A Dream Is Born
Texas nurse practitioners dreamed of being able to network, organize, and promote the role of the nurse practitioner. In June 1988, the Austin Area Nurse Practitioners Alliance held a conference with the intent of promoting unity and networking of nurse practitioners in Texas. They invited the Dallas and Houston area nurse practitioners as well as nurse practitioner organizations with national connections (NAPNAP, NACOG, AANP, and TNA) to attend. The conference theme, "The Sleeping Giant Awakens," became the rallying theme for these nurse practitioners.
In October 1988, the Houston area nurse practitioners hosted a conference in Galveston, which carried on the theme and discussion about organizing the state's nurse practitioners. Participants at this conference donated $1800 seed money to begin development of a statewide nurse practitioner organization. Thus, the dream came closer to reality. A task force was charged with developing a model for the statewide organization. This task force met three times between November 1988 and May 1989. The task force decided to develop an independent model in order to allow time for the group to form an organization, to articulate its needs, to interact with other interest groups, and to negotiate with national and state organizations for membership and/or services based on the identified needs. Texas Nurse Practitioners was now a reality. Although only a fledging organization, Texas Nurse Practitioners advocated for nurse practitioners during the 1989 Texas Legislative session. TNP provided testimony, literature, and volunteer manpower to help pass a provision to allow nurse practitioners in rural and medically underserved areas to prescribe medications.
The Formative Years
The first annual Texas Nurse Practitioner conference was held at the University of Texas at Arlington in July 1989, with 207 participants. Information from the task force was presented, the by-laws were approved, and interim officers were elected. It was here that the charter was signed. During its first year, TNP was asked for input about Medicaid reimbursement for nurse practitioners, gained representation on the Texas Board of Nurse Examiners Advisory Board, established a newsletter, and planned the second annual conference. It was during the second annual conference on South Padre Island in October 1990, that the by-laws were officially approved by participant members and the first election was held. The motivation and leadership of Lisa Campbell, who had been instrumental in keeping the task force on track, was recognized through her election as the first President of Texas Nurse Practitioners. The third annual conference, which was held in Austin in October 1991, saw many exciting events. Keynote speakers for the conference were Barbara Bates and Loretta Ford. A proposal for TNP to join the newly organized Coalition for Nurses in Advanced Practice (CNAP) was made. Knowing that the purpose of the Coalition was to hire a lobbyist and obtain a stronger voice for advanced practice issues inspired conference participants to give approximately $5000 as part of TNP's share of the lobbying expense. In 1993, in a truly visionary step, TNP created a foundation to promote the education and advancement of nurse practitioners. Texas Nurse Practitioner Foundation, through monetary support by TNP and its members, began giving scholarships to RNs pursuing nurse practitioner education and research. The creation of this foundation was TNP's commitment to future nurse practitioners.
The Proactive Years
The Coalition for Nurses in Advanced Practice (CNAP) represented Texas Nurse Practitioners on legislation and policy issues through its lobbyist Kathy Hutto. TNP, as one of the member organizations, participated through delegate representatives in decision-making and grassroots organizations. Monetary support from TNP continued to increase, supporting lobbying efforts for significant legislation benefiting nurse practitioners in Texas. In 1992, legislation was passed to increase the level of Medicaid reimbursement and to allow direct reimbursement for all categories of advanced practice nurses. In 1995, legislation was passed to broaden the practice sites where advanced practice nurses were allowed to write prescriptions. In addition, there was a major change in protocol requirements, doing away with restrictive protocols and recognizing the education and experience of the advanced practice nurse.
Membership was growing and it was becoming difficult for the small force of volunteer officers to manage the workload. The need for a more organized and efficient state organization was obvious. Texas Nurse Practitioners was becoming a recognized organization representing nurse practitioners in Texas. The membership agreed that some changes were needed. A proposal was made to hire a part-time administrator to ensure that activities could be accomplished in a timely manner, Thus, in May 1996, the first office for Texas Nurse Practitioners was created and a nurse practitioner, Rebecca Wilson, was hired as administrator.
Taking a Look Back Before Moving Forward
In 2003, several important milestones occurred with Texas Nurse Practitioners: membership jumped over 1000 and conference attendance reached above 700. With this growth, it was time to look within our own structure to ensure that TNP could meet the needs of its members. After Rebecca Wilson resigned, a decision was made to hire employees of the organization. Even though it was only part time, Brenda Ziegler and Michelle Galloway were the first employees of TNP. As administrator, Ms. Ziegler was to oversee the day to day operations of the organization. During the next 2 years, the infrastructure of the organization was meticulously reviewed. Several changes occurred with this internal review:
1. Developed three essential elements in the TNP doctrine that provides the foundation for the organization, as well the basis for growth and evolution within the organization. They are the Vision Statement, the Mission Statement and the Statement of Values. The following are the statements selected to express the goals and desires of TNP.
2. The staffing structure was changed to allow the organization to expand its member services. An executive director was hired and a full time administrator to oversee the day to day operations.
3. Texas Nurse Practitioners became a corporation, TNP, Inc. This step was necessary to a) become recognized by the state, and b) protect the organization.
4. Formed a committee to develop organizational positions on issues involving nurse practitioners in Texas.
5. Created policies to guide the staff in decisions regarding the organization.
Full Speed Ahead
In 2007, TNP hired its first full time Executive Director, Emily Eastin. Shortly after Emily joining TNP, the TNP office was moved to Austin. This central location provided an opportunity to build important relationships to help continue to move and grow the association.Texas Nurse Practitioners has become a strong, united group of nurse practitioners. Since its beginning, TNP activity has included collaboration with state agencies, national nurse practitioner organizations, and many other health-related agencies and organizations. TNP has truly been a pioneer organization, blazing trails for Texas nurse practitioners. TNP will continue to work toward its purpose of advancing, supporting, and promoting the role of the nurse practitioner.
No Time to Slow Down
In the summer of 2010, TNP hired TNP's first Public Policy Director. Member engagement increased as they participated in grassroot activities. In the fall of 2010, TNP hired two lobbying groups - Janis Carter of Winstead, Inc. and Thomas Ratliff and Kevin Cooper of Ratliff Group. This team was in place for the 82nd and 83rd Legislative Sessions.
In 2015, TNP experienced record growth in membership and conference attendance. Eric Cusack joined the TNP staff as Associate Director of Public Affairs. Blakemore and Associates was hired as our contract lobby team. In summer of 2016, TNP hired their third full-time employee, Suzanna Roberts, Membership Engagement Coordinator.