The purpose, mission, activities, benefits, and target audience of two professional nursing organizations: The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and the American College of Nurse Midwives
A nurse beginning her medical career will likely want to join an organization that can support her throughout her tenure in the profession. On a personal level, professional organizations provide a source of continuing education and networking. On a professional level, organizations such as the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) and the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) act as advocates for the interests of professionals. They demand that nurses’ unique areas of expertise are honored and treated with respect, and that the interests of children and their parents are honored. When selecting which organization to join, however, a nurse must ask herself this critical, soul-searching question: what area is her primary field of practice? Does the nurse seek out a specialty that does not directly relate to childbearing? Is the nurse unsure of her pediatric specialty? If so, then NAPNAP is likely to provide more expansive resources than the more focused area of interests represented by ACNM.
The purpose of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners identifies its mission as “promoting optimal health for children through leadership, practice, advocacy, education and research” (“Home,” NAPNAP, 2012). It is “the only national organization dedicated to improving the quality of health care for infants, children and adolescents and to advancing the PNP’s role in providing that care” (“Home,” NAPNAP, 2012). The organization assumes a role of advocacy as well as provides information for practitioners. “NAPNAP has been actively advocating for children’s health by: providing funding, education, and research opportunities to PNPs; influencing legislation that affects maternal/child health care; and producing and distributing educational materials to parents and families. NAPNAP prides itself in the caliber of its members, which includes national child health care experts, respected authors, distinguished faculty, and practicing professionals” (“About us,” NAPNAP,2012). It is an organization with a clear vision of how to improve healthcare for children. It is willing to take controversial stances. It was the first nursing organization to sign a voluntary pledge supporting transparency in member interactions with “pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers and other for-profit companies in the healthcare field” (“NAPNAP continuing education center,” NAPAP, 2012)
For members, NAPNAP has local branches and specialty divisions to allow practitioner-members to share experiences. Continuing education is cited as one of the main reasons for members to join and pediatric medicine is always changing in its recommendations for practitioners, even more so than other professions (DeNoon 2008). Nurses have the ability to add to both their anecdotal knowledge by connecting with colleagues online and also reading the journal published by the organization, which is available to members. Members can add to their formal certification, which is often a requirement to advance professionally in many healthcare institutions. For example, NAPNAP advertises a member can “earn FREE online CE credit — read JPHC article ‘Antipsychotic Medication Prescribing Trends in Children and Adolescents'” and take the quiz afterward (“NAPNAP continuing education center,” NAPAP, 2012)
The membership of the American College of Nurse Midwives is more specific. It focuses on childbirth, rather than on all pediatric specialties. It also focuses on nurse-midwives and not all midwives are nurses. While NAPNAP’s inception is relatively recent (1973), the ACNM is “the oldest women’s healthcare organization in the United States” (“About ACNM,” ACNM, 2012). The core functions it serves are similar to that of NAPAP. It supports the continuing education of members and sets ethical standards for the profession to increase the sense of professionalism and regard the population feels for midwives. It also has a political arm, in its creation of “liaisons with state and federal agencies and members of Congress (“About ACNM,” ACNM, 2012).
ACNM is committed to creating the impression of professionalism for the profession of midwifery and strongly supports the certification of this ‘caring’ profession. Some people still view midwives as folk medicine practitioners, and the ACNM works to create an evidence medicine-based image for midwives, as well as to establish the unique value they offer to women and children (“What is a midwife,” American Pregnancy Association, 2012). “ACNM evaluates, publishes, and showcases scientific evidence to improve professional practice. We are committed to upholding the most rigorous clinical practice standards in the midwifery profession and applying this knowledge and clinical expertise to help women make the best health decisions. We strongly support the use of quality measurement to improve care” (“About ACNM,” ACNM, 2012).
However, while the organization does support professional standards, it also notes that it is an advocate of woman-centered care that encompasses women’s social and human needs during pregnancy, childbirth, and childcare and supports those who enter the profession through nontraditional means. “ACNM celebrates and supports a diverse midwifery profession. ACNM embraces those prepared dually in nursing and midwifery and those prepared directly in midwifery” (“About ACNM,” ACNM, 2012). Like NAPNAP, ACNM offers continuing education certification options, but it also provides more general information about becoming a midwife, even for individuals who currently do not have a degree in nursing, but are seeking to transition into the profession through educational ‘bridge’ programs (“Become a midwife,” ACNM, 2012).
For an advanced practice nurse with a general interest in pediatrics, or a specific interest in pediatrics beyond the field of childbirth NAPNAP would be more suitable. For a nurse-midwife, or a midwife contemplating gaining professional certification after entering the profession through nontraditional means, ACNM would be a better choice. Both organizations offer continuing education and benefits to members as advocacy groups and sources of networking and communication.
“About ACNM.” American College of Nurse Midwives. [23 May 2012]
“About us.” National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. [23 May 2012]
“Become a midwife.” American College of Nurse Midwives [23 May 2012]
DeNoon, Daniel. “Baby milk recommendations changed.” Web MD. 2008. [23 May 2012]
“Home.” National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. [23 May 2012]
“NAPNAP continuing education center.” National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners.
[23 May 2012] http://www.napnap.org/PNPResources/Education.aspx
“What is a midwife?” American Pregnancy Association. [23 May 2012]
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