Providing a Platform for APRNs to Advance Their Practices

APRN Council offers education, advocacy and more

APRN Council

Summer Buckenmeyer, MSN, FNP-BC, APRN, CNP, became an advanced practice nurse to further her education and better serve patients.

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“I enjoy the autonomy, clinical decision-making and camaraderie with colleagues,” says Buckenmeyer, Regional Cardiovascular Medicine APP Manager for Cleveland Clinic’s Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Institute. “Cleveland Clinic embraces a culture of continuing education that drives my aspiration to grow.”

Buckenmeyer also encourages her peers to grow as chair of Cleveland Clinic’s APRN Council, which has more than 200 members who meet once a month.

“The purpose of the council is to fully support the 2,400 APRNs throughout the enterprise,” she says. “It provides a base for APRNs where they can network, bring ideas to the table and find ways to improve outcomes for APRNs and patients.”

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APRN advocacy, education, recognition and more

When Buckenmeyer took over as council chair in January 2021, she set a focus for the year on improving the council’s structure, networking throughout the enterprise and creating a platform to grow APRNs. Because advanced practice nurses work in so many specialties, she wanted to understand how each area functions. She requested a brief report from each institute and specialty on their number of APRNs, the roles they play and the projects they are working on.

“When the APRNs started sharing their structures and projects, it provided an ‘aha!’ moment for other areas,” says Buckenmeyer. “We can grow by learning from each other because everybody does things a little bit differently.”

The APRN Council is divided into six subcommittees to help achieve its goals:

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  1. Advocacy – The subcommittee keeps abreast of what’s going on locally at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, as well as at the state and federal levels. It also remains up to date on licensure requirements and scope of practice for advanced practice nurses.
  2. Education – The mission is to provide educational opportunities for APRNs. The subcommittee planned two conferences in 2021 – a pediatric pharmacology conference in July and the APRN Pharmacology Conference in November. The subcommittee also rolled out enterprise-wide grand rounds for APRNs on the second Wednesday of each month, which offer continuing education (CE) hours. In addition, the Journal Club provides quarterly articles within Cleveland Clinic’s My Learning online learning platform for pharmacology CE hours.
  3. Recognition & Branding – This group spreads the message about what the council does and events it sponsors. It reaches out to APRN hires, congratulates new APRNs and lets advanced practice nurses know they have a support system.
  4. Professional Development – The subcommittee recently created four professional pathways, with curriculum, for APRNs: leadership, quality, education and research. A pilot of the APRN Professional Pathways Program will be completed in December 2021. In March 2022, Cleveland Clinic will launch its first cohort with 50 participants.
  5. Preceptorship – This group’s goal is to enhance the preceptor and student experience. One of its projects was to use ACEMAPP, an electronic platform, to better connect students with preceptors. Previously, it was challenging to find preceptors and match them to students. In addition, some APRNs were getting multiple requests to be preceptors. With the new online system in place, Cleveland Clinic has increased its APRN preceptors to more than 700.
  6. Research – Advanced practice nurses on the subcommittee connect APRNs to nurse scientists and resources in the Office of Nursing Research and Innovation. The subcommittee is also working on a project to chronicle the history of the APRN Council with the goal of comparing its evolution to that of comparable councils across the country.

Creating conversations to propel your practice

Buckenmeyer encourages other APRNs to become a voice for their colleagues by joining councils within their healthcare systems as well as in professional organizations on the local, state and national level. If advanced practice nurses work at a hospital without an APRN council, informal meetings with peers can be just as valuable.

“Network and have side conversations, even if it’s just over a cup of coffee,” she says. “Two or three people can sit down and come up with great ideas that will help better your practice, improve efficiencies, create better patient outcomes and foster professional growth.”