I had plenty of time to think as we drove from Connecticut to California this December. Crossing nearly a dozen state lines, through three time zones and innumerable weather systems, it was an epic trip through America’s towns and cities and vast open spaces.
I thought a lot about the state of health in America in those towns and cities. Though I’m new to my role as Executive Director of the Consortium, many of you know that I’ve been immersed in health care and passionate for years about issues related to nurse practitioner education, training and practice. So whether my husband and I were barreling through Arkansas, Oklahoma or New Mexico during those four long days, the connection between our country’s very pressing health issues, and the work of the Consortium was very much on my mind.
I thought a lot about children especially. Every day the news seems to bring reports of the state of children’s health, and the soaring rates of anxiety and depression among adolescents. This past fall, the CDC reported a 56 percent jump in the suicide rate among 10- through 24-year-olds between 2007 and 2017. A child psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health was quoted as saying that this should spur a national “call to action.”
Some people are already acting. I thought about the work of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. The Consortium accredited the hospital’s new Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Fellowship program – the first of its kind in the country – just last year.
Nationwide has grown into a major center for pediatric mental health care. Just 3½ years ago, when Nancy Noyes, APN, joined the hospital as its behavioral health manager, there were five psychiatric/MH NPs in practice at Nationwide; today, there are 19. Nancy saw a need for postgraduate training for new graduates in this field and got the buy-in of the institution’s leadership to move forward. With leadership support, she established a postgraduate fellowship program so new psychiatric/MH nurse practitioners, whose education prepares them to care for patients of all ages, had an opportunity to build confidence, mastery and competence in caring for children and adolescents.
As I am finding with all of the Consortium’s accredited programs, it is a partnership. Nancy told me that one of the best things about working with the Consortium was the mentoring she and her team got as they were moving forward with their program. She said that the mentoring made it so much easier for them, and now she wants to pay that forward by helping to support other program leaders when they call for advice. Partnership is the name of the game as we do our work, from coast to coast and all points in between.
So we are here in California and starting to settle in at home and in the office. The epic journey has been replaced by epic traffic, but the presence of extended family, daily runs in the sunshine and warm temperatures, and the exciting challenges of setting up the Consortium’s West Coast office make this truly a great “New Year.” Here’s to a great New Year—and new decade—to all.