Keynote speaker Rear Admiral (RADM) Susan Orsega, MSN, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN provided an inspirational speech at the American Academy of Nurse Practitioner’s (AANP) 2018 National Conference in Denver this past week. Her speech was titled “What to Pack in Your Parachute: How Can NP’s Contribute to the Culture of Practice in the Nation’s Health Care System”? RADM Orsega leads the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service (Corps) Nurse Professional Affairs, and advises the Office of the Surgeon General and the Department of Health and Human Services on the recruitment, assignment, deployment, retention, and career development of Corps nurse professionals.
RADM challenged NP’s to ” think of one thing you can do for population health and health disparity, whether it is addressing the opioid epidemic or obesity” and emphasized the importance of shifting from disease management to disease prevention. She called on NP’s to be public health quarterbacks, to lead, guide and think broadly about their roles. “If not now, then when?” and provided 5 leadership skills to embrace and pack in their parachutes.
- She stressed the importance of working in interconnected teams, stating that “we must recognize that health care today is a place where learning must be constant and an interdisciplinary approach must be abundant.” Coordinated, sustained communication within and between teams is paramount. Recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of teams and ensuring sustained communication increases synergy and the likelihood of mission success.
- Pulling from her experiences during 9/11 working at ground zero, RADM Orsega discussed the importance of having “self-awareness” when in complex, unpredictable or vulnerable situations. “Establishing self-awareness and working with the ambiguity leads you to successfully impact patient care in a multitude of settings”. Being flexible and adaptive to the conditions on the ground without pre-conceived expectations improves our ability to be successful.
- Sharing knowledge and resources in an increasingly globally connected world. RADM Orsega emphasized that “as globalization progressively connects and impacts the health of people around the world, collaborative partnerships provide mutual advantages for sharing knowledge and resources to address local and global relevant scientific and public health questions”.
- Be public health diplomats. RADM Orsega encouraged NP’s to become cultural competent in the their local areas of practice. Becoming culturally competent improves the health of individuals and communities, increases the trust and effectiveness of Nurse Practitioner initiatives. RADM Orsega added ” every individual represents a voice from different cultures, it’s about bringing together these voices”.
- Be situationally aware and keep alert, RADM Orsega emphasized ” be the Nurse Practitioner detective”. Be prepared and on guard for the next infectious disease outbreak.
In conclusion RADM Orsega called Nurse Practitioners to take action to take a leading role in shaping the nations’ health and wellness. “We can be the linchpin in improving health across the nation and around the world”. It is time for Nurse Practitioners to move mountains. We can do it!