Clarifying the Role of the Emergency Nurse Practitioner

Posted on Mon, Nov 14, 2016
Clarifying the Role of the Emergency Nurse Practitioner

It's National Nurse Practitioner Week! Please take a moment to thank the NPs on your team this week.

By Jennifer Wilbeck, DNP, ACNP-BC, FNP-BC, FAANP

During ACEP16, I had the pleasure of sharing updates on the role of emergency nurse practitioners (ENPs) to the ACEP Board and key leaders from across the country.

Although I have been an ENP for 17 years, the opportunities supporting and advancing ENP practice have only recently begun to gain momentum. In large part, this is due to the creation of the American Academy of Emergency Nurse Practitioners (AAENP), which now offers a unified, national voice for ENPs across the country. Reflecting the diversity of our practice sites, the paths to the ENP role and our subsequent litany of certifications is at times confusing for those who hire and work with ENPs.

Not all nurse practitioners (NPs) have the same knowledge and skill sets. Education and clinical practice for NPs, along with practice qualifications, are based on academic preparation and certification in a specific patient population, not on prior nursing experience. In addition to educational preparation, the ENP scope of practice is based on state regulations and licensure, as well as institutional credentialing. ENPs must be prepared to provide primary care and acute resuscitation, plus manage complex, unstable conditions in patients of all ages. Until recently, no academic programs offered this specialty training. Congruent with emergency care, current ENP educational programs now build upon the family nurse practitioner (FNP) education to provide specialty knowledge across the lifespan.
To further clarify the ENP role, the AAENP now “promotes high-quality, evidence-based practice for nurse practitioners providing emergency care for patients of all ages and acuities in collaboration with an interdisciplinary team.” Recent accomplishments which help standardize the ENP role include:

Additionally, AAENP is working to standardize both graduate ENP and post-graduate ENP fellowships. Just like our collaborative approach to care in the ED, AAENP’s organizational efforts also are collaborative. Visit and email any board member or regional director to get involved.

Jennifer Wilbeck, DNP, FNP, ACNP, FAANP, is the immediate past chair of the American Academy of Emergency Nurse Practitioners and the specialty director of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing ENP Program in Nashville. She practices at several middle Tennessee emergency departments managed by EmCare, including TriStar Spring Hill ER, TriStar Centennial Medical Center, Southern Hills Medical Center and TriStar Medical Center.

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