23rd Annual Conference — A Success! – AONP

23rd Annual Conference — A Success!

The Association of Oklahoma Nurse Practitioners wrapped up a successful 23rd annual conference on Oct. 20 with a call for NPs to continue their advocacy for increased access to health care for Oklahomans.

“You are your own best advocate,” said Peter Jeffries, AARP national engagements director. “Go into meetings with legislators and tell your story about why we need full practice authority in Oklahoma. Access to care is critical, especially in small towns, rural communities and underserved areas.

In all, nearly 400 nurse practitioners and students from Oklahoma and surrounding states attended the conference at the Sheraton-Reed Conference Center in Midwest City.

An Oklahoma House measure introduced in the 2017 legislative session, House Bill 1013 by Rep. Josh Cockroft and Sen. AJ Griffin, would have done away with the outdated requirements that restrict access to care from NPs.

“We are so grateful as lawmakers for the impact you have on everyday Oklahoma,” Cockroft told the conference. “There are tremendous challenges facing Oklahoma, particularly in health care and access to care, but I can breathe easier knowing you’re out there doing your work caring for Oklahomans.”

HB 1013 passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on a 72-20 vote, but failed to receive a hearing in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. That measure is still active and could be taken up in the 2018 session.

Griffin praised the nurse practitioners for their work in communities around the state.

“Nursing is a special calling,” she said. “Thank you for what you do for your neighbors and your communities. I hope we can make legislative changes to allow you to work at the top of your skill level. Rural Oklahoma needs you. We need you and your expertise.”

The conference also featured workshops and seminars on a range of health care topics, including respiratory infection, insulin therapy, sports medicine, infectious disease and more.

AONP President Toni Pratt-Reid said she is optimistic looking ahead to the 2018 legislative session.

“Each legislative session, we learn a little bit more about the legislative process, and the public and lawmakers learn a little bit more about what nurse practitioners do each day and how we can do more to care for Oklahomans,” Pratt-Reid said. “Our annual conference is a great opportunity to share what we’ve learned in the past year, and lay the ground work for the next year.

“We’re energized and ready to share our story with legislators and the public to keep building support for a measure that would increase access to health care for everyone in the state,” she continued. “Everyone in Oklahoma would benefit from full practice authority, and more people are starting to understand that every day. We can increase access to affordable care for Oklahomans without spending a dime of taxpayer money. It’s a win-win.”