I hope this message finds you well and that you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving. I wish you my personal best for the upcoming holiday season. Every year, Utah Nurse Practitioners (UNP) undergoes a change with the board of directors in some form or another. During our annual dinner, UNP has announced this change with your board of directors. This change has been updated on UNPs website. The next president slated was Daphne Solomon, our President-Elect. However, with Daphne leaving the state to pursue her next professional adventure, it became apparent that someone needed to replace the office. Daphne has asked me to fill her position and I agreed after careful consideration. I am grateful to you (the members of UNP) for your overwhelming support in this. I will do everything in my power to serve the members of UNP, and advance the nurse practitioner profession in our wonderful state of Utah.
We are fortunate to have wonderful teams in our pocket for UNP. Our legislative team has been hard at work protecting our practice. Foxley & Pignanelli (FoxPig), serving as our lobbyist, has done a wonderful job focusing our attention on bills that could potentially affect our practice. Cathy Harmston is our legislative chair and was instrumental in obtaining a grant from Pfizer for UNP. As many of you have seen, a survey was sent out to members of UNP a few months ago. The data collected from the survey was used as part of a presentation to the Health and Human Services Committee on Pharmaceutical Fail/Step Therapy and regarding HB 266. I will post the results of the survey on our website. David Skalka, our Immediate Past-President has agreed to be our legislative liaison, working closely with Cathy and FoxPig.
UNP is working with our legislature to remove the “consultation and referral” language from pain clinics. The “opioid-epidemic” has become a trigger-word in the capitol and those at the forefront of this, the pain clinics and their patients, have become victims of poor policy. President Trump has declared the opioid epidemic a “public health emergency” in October. Opioid related deaths has quadrupled since 1999, making opioid overdoses now the leading cause of death in America under the age of 50. However, nurse practitioners can help bring common sense back to legislation.
Nurse practitioners are an essential voice for legislatures to hear. Especially when you consider that clinics in rural parts of Utah are predominantly ran by nurse practitioners. Additionally, there are no nurse practitioners that hold legislative office. As a result, the passage of bills from the capitol have a tendency of being short sighted, leaving the nurse practitioner profession with little to no consideration. At the UNP annual dinner, many of you have asked me what you can do to help UNP. I will repeat what I have said that night. First and foremost, become familiar with your legislators. Go to www.le.utah.gov, find out who your legislators are and send an email to them. Introduce yourself as their “constituent” and a “nurse practitioner”. Tell your legislators that you will help guide them through this opioid epidemic. Utah’s website makes it very easy to contact them electronically. Additionally, come to UNPs Day at the Capitol on February 9th to be informed of what bills will be introduced in 2018. This is also an opportunity to meet with your local legislators in person. If you wish to take a more active role within UNP, please feel free to contact me, David Skalka or Cathy Harmston.
UNP also has an incredible education team. Amanda Al-Khudairi and Kim Bayless are co-chairs for the upcoming Pharmacology Conference. Be sure to save the date on our 25th Annual Utah Nurse Practitioners Pharmacology Conference, April 27th and 28th located at Park City’s Marriott. This conference continues to grow, with more participants last year than ever before, and has become widely recognized at a national level. Those of you who have attended this event understand why this is the case. Those of you who haven’t attended, be sure you make the effort to attend and see why this conference has become nationally recognized.
While at the Park City’s Marriott, be sure to attend Legislation Night on April 27th. During this event, leaders in legislative change mingle and speak to us. At last year's Legislation Night, we received incredible insight on how nurse practitioners received full practice authority in the VA system and in the State of New York. We also hold a raffle in which 100% of the proceeds are donated to UNPs legislative account. In order for UNP to pass bills and maintain a political voice money is required. UNP has been excellent stewards of the funds, but we still have lots of work ahead of us.
Our members understand we have lots of work to do and are supportive. Nurse practitioners join UNP for various reasons, but the vast majority recognize that our voice is stronger when united. The larger the membership the larger our voice. Please encourage your colleagues to join UNP. Members often find getting involved is a great way to meet amazing people who share your interests and goals. Infact, volunteers tend to get more out of the experience than they put in. I am optimistic for the future of nurse practitioners in Utah. Nurse practitioners have proven time and time again that we deliver high-quality care. I am proud to be a nurse practitioner and look forward to walk this journey with you.
Mike Vreeland, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC