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Promote Health Equity by Giving Your Community a Boost
By Alex Fernandez, BA, AANP Marketing Content Specialist
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, organizations are banding together to promote and encourage COVID-19 vaccinations — including booster shots — for minority populations disproportionately affected by the virus. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) has announced a new campaign entitled, “Give Your Community a Boost!” and is focused on providing resources to improve vaccination rates and combat COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. In addition, the COVID-19 Vaccine Education and Equity Project has released various resources related to their “Count Me In” vaccine campaign to help create an open dialogue regarding vaccinations.
The American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) is proud to stand by its partners in the health care field and would like to take this opportunity to share recommendations and resources for supporting health equity and vaccinations in the communities that nurse practitioners (NPs) serve.
To better comprehend the struggles for health equity and the disparities currently being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, one must first become familiar with social determinants of health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), social determinants of health (SDoH) are defined as the “conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes.” These can fall into five key categories: quality and access to health care, access to quality education, social and community contexts, economic stability and one’s own neighborhood. Since the onset of the pandemic, many studies have come to show how these disparities are reflected in COVID-19 statistics. If you are looking to better familiarize yourself with health disparities stemming from the pandemic, please review the CDC’s guide to COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities.
The spread of misinformation regarding the COVID-19 virus and vaccines has been characterized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an “infodemic” that poses a significant threat to the health of the nation. In order to dispel COVID-19 misinformation and help rebuild trust in the health care community, the HHS Office of the Surgeon General has released a collection of Health Misinformation Reports and Publications. Be part of the solution by opening a dialogue with your patients, dispelling misinformation and offering resources that can help address SDoH. Visit the AANP CE Center to complete Seeing the Big Picture: Integrating Social Determinants of Health Into Your Clinical Practice and help improve health equity and outcomes for patients. If you'd like to learn more about the reasons for vaccine hesitancy in patient populations, then listen to the latest podcast episode of NP Pulse: The Voice of the Nurse Practitioner®, which is on combating common COVID-19 vaccination myths.
As patients continue to seek guidance from their NPs on how to navigate this pandemic, it is important that you stay up to date on all the latest information regarding COVID-19 cases, vaccines and recommendations. In order to make information about the virus more accessible to people in non-English speaking communities, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released multilingual COVID-19 toolkits in six languages. Utilize these toolkits to help communicate important information to your patients in minority communities, and advise your English speaking patients to continue checking the official CDC recommendations for ways to protect themselves and others from the virus that causes COVID-19. You can visit the COVID-19 Recommendations for Nurse Practitioners webpage for the latest COVID-19 statistics and resources.
Breaking Barriers: A History of Mary Eliza Mahoney
By Heather Kays, AANP Marketing Content Specialist
There is a long and storied history to the emergence of the nurse practitioner (NP) role, which includes many women of color who were at the forefront of the movement. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) would like to reflect on the significant contributions made by nursing pioneer Mary Eliza Mahoney.
Although there were Black women who worked as nurses before her, Mahoney became the first Black woman to graduate from a nursing program and the first to earn a professional nursing license. She was one of 42 students admitted into the New England Hospital for Women and Children Training School for Nurses (the nation’s first professional nursing program) in Boston, Massachusetts. Mahoney is believed to be one of only three people in her class to complete the challenging 16-month program in 1878. After graduation, Mahoney remained in Boston and became a private-duty nurse.
When she was in her teens, Mahoney knew that she wanted to become a nurse. To work toward that goal, Mahoney began working at the New England Hospital for Women and Children. The hospital provided health care only to women and their children. The facility was also noteworthy because it had an all-female staff of physicians. Mahoney worked there for 15 years in several roles. She worked at the hospital as a janitor, a cook and a washer woman. She also had the opportunity to work as a nurse’s aide, which gave her the chance to learn a great deal about the nursing profession.
Mary Ella Chayer, a former professor of nursing at the Teachers College at Columbia University, wrote of Mahoney in 1954: “This nurse was an outstanding student of her time, an expert and tender practitioner, an exemplary citizen, and an untiring worker in both local and national organizations. She was a sound builder for the future, a builder of foundations on which others to follow may safely depend.”
