was appointed to the council's Executive Committee. “The CPCC's current project is creating a state collaborative for quality measures focused on implementing evidence-based medicine and striving for greater transparency among institutions,” Tracy says. “It is hoped that this project will improve Colorado's delivery of care in all regions of the state. Volunteering on the council has been a great professional and educational experience, exposing Tracy to other states' successes and her state's health policies. Her hope is that her work on the council serves to “engage those I work with in broadening their ideas of safe care while implementing evidence-based care and facilitating a shift in care models that both improve the family experience and decrease the overall cost of care.”
While in search of an international volunteering opportunity centered on children and families, Tracy learned of the concept of volunteer vacations and the organization, Global Volunteers. The vision and mission of Global Volunteers resonated with her. She explains that Global Volunteers “engages short-term volunteers on long-term projects to create, nurture, and sustain the well-being of the world's children so they can realize the full promise of their human potential.”
Tracy's first volunteer experience was caring for babies in an orphanage in Romania. Her most recent trips have been to St Lucia. Tracy works with mothers and their children aged 0 to 3 years in their homes to provide education, developmental stimulation, and support through a program called the St Lucia Project. Tracy explains Global Volunteers definition of the St Lucia Project:
The St Lucia Project plans to demonstrate that local people, with the assistance of short-term volunteers, can ensure that every young child receives the developmental assistance they need to thrive.
Over 30% of the island's people live in poverty. Recent global research shows that insufficient nutrition and persistent parasitic and diarrheal disease in developing countries like St Lucia adversely impact children's brain development, especially in the earliest years. Generations are affected, resulting in entire populations who struggle to develop their human potential. Global Volunteers works with community leaders in Anse la Raye, on the western coast of the island, to help deliver the 12 essential services to local families.
Tracy learned from her time in St Lucia that “babies are the same everywhere.” Their potential is limited by their health, nutrition, and stimulation. “I enjoy experiencing other cultures and knowing that in a short time my love, kindness, and support can make a difference in each life I touch.”
Summing up her experiences nd what they have taught her, Tracy reflects “my experiences in volunteering with families whose challenges seem insurmountable has helped me realize the power of love and an open heart.” Having a career that constantly presents professional challenges coupled with volunteering at home and abroad, Tracy takes away a simple insight. “A helping hand, a warm smile, and a meaningful hug have amazing healing powers,” she says.
New Publications for the NNP
NANNP strives to improve care for neonates, infants, and their families by providing a forum for NNPs and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) on clinical and professional issues, education, advocacy, and research.
NANN and NANNP give NNPs and APRNs a voice by publishing guidelines, white papers, and position statements on timely and important topics in the neonatal nursing field. NANNP recently released 3 publications on educational standards, NNP scope of practice, and the future of APRNs. The publications are free and available at http://www.nannp.org/publications.
NNP Education Standards
Professional accountability begins with ensuring the quality of educational preparation of nurse practitioners. Organizations within the broader category of advanced practice nursing are responsible for defining more specific standards of education for their own members. Thus, NANN and NANNP define the standards of education for the NNP. NANNP's Education Standards and Guidelines for NNP Programs discusses 6 minimum standards necessary for preparation of NNPs: NNP educational program, faculty and faculty organization, program leadership, curriculum, preceptors, and clinical sites. Each program standard includes background information and rationale for each standard. These standards are intended for use in conjunction with other accreditation or review tools for NNPs.
The Future of APRN Practice
Recently, NANN and NANNP have been monitoring aspects of neonatal advanced practice nursing and providing leadership and advocacy to address concerns related to workforce, education, competency, fatigue, safety, and scope of practice. The Future of Neonatal Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Practice (white paper) discusses current barriers within neonatal APRN practice as well as strategies to promote the longevity of the neonatal APRN.
The Role of APRNs
In previous years, NANN and NANNP have developed several policy statements on neonatal APRN workforce, education, competency, fatigue, safety, and scope of practice. The Advanced Practice Registered Nurse: Role, Preparation, and Scope of Practice position statement is a synthesis of previous efforts and discusses the role, preparation, and scope of practice and the neonatal APRN.
To learn more and to access these publications, visit http://www.nannp.org/publications.