You currently serve as the chair for the Immunization SIG. What motivates you to serve your professional association?
While in my nurse practitioner program I had excellent mentors that worked tirelessly to help me achieve my goals. When I graduated, I was well prepared to be successful in the nurse practitioner profession. Their example taught me to be proactive and involved to help further the profession and engage with colleagues. I have learned that I am a more effective patient advocate and a better practitioner because of the relationships I have built through networking within NAPNAP. This knowledge, in addition to the many opportunities that arise from serving, are the driving force for me to be actively involved in NAPNAP
At the 38th National Conference on Pediatric Health Care, you won NAPNAP’s Shuren Grassroots Advocacy Award. What prompted you to first become involved in advocacy?
Nurse practitioners working in pediatrics possess a passion to protect the health of children; immunizations play a major role in that protection. In 2015, I learned that the school my children attend had the lowest number of adequately immunized children in the district. This news was surprising to me, with further research I learned that immunization exemptions in Utah were on a steady rise. I resolved to advocate for childhood immunizations because it is a moral and ethical responsibility to protect the most vulnerable among us. I felt a responsibility as a nurse practitioner, with my knowledge and expertise, to engage and teach legislators about this important issue and the need for change.
You worked with Utah legislators to introduce a child health bill about immunization. What lessons did you take away from that experience?
I learned several invaluable lessons working with legislators. Before running this bill I had a surface-level understanding of the legislative process. I now know firsthand the complexities and fluidity of the process. For example, before a bill is introduced the language in the bill is meticulously scoured for precise correctness. Within seconds after the introduction of the bill, the language can be changed by any legislature. Thus, it is vital you have a very clear understanding of your goals for the bill and that your sponsor is trustworthy and loyal to that goal. It is equally important to understand the issues in favor of, and arguments against the bill and to have formulated your responses accordingly. Finally, running a bill is unlike planning for a major event, it is a slow and steady process that evolves over time. Patience and passion will help you succeed in that process.
What would you say to fellow members who have yet to get involved in child health advocacy because they find it overwhelming?
The root of child health advocacy is education. As nurse practitioners, we already have the knowledge and experience educating patients and families. The next step is sharing that knowledge and experience with lawmakers. You should get to know your legislatures; it is the most effective way you can advocate for child health. The first step is easy, make a phone call and set up a meeting to discuss what your lawmaker is doing for you as a constituent. When you show interest in what your legislatures are doing, they respect and listen to you. Tell them you want to be a resource for them concerning child health issues. One meeting can open up several doors in the future to assist you in child health advocacy.
When you’re not being a rockstar pediatric-focused APRN, what do you enjoy doing?
I love spending time with my family. Utah is the perfect location for three of my favorite activities, camping, hiking, and skiing. I also enjoy a good nap and delicious food.