Q&A with Daniel O'Neill, International NP and Humanitarian
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Posted by: Erin Cusack
This year, TNP Member and Legislative Ambassador Dr. Daniel O’Neill DNP, FNP-C, CEN, CCRN, FCENA, FACNP, FAANP was awarded the prestigious Australian Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal.
The award recognizes O’Neill for his medical efforts and humanitarian services overseas after Tropical Cyclone Pam affected several areas in the south Pacific region in March 2015.
A former veteran, O’Neill has dedicated his life to improving access to healthcare around the world and providing humanitarian efforts while deploying with the Australian Defense Force.
O’Neill has opened up many nurse practitioner (NP) services throughout Australia and the United Arab Emirates. He is also the first NP in several emergency departments within both countries. He dreams of putting into place an international certification program for NPs one day.
Throughout his 20 years of experience in healthcare, O’Neill has also been awarded the Meritorious Award Citation in 2011 by the United States Armed Forces and a citation from the U.S. Navy as subject matter exert in trauma care in 2010.
Find out more about O’Neill in his Q&A with TNP below.
Why did you decide to become an NP?
A: I wanted to do a lot more than what I was doing as a staff nurse. I was inspired by another NP to expand my role and really help fill in the gaps in the healthcare system.
You have worked internationally as an NP, as well as with the military in Australia. Tell us about some of your work in delivering healthcare services and leading missions abroad.
A: Pioneering and introducing the NP role, both in my native Australia and internationally, has been a passion of mine throughout my career. Over the years, I have helped set up and introduce NP services in various hospitals, cities, and countries. In Queensland, Australia, I worked with a team to set up an NP service from scratch, and I was one of the first emergency NPs in the area. I’ve also done a lot of work with the Australian Defense Force abroad. As part of my deployment, I was asked to set up an NP service in Abu Dhabi to introduce the NP role and help increase access to healthcare in the United Arab Emirates. These unique opportunities have allowed me to play a role in the development, mentoring, and training of emergency and acute care nurse practitioners – including developing nurse practitioner policy and advancing the role in many rural and metropolitan areas across the world.
How did you get to Texas?
A: I’ve been a part of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) for a long time and am one of the first international NPs. AANP asked me to present at many of their conferences in the U.S. and I came to Texas so much that eventually I ended up here.
Can you recall a patient success story while doing humanitarian assistance overseas?
A: During one of my missions with a small population in South Wales, I worked weekends as an Emergency NP. I had one patient who kept coming in with high blood pressure and other issues. I treated the patient, but they were hesitant to be seen by a nurse practitioner and complained to management. The patient was eventually admitted to a hospital and was told that the medications I had prescribed them saved their life. The patient was so moved by the experience that they later wrote a letter to the clinic, apologizing, and actually requested that they send more NPs to improve access to care in the area. It was just one patient, but I felt like it went a long way to really build trust with NPs as healthcare providers.
You were recently awarded the Australian Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal. Tell us more about this.
A: As a part of the reservists with the Australian military, I have been called to assist with disaster response efforts on multiple occasions. I was awarded the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal in recognition of my duties as the health liaison officer with the Australian Defence Force when Tropical Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu in March 2015. I was sent to the hurricane zone hours after Cyclone Pam touched down to assess the damage, see what resources needed to be allocated there, and help connect patients to needed services and supplies. The situation was dire. Everything was shut down and most of the hospitals were non-functional, so a lot of the mission focused on moving patients and supplies with very little resources at our disposal. Deploying with the military in this capacity demonstrated the skills and flexibility that NPs can bring to disaster health management and extreme health care situations.
What, if any barriers, do you experience in your practice as a nurse practitioner? Why do you think it’s important for NPs to advocate for policy change to remove barriers like these?
A: Every NP needs to be vocalizing the great work they’re doing and the barriers they’re facing. If we’re united and keep pushing, that’s how we change policy and overcome barriers. We need to be campaigning about the major issues we face in our practice. My biggest practice barrier is the burdensome regulation Texas requires with a delegating physician. It creates unnecessary barriers when what we truly need in this state is to be able to fully practice at the top of our license and help patients.
What are some of your favorite organizations outside of your professional associations?
A: The Wounded Warrior Project for Veterans. Being a veteran myself, I’m pretty passionate about it.
How do you spend your free time when you’re not working or doing school?
A: I like hanging out with my family. Going to the beach, walking the dogs, and going to do stuff together as a family.