The Executive Committee of the Fellows of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (FAANP) recently announced that University of Arizona College of Nursing Clinical Professor Lorraine Martin Plank , PhD, FNP-BC, NP-C, GNP-BC, FAANP, FNAP, will be the recipient of the 2022 FAANP Legacy Award. Established in 2020, the FAANP Legacy Award honors a member of FAANP whose lifelong career has had a profound and enduring impact on the profession and the nurse practitioner (NP) role, articulating a dream that others share and follow. The vision, innovation, courage, persistence, and inspiration of the honoree are essential components of the legacy.
Dr. Martin Plank’s tireless efforts as a mentor for her students, and her background in practice are two of the reasons her peers nominated for the Legacy Award. Much of her unique practice career has centered on NP-managed centers in urban areas supporting disadvantaged patients. She has provided care at a North Philadelphia housing project clinic and at a Bethlehem, PA, mobile van serving the area’s Latino population.
“For me, the biggest thrill is seeing my students succeeding. Some of them are speakers on national circuits and they’ve really advanced in their leadership. I’m happy that I was a little part of their learning experience," ~ Lorraine Martin Plank , PhD, FNP-BC, NP-C, GNP-BC, FAANP, FNAP
“I’m very honored,” Dr. Martin Plank says. “For me, the biggest thrill is seeing my students succeeding. Some of them are speakers on national circuits and they’ve really advanced in their leadership. I’m happy that I was a little part of their learning experience.”
As a teenager, Dr. Martin Plank initially considered pursuing a career as a history or English teacher, but when she was hospitalized for an acute event, her eyes were opened to the healing power of nursing. “I was just so impressed by the way that nurses cared for patients that I reconsidered,” she says. “I signed up to be a candy striper at the local hospital, and that’s how I got started.”
Dr. Martin Plank’s journey as an educator began early in her career. When she started the baccalaureate program at Villanova University, the only women on the male-dominated campus were nurses. Since there was no loan forgiveness program for nursing students, Dr. Martin Plank’s accountant father encouraged her to combine her interests in nursing and teaching to become eligible for student loans available to future educators. “My father said to me, ‘You like teaching; you love to practice; why don’t you combine practicing and teaching and then you’ll get the loan forgiveness?’ That’s how I got started in education.”
Dr. Martin Plank’s teaching has focused on advanced practice clinical courses, health policy, population health, OSCE and simulation, gerontological health and prescribing. Her scholarly contributions to her field have included books, journal publications, and dozens of presentations. She has a particular passion for her role as a mentor to up-and-coming NPs. “New Nurse Practitioners need a lot of support in the role,” she explains. “There are a lot of challenges in practice. The corporatization of medicine is very challenging, and the question is do we want to fit into that role model, or do we want to break out into more patient-centered holistic models? My goal is to get more people to do that.”
Dr. Martin Plank’s zeal for advocacy and health policy is a natural extension of that desire. In her home state of Pennsylvania, she has worked tirelessly to improve the working lives of NPs. She regularly writes advocacy letters, meets with legislators -- many of whom know her on a first name basis -- and attends annual lobby days at the state legislature to advance the cause of granting NPs full practice authority. Furthering her role as mentor, she often brings students and new NPs with her to model the kind of activism that is essential for political and social change.
As for the future, Dr. Martin Plank is in no mood to slow down. She sees each day as a blessing and is inspired by her ability to support her colleagues at UArizona Nursing by highlighting all the important ways they are influencing their students and their practice. “One of the biggest cornerstones of nursing is practice and advanced practice,” she says. “I work with so many wonderful people at the University and here in Pennsylvania, where I’ve been blessed with this recognition. I want to see that they also receive the recognition that they deserve for the remarkable work they are doing.”