Western University of Health Sciences’ College of Graduate Nursing Assistant Professor Donna Emanuele, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, CNS, FAANP, was honored by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) for her advocacy work on behalf of the nursing profession.

AANP bestowed Emanuele with the 2015 Advocate State Award for Excellence in California during the AANP’s 2015 National Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. This prestigious award is given annually to a dedicated nurse practitioner (NP) who has made a significant contribution toward increasing awareness and acceptance of the NP role.

“It was really quite a thrilling moment in my professional career, to be acknowledged by my peers,” she said. “There are many nursing leaders, engaged advocates and partners in health care committed to advancing the professional practice of nursing and to furthering the role of the nurse practitioner, so this was a very humbling honor. Our combined advocacy efforts benefit patients, families and communities we serve. Californians deserve nothing less.”

Emanuele is president of the California Association of Nurse Practitioners (CANP), and has also served in other CANP leadership roles during her tenure with the CANP board, including president-elect and health policy and practice chair. She is a 2014 Health Policy Fellow graduate of Ohio University, Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, and was the first nursing practitioner and Doctor of Nursing Practice to be selected from WesternU to join the ranks of this team of health policy scholars.

“This is an exciting time for health care and for all health professions as we strive to meet the unmet health care needs of our vulnerable populations and provide greater access to care in our underserved communities,” Emanuele said. “CANP advocates on behalf of nearly 20,000 nurse practitioners statewide, and represents the largest group of NPs in the nation. There are over 200,000 NPs in the country.”

A top priority of CANP has been working with state Sen. Ed Hernandez and Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, authors of Senate Bill 323, which would advance full practice authority for NPs in California. The Assembly’s Committee on Business and Professions postponed a hearing on SB 323 on July 14 and will take it up again in January 2016.

“We’re building momentum with our grassroots advocacy, and strengthening relationships across the legislature, to finally put California on the map where nurse practitioners are allowed to practice to the fullest extent of their education and training, eliminating unnecessary barriers to practice,” Emanuele said. “SB 323 would place nurse practitioners in a much better position to improve access to care for Californians.”

Emanuele encouraged others to get involved in advocating for their profession.

“One of most important things for nurses is to engage in advocating for your patients as well your profession, otherwise someone else is going to make decisions on your behalf,” she said. “This is a very exciting time in the history of the nursing profession in California. As nurse practitioners, we’re hopeful we will succeed in making necessary changes to progress and advance legislation that will improve our ability to extend much needed access to care to our patients and update antiquated legislation that is reflective of NP practice today. SB 323 is a part of the solution, with many supporting partners in full agreement. It is really all about achieving the higher ground.”