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Preventive medicine

Dr. Angela Golden, MN/E ’96 President of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners Munds Park, Arizona


As president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, Angela Golden is preaching the power of preventing disease.

As the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, Angela Golden spent two days camped out on the front steps of the landmark Washington, D.C., building.

Reporter after reporter lobbed questions. Cameras and microphones were pointed at her. And Golden was ready for her moment. As president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), Golden happily espoused the virtues of a profession that is close to her heart.

“There was news media from all over the world and they all wanted to hear about nurse practitioners and how we believed we were part of the answer of America’s health care crisis,” says Golden. “I never would have expected that, but it was certainly an amazing highlight.”

Through her role with the AANP, Golden is the voice of the country’s more than 171,000 nurse practitioners. She travels the country speaking to her colleagues, industry groups and physicians to educate them on the nurse practitioner’s role in the changing face of health care and the health care system. The Affordable Care Act will create an increased demand for primary care practitioners, one which nurse practitioners are ready and eager to fill.

“The most satisfying part of my job is getting an opportunity on a larger scale, to share my passion for nursing and advanced practice,” she says. “I can talk about my profession and share what I believe our strength is. This really has been one of the highlights of my professional career.”

It’s a career that started 37 years ago when Golden received her bachelor’s of science in nursing and became a practicing registered nurse (RN). She logged time in hospital emergency rooms and intensive care units and also had stints as a flight nurse, school nurse and a hospice nurse during the start of the AIDS epidemic.

She went on to receive two master’s degrees in nursing, the first in nursing education from the University of Phoenix.

“In 1994 I was looking for a graduate program but I was a mother and working full time,” she says. “I needed a program that flexed a little bit and didn’t require me to be on campus five days a week. University of Phoenix offered a master’s in nursing education and I only had to come to campus one day a week, and so it was a perfect fit for me. It gave me the flexibility of working around my work schedule, and it was exactly the degree I was looking for.”

Golden went on to receive a second master’s from Northern Arizona University and in 2008 she earned her doctor of nursing practice (DNP) with an emphasis on health policy and evidence-based practice from Arizona State University.

In 2012, Golden was elected to a four-year term as president of the AANP. Her work with the AANP keeps her constantly on the move, but when home in Munds Park, Arizona, she does house calls as part of her private practice, NP from Home, and works at a community health center.

As a family nurse practitioner, Golden relishes the opportunity to use education to help her patients prevent disease and achieve a better quality of life. Some of her favorite patient stories involve encouraging small changes that made big differences.

Golden is also enthused to see how much the nurse practitioner profession has grown since she first received her degree 15 years ago. Rarely does she have to explain what she does, as she did back then. People understand now more than ever that being a family nurse practitioner, in many states, puts you on par with a family physician. Golden can diagnose and prescribe treatment for chronic diseases. She can also write prescriptions.

But what Golden loves most of all about her job is what encouraged her to go beyond that RN title all those years ago.

“As an RN, I spent the majority of my time in a hospital or in a critical-care situation like flight nursing,” says Golden. “You are trying to keep people from getting sicker who are already very sick. What I wanted to do moving forward was to try to keep them from getting that sick. Being a family nurse practitioner really fit perfectly with that. I can help people learn about how to prevent major chronic diseases, but if they happen, how to be as healthy as they can with that chronic disease.”

With a philosophy like that, the future of this nurse practitioner’s impact on health care looks positively golden.

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For more information about the MSN degree, visit phoenix.edu >

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Cynthia Ramnarace is a freelance writer based in Rockaway Beach, N.Y. She writes on health, finance and disaster management and may be reached through her website, www.cynthiaramnarace.com.