For many of us, 2015 was a year filled with successes, accomplishments, joys and some conflicts and disappointments. I hope that you have many positive experiences and adventures to remember when you reflect on the events of the year. It is amazing that half of the decade from 2010 to 2020 is now over!
I spent New Year’s Eve working in the PICU overnight, and as always when working holidays, felt sad that I could not enjoy this celebration with my friends and family. Our unit was busy, but not long after I arrived, I was reminded how fortunate I am compared to the families I shared this night with, many of whom were facing serious healthcare challenges with children who have life-threatening illnesses. I was busy through the night, but stopped to watch the TV celebration in Times Square in the room of a child we care for regularly. He was on two pressors and ventilation support, but he still wore his party hat! He reminded me of the reason I was there, and I celebrated the beginning of 2016 thinking about the positive outcomes of the work we do. The privileges of being a pediatric nurse practitioner far outweigh the responsibilities and the schedule!
As I think about what I can do as a pediatric healthcare provider to best advocate for child health in 2016, I have to consider all health policy, not taking away from national initiatives, but also focusing on what is most beneficial to children in my home state of Delaware. State legislators have been on recess since Dec. 21, but many of them will convene in the next few weeks of January, an important time to make some resolutions about priorities for child health this new year!
Policy initiatives in 2016 will continue to involve nurse practitioner practice authority as an ongoing effort in many states. Other agenda items will include immunization practices and government control, tobacco safety, special health care needs of children, mental health and child protection from violence. We are also worried about meeting children’s basic needs, including enough healthy food to eat at home and nutritious meals at school.
Another important initiative includes the continuation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which despite being a federally recognized program is administered by the individual states. We want to be sure that children have access to primary care, specialty services, hospice, palliative care, and very important access to mental health services for many years to come!
As your new year’s resolution for 2016, consider taking part in advocacy efforts for child health in your own neighborhood! There are so many concerns for children and together we can positively affect these outcomes. NAPNAP's Advocacy Center can assist you in your advocacy endeavors, as can your local chapter!
On New Year’s Eve, I read a post by country music star, Brad Paisley, who said, “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” Just take a few hours or days of 2016 to advocate for children, and you will fill the pages with very meaningful memories.