Reflections: The Career Journey of a Nurse Practitioner

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APRN Practice Perspective: LaDonna Hart, MSN, APRN, NP-C

By LaDonna Hart, MSN, APRN, NP-C, President, Nebraska Nurse Practitioners

My journey as a nurse practitioner (NP) started when my undergraduate instructor asked me to apply to the new Family Nurse Practitioner program out of Kearney, Nebraska. I graduated and began my RN career; however, the dream for advanced practice never left my mind. In 1998, I became a Family Nurse Practitioner. 

Over these 19 years, I have had the honor to work with many different clinicians in a variety of health care settings, including women’s health, family practice, urgent care, and retail settings. 

Scope of Practice

In 2013, I was elected President of the Nebraska Nurse Practitioners (NNP), the state’s most prominent professional NP organization. In 2015, NNP, along with policymakers and stakeholders, passed LB107 and became the 20th state to have Full Practice Authority for NPs. This legislation is changing the landscape of health care and impacting the access to professional clinicians and services in our communities. As a result of this legislation, owning a NP practice in Nebraska has become a more realistic possibility and just one of many opportunities for NPs.

Communities in Need

Patients benefit from our unique perspective and approach to health prevention and disease management. Earlier this year I opened Hart Family Health PC, a NP-owned and operated medical practice in Lincoln. Hart Family Health joins many independently owned NP practices located throughout the state. Practices such as those in North Platte and Sutherland, Nebraska, reach our most rural and vulnerable populations. Over 90% of counties in Nebraska are in a health care provider shortage area for psychiatric-mental health services, and NPs are a highly qualified workforce capable of helping to alleviate this shortage. 

Advocates for a Profession

Being an advanced practice nurse requires me to be engaged and committed to lifelong learning. In May 2016, I graduate with my Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, having focused my scholarly project on the political astuteness and political participation of nurse practitioners in Nebraska.

The future is bright for NPs. There are over 1,200 NPs licensed in Nebraska and over 170,000 credentialed and practicing across the United States. As Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, we are advocates not only for individuals but also for the health of populations. When I reflect upon my journey, it becomes evident that it is really the journey of our profession.

I am one NP in a choir of voices, singing the same song and reflecting on where we were, where we are, and where we need to be. I am on an incredible ride; I can’t wait to see what happens next. Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments at president@nebraskanp.com.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Kaplan University.

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