|Vol. 17, No. 20||Feb. 19, 1998|
To say that nursing is a full-time profession for Judy Hendricks is an understatement. Not only does she teach part-time at the University, Hendricks is a nurse practitioner at the Health Care Center at Christiana, serves as president of the Delaware Board of Nursing, is area representative to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing's Advanced Practice Task Force and chairs the Delaware Joint Practice Committee, which administers prescriptive authority.
Hendricks said she knew she wanted to be a nurse at the age of 5 and has never swerved from her chosen profession, going from volunteering as a candy striper to becoming an activist nurse practitioner in Delaware.
A 1971 UD graduate, Hendricks received her master's degree in cardiopulmonary nursing in 1978. She taught full time at UD until 1981.
Interested in shaping policy in her profession, Hendricks decided to become a nurse practitioner and received her post master's N.P. certificate from the University of Maryland in 1982, rejoining the UD faculty on a part-time basis in 1989.
Nurse practitioners are role models in the nursing profession, and play an important role in the health care system, she said, providing a unique combination of primary care with a nursing background. Nurse practitioners look at the whole person, not just a specific ailment or problem, and their focus is on repairing health and promoting a healthy life style. As one of the first nurse practitioners in the state, Hendricks was among the trail blazers in establishing the specialty.
During the early 1990s, although 44 states had granted prescriptive authority for nurse practitioners, Delaware had not. Hendricks was in the forefront of the effort to accomplish this goal and spent two years making frequent visits to Dover to talk to and inform members of the Delaware General Assembly about this issue.
She helped develop a compromise bill in 1994, giving nurse practitioners prescriptive authority, under the regulation of the Joint Practice Committee, which represents both the nursing and medical professions. She currently chairs the committee.
In her current role as president of the state Board of Nursing, Hendricks is involved in the regulation of the practice of nursing with the safety of the public as the primary concern. "We are involved in credentialing, licensing and disciplining where called for," she said.
As area representative to the national council's advanced practice task force, Hendricks attends meetings at the headquarters in Chicago during the year. One of the goals of the national board is promoting interstate licensing for nurses. Currently, nurses must apply for a license separately in each state. It would be more efficient if states honored each other's qualified nurses, Hendricks pointed out.
Another project is Telehealth, where doctors and nurses can cross state lines to deliver care through technology.
Hendricks has been recognized for her many contributions to nursing. In 1996, she was named Nurse of the Year by the Delaware Nurses Association and was selected as Delaware Nurse Practitioner of the Year by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. Both these awards are very meaningful to her, she said.
-Sue Swyers Moncure