Addressing How the Role of the Nurse Practitioner Has Changed During the Pandemic


April Kapu, DNP, a professor at the Vanderbilt School of Nursing and president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, discusses the role of the nurse practitioner during the shifting needs of the pandemic.

Contemporary Clinic interviewed April Kapu, DNP, a professor at the Vanderbilt School of Nursing, an acute care nurse practitioner based in Nashville, TN, and president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, on the future of the nurse practitioner workforce amid health care staffing burnout and the extreme fatigue and stress of the pandemic.

Alana Hippensteele: How has the role of nurse practitioner changed as a result of the shifting needs of the pandemic?

April Kapu: This has just been so amazing to be part of—to be able to be a nurse practitioner during this time and to be able to work with so many amazing nurse practitioners during this time.

I started early in March of 2020 working with nurse practitioners to really make sure that we were meeting all of the needs that were kind of coming on strong because of the pandemic, and I can say that nurse practitioners have been there, ready to go from the very beginning. They've been on the front line, they were setting up testing centers in the community, we were setting up emergency departments like literally in a parking garage outside of an emergency department, setting up new standards of care for ed care, for ICU care, for acute, in hospital care.

We began to see patients in the home who were COVID-19 positive. I remember putting together the car kits—what all the different supplies we needed in the trunk of our car so we could see patients in the home. Telehealth—it just went off the charts in terms of being able to see patients via telehealth because a lot of patients did not feel comfortable coming in or they were very high risk, and so we had to see them for their health care needs. So, telehealth really boomed throughout the pandemic.

So, we saw a lot of changes, and we broke a lot of barriers. Telehealth is one. Seeing patients more in the home—a lot more—moving towards hospital to home, so what can we do to care for you in your environment, and then a lot in terms of nurse practitioners moving to communities as I had mentioned earlier to make sure that those health care services are readily available.

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