The Fellows of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (FAANP) honored Lorraine Martin Plank, PhD, FNP-BC, NP-C, GNP-BC, FAANP, FNAP, clinical professor in the University of Arizona College of Nursing, with a 2022 Legacy Award for her contributions to health care and the nurse practitioner role.
Established in 2020, the FAANP Legacy Award honors an FAANP member whose career has had a profound and enduring impact on the profession, 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 peers nominated her for the Legacy Award because of her efforts as a mentor for her students and her background in practice. Much of her career has centered on nurse practitioner-managed centers in urban areas supporting disadvantaged patients. She has provided care at a North Philadelphia housing project clinic and at a Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, mobile van serving the area’s Latino population.
“I’m very honored,” Dr. Martin Plank said. “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 small part of their learning experience.”
As a teenager, Dr. Martin Plank considered pursuing a career as a history or English teacher, but when she was hospitalized for an acute medical event, her eyes were opened to the healing power of nursing.
“I was just so impressed by the way nurses cared for patients that I reconsidered,” she said. “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, there was no loan forgiveness program for nursing students. Her 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, simulation, gerontological health and prescribing. Her scholarly contributions have included books, journal publications and dozens of presentations.
She has a particular passion for her role as a mentor to up-and-coming nurse practitioners. “New nurse practitioners need a lot of support in the role. There are a lot of challenges in practice. The corporatization of medicine is very challenging. 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 the latter.”
Dr. Martin Plank’s zeal for advocacy and health policy is a natural extension of that desire. In her home state of Pennsylvania, she worked tirelessly to improve the working lives of nurse practitioners. On her own time, 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 nurse practitioners full practice authority.
Each day as a blessing, says Dr. Martin Plank, who is inspired by her ability to support her College of Nursing colleagues by highlighting the important ways they are influencing their students and their profession.
“One of the biggest cornerstones of nursing is practice and advanced practice,” she said. “I work with so many wonderful people at the university and 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.”
A version of this story was originally published by the College of Nursing.