I am back from Chicago where the VA had its APRN conference and I did a presentation to the group on the APRN Consensus Model. Over 250 VA APRNs were present at the conference.
A vast majority of those attending were Nurse Practitioners but a strong CNS group was represented in far greater numbers on a per capita basis. There are approximately 4200 NPs in the VA and 525 CNSs. There were approximatley 30 CNS at the conference meaning a strong percentage showing for the small but mighty group. I love CNSs! We are always actively engaged and demonstrating our value repeatedly by doing presenations and putting together posters to share the good work we are doing.
My presenation was right before lunch...almost as tough as being right after lunch...so I was the only thing standing between the attendees and their lunch break. In spite of that there were some really good questions and great comments that came from the group. I also ended up with a long line of folks who did not get a chance to ask their questions before we broke for lunch...good questions from concerned individuals.
The themes for the NP group were fairly consistent in regards to specialty versus subspecialty and how will they now be called when the full implementation of the model is in place. Some were asking about going back to school and noted that they were either too old or too young not to go back.
Questions from the CNSs ranged broadly from issues with certification examinations and what to do...when will the core exam be coming back...should I go back to school (similar concerns to the NPs)...and recognition of specialty when it is not identified in the model. There were some very passionate psych CNSs who were disconcerted with the decision by the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) and the International Society of Psychiatric Nurses (ISPN) to move toward the NP degree only...eliminating the CNS option from future educational programs.
These are consistent issues that have been coming up for a number of years now. I am hopeful that the NACNS board members will read the blog and provide some responses for these engaged individuals who are asking. Also, the movement was clear in the VA...we are moving toward the issuance of federal supremacy and the full engagment of the APRN Consensus Model...the journey has begun and there will be many questions that will arise as the nooks and crannies of the model are examined in the implementation with the VA system.
As I stated at the conference in Chicago, it is my hope that the staff of the VA will both be an example of how it can work, and will be advocates within their individual states as each state enacts the elements of the APRN Consensus Model. We can do it....and we will....