As many of you know from reading my blogs over the last four years, I am constantly inspired by nature – by the change of seasons; by birds choosing (or not choosing) to live in our carefully selected birdhouses; by the sun, the moon and the stars. My husband and I live adjacent to national wetlands preserves in a home that is elevated on 12’ pilings. I have become attuned to the tides, the high water table and our hungry four-legged neighbors. To fulfil my visceral need for blooming plants, we’ve created a small garden on our deck of potted shrubs and flowering plants.
This spring we planted two rose bushes. I carefully chose the pots (they’re huge!), and was meticulous about the soil and fertilizer. By daily tending we have been rewarded with continual blooms of the most wonderfully scented, perfectly formed, deep crimson roses. Every few days I clip a couple of new buds and bring them inside to savor their beauty. Blooms left on the bushes attract pollinators and the occasional misguided hummingbird.
Which brings me to my tenure with the Consortium. Even before starting as its first Executive Director in November 2015, I was excited about helping to create this start-up, this disruptive innovator of an accreditation agency. Our mission was two-fold: To develop a rigorous, transportable and scalable model for a 12-month postgraduate training program for nurse practitioners; To partner the model with a carefully crafted accreditation process, designed by experts in NP postgraduate training, that would give the public and the profession confidence in the relevance, quality and integrity of the training.
We tended this small, evolving landscape of postgraduate training. We worked day in and day out, season by season, weathering storms and drought, believing in the importance and transformative power of relevance, passion, excellence and quality. Today that original, tiny plot has evolved into a lush perennial garden that is incredibly beautiful, in every season, at every time of day. Its initial success stories have spread across the country, inspiring and transforming NP postgrad training into a sustainable and expanding landscape. We are increasing health care to our most vulnerable populations, providing a safe environment for new practitioners to perfect their skills and build their competence and then welcoming them with grace and encouragement as future leaders in healthcare. Talk about climate change… we have changed the climate of NP postgraduate training and accreditation in the United States. We have created a vibrant community of learning and practice that is gaining notice, attracting funding, and transforming health care.
It has been my privilege to be an integral contributor to this world of NP postgraduate training. I’d like to briefly review some highlights from the last four years.
- Creation of formal Accreditation Standards and the inaugural version of the Accreditation Policies and Procedures Manual;
- The design and launch of NNPRFTC’s website;
- Nine accreditation applications were received—of those, seven programs were accredited, and two are undergoing initial review (more are in the pipeline for initial accreditation); three additional training programs are undergoing accreditation renewal;
- The launching of innovative site visitor training (40+ hours of synchronous and asynchronous learning with webinars, team-based simulations and capstone site visit observation), building a roster of 17 potential site visitors from eight states;
- Creation of Accreditation Salon webinars for various audiences;
- The posting of news articles and blogs addressing a variety of topics about accreditation;
- Holding the inaugural Annual Conference in Denver in 2018, and an expanded Annual Conference in Indianapolis in 2019;
- Submission of the Consortium’s Eligibility petition for recognition by the U.S. Department of Education in October 2018 (the first step in the review process);
- Rollout of a dues-paying membership program, including a members-only website;
- Transformation, in 2019, of NNPRFTC Board’s Accreditation Committee into the Accreditation Commission, with Rules of Governance assuring its independence and autonomy;
- Complete review, update and revision of the Accreditation Policies and Procedures Manual in 2019;
- Submission of the Consortium’s full petition for Initial Recognition as a programmatic accreditor to the U.S. Department of Education in June 2019, with a hearing scheduled for February 2020 before the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity.
As I pass my gardening gloves, wide-brimmed hat and trusty trowel over to the next generation of leadership, I know that our garden will continue to flourish in Kerry Bamrick’s very caring and highly capable hands. It has been such a joy to be a part of this movement, to have become a part of a flourishing community where the boundaries between true friendship and professional collegiality all but disappear. On September 1, I will shift to a consultant role, focusing on completing the U.S. Department of Education process. Do stay in touch—my Candice.firstname.lastname@example.org account will remain active. I’d love to hear how the garden is growing!
Sharing an old Irish blessing, whispered by my great grandparents as loved ones set off on life journeys:
“May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”
Warmest regards to each and every one of you, wishing the very best,