In addition to Mahoney’s extraordinary personal career, she is also remembered for her contributions to professional organizations. She was an early member of what would later become the American Nurses Association (ANA). In 1908, Mahoney co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) with Adah B. Thoms. Mahoney was a prominent advocate for equality in nursing education, as well as a passionate supporter of women’s suffrage. When the 19th Amendment passed in 1920, Mahoney became one of the first women in Boston to register to vote — at the age of 76.
Ten years after Mahoney’s death, NACGN established the Mary Mahoney Award in 1936. The award continued to be given after NACGN merged with ANA in 1951. Today, the Mary Mahoney Award is presented biennially for significant contributions to the opening and advancement of equal opportunities in nursing for members of minority groups. Mahoney was inducted into the Nursing Hall of Fame and the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
Efforts to champion equity and diversity within the health care community continue to this day. Thanks to pioneers like Mahoney, opportunities have been increased for Black and female nurses — increasing representation and access to quality care for all patients. Yet, work remains to be done. Diversifying the health care workforce is one way to help bolster health equity and eliminate biases.
AANP is committed to improving health equity and seeing that diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are present within the association and represented throughout the NP community. Learn more about AANP’s DEI activities and how you can become a champion for the patients you serve. Consider joining the Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion AANP Community to engage in conversations with other NPs who share a passion for all aspects of DEI, and be sure to visit the AANP CE Center to access continuing education (CE) courses on the topic. By learning more about ways historical and current barriers impact health care, you will be better equipped to advance DEI within the NP role and increase health equity for patients.
The Power of Art
By Heather Kays, AANP Marketing Content Specialist
Art speaks to us in a way other forms of communication and expression do not. With the weight of that statement in mind, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) chose talented artist and motivational speaker Erik Wahl as the opening general session keynote speaker for the 2022 AANP National Conference, taking place in Orlando, Florida in-person June 21-26 or online through July 27.
Wahl has tailored his presentation to fit the interests of nurse practitioners (NPs) everywhere.
“I am customizing my entire show for AANP,” Wahl said, during an interview with AANP. “I have been looking forward to this show from the time we booked it several years ago (pre-COVID-19). I have been counting down the days until show time. These NPs have been the lifeblood of our country and a source of healing and hope in every city and community for the last three years. I want to not only inspire them — I want to speak personally and directly to them and re-remind them of the heroism of their work.”
Wahl said his objective in speaking to AANP members is to highlight, “The sacrifice [NPs] have made and the depth of our appreciation for their calling.”
When asked why he became an artist, Wahl said, “I found art to be an inspired channel of expression. Both for myself, in exploring my own personal introspection, as well as an outward expression of being an entertaining way to share intellectual content with large crowds.”
When Wahl presets to a large crowd, like he will at the upcoming national conference, he has one goal in mind.
“Helping others to unlock and unleash their own natural fountain of creativity,” said Wahl, adding that this is the most rewarding aspect of what he does.
Wahl has extensive experience in motivational speaking for many different groups over the years and he stressed the importance of innovation and creativity in health care, saying he hopes to communicate these vital messages to attendees at the conference. One takeaway Wahl hopes AANP members who hear his presentation will walk away with is the ability to, “Think differently. Unthink to achieve superior levels of performance.
“Innovation and change are important in health care because they are baked into the foundation of what makes health care successful,” explained Wahl. “We need to learn to navigate the uncertainty of challenging the status quo. We need to embrace new ideas, new technologies and new ways of communicating to elevate health care into the future. Of course, it will involve uncertainty from time to time, but growth and comfort simply cannot co-exist.”
Wahl said his presentation for AANP holds a significant and powerful meaning for him regarding the way he feels about NPs.
“I want to recognize their work, inspire their minds and nourish their souls,” said Wahl. “Art has a uniquely amazing and unifying ability to express what words and logic simply cannot achieve.”
Attend the Conference and Hear Erik Wahl’s Exciting Presentation
Join AANP in sunny Orlando, Florida, for the largest NP conference in the United States! Attend for a week filled with continuing education (CE), exclusive keynote speakers, legislative and policy updates, hands-on workshops, lively exhibitors and much more. Plus, you'll have limitless opportunities for networking and fun with NPs of every specialty and practice setting while you earn up to 38 contact hours (CH) of CE credit. Registrants for the in-person conference will also receive access to the 2022 AANP National Conference on-demand package at no extra charge, which includes up to 80 CH of CE credit! Access to the on-demand package ends on July 27, so register today to take full advantage of this educational opportunity.