The Volunteer of Year Award honors an AAPPN member who makes a difference to the organization. This year, AAPPN is proud to recognize Danielle DeOliveira as the 2020 Volunteer of the Year. Danielle is a Staff ARNP at Peninsula Behavioral Health in Forks, WA.
Danielle moved to Washington from North Carolina three years ago, in part because ARNPs are given greater autonomy here. She thought volunteering with AAPPN, specifically with the Legislation Committee, would give her a better grasp of the laws that shape our practice. She has served as Chair of the AAPPN Legislation Committee since 2018, after serving as a committee member the previous two years.
“As a member of the Legislation Committee, I have been a part of making sure psychiatric ARNPs are heard by the state government. Over the past three years I feel I have been part of making sure we will continue to have autonomy and are able to expand our practice opportunities to match our level of education.”
Advocacy is arguably the top priority for AAPPN, and it is of crucial importance to our members. Leading the advocacy effort is undeniably the most difficult volunteer role. The volunteer must navigate the breakneck pace, the bewildering language of law and politics, and—perhaps most importantly—the need to be comfortable with an enormous lack of information or understanding.
Her tenure as chair has coincided with a unique Democratic control of the governorship and the two houses of the state legislature. That has resulted in a flood of legislation specific to mental health care. It is perhaps the most overwhelming period for an AAPPN volunteer since the fight for prescriptive authority.
Danielle not only manages these difficulties, she seems to thrive within them. Bringing humor, calm, and sensibility, she leads a group of volunteers and coordinates with staff and lobbyists with a sense of ease that makes everyone around her more comfortable and confident.
“The biggest challenge in being chair of the Legislation Committee has been processing all the information about a bill in a very short time. The committee often has to make a call on whether or not to take a stand on an issue with only a few hours to decide.”
At Peninsula Behavioral Health, Danielle works “with a fantastic team” with four other ARNPs and a DO. Her case load consists of patients ranging in ages from 4 to 79, from a variety of backgrounds, and with a wide range of mental health challenges. Many of them have experienced homelessness or other trauma in their lifetimes.
For the past year, she’s used telemedicine to treat pediatric patients in Forks, WA, for two hours each week. Currently, Peninsula Behavioral Health is using telemedicine and telephone appointments to make sure all their patients have the support they need to work through the struggles of school closures and sheltering in place. She and her colleagues are dedicated to being available for anyone who is struggling with mental health challenges.
Balancing her work with the volunteer experience with AAPPN, Danielle has ensured that our Legislation Committee is thorough, thoughtful, and focused to protect our profession. The members of AAPPN could not have wished for a more dedicated and vital volunteer.
“If you are a member who is thinking about volunteering, AAPPN makes it so easy. The leadership truly values the time we choose to give to the various committees. Even chairing a committee has been easier than I expected since we have the expertise of Chris and Kirk for structure and guidance. 2020 has been a difficult year for many of us, but my volunteer experience with AAPPN has given me support and hope during many recent changes and challenges.”