Meet First NP To Serve on Society Board: Alice Bonner
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It seems only fitting that Alice Bonner, PhD, APRN, GNP, Associate Professor at Northeastern University, is the first nurse practitioner (NP) to serve on the Society Board of Directors since the organization opened up its voting membership to advance practice professionals four years ago. Dr. Bonner has a solid track record with the Society—as a speaker, educator, author in JAMDA and Caring, Chapter member and state delegateand volunteer.
Her election to the board as Board Representative to the House of Delegates, she says, “represents the acknowledgement by the Society that interprofessional teams are critically important.” She adds, “Geriatrics and the care of older adults has always been a team sport, even before accountable care organizations and other models. The Society is demonstrating ongoing leadership regarding the importance of interprofessional teams by having advanced practitioners on the board and recognizing the values that different disciplines bring to the organization.”
Dr. Bonner started coming to Society conferences some 20 years ago. She says, “What kept me coming back was the fellowship, camaraderie, and inclusivity. Even then, I found that these physicians were welcoming and accepting of advance practitioners; and they have become ever more so over the years.” She also was impressed by the quality of the education at the conferences, as well as tools such as clinical practice guidelines. She says of the Society, “This is the one place where people really get post-acute and long-term care.”
The Society is an organization that wants the voice of practitioners to be heard in policymaking, Dr. Bonner suggests, adding, “It’s done a very good job of making this happen.” And more than most, Dr. Bonner knows about policy. She served as Deputy Associate Regional Administrator for the Northeast Region and the Director of the Division of Nursing Homes for the Survey and Certification Group at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). She has been instrumental working with the Society to build a rapport between the organization and CMS. She says, “Experts in the Society have knowledge and experience in the field, and this is valuable to CMS as they evaluate and re-evaluate best nursing home policy for the country. There is a benefit to our members having a strong relationship with CMS so that they can help promote sound policies that improve nursing home care and support the great work our members do.”
The Society and CMS have shared goals of quality care, she notes. She says, “We can work together to achieve goals.” For instance, she suggests, the Society can work with CMS on implementation of the new survey process.
There will be many challenges and opportunities for Society members in the near future, Dr. Bonner says. “The entire nursing home sector will be facing significant change as more care is delivered in the community. However, because the population continues to grow and grow older, there will always be a need for nursing homes.” In this changing paradigm, she suggests, “We are reinventing what we are and where we deliver care moving forward.” She notes that the Society and its members will be working with federal and state to determine what is the best care model for this rapidly growing older population, particularly those who are too frail to stay in the community or lower-level care settings.
Outside of work, Dr. Bonner enjoys being grandmother to her wonderful grandson, and she runs. “I only have one hobby and it’s running. I’m not super-fast. but I love to run races.” She also volunteers with a group called “Back on My Feet,” which helps homeless men and women rebuild their lives through running. “Through the fellowship of being on a team, they get peer support and build relationships that are helpful as the work to get back on their feet.” Dr. Bonner says, “Many run marathons and other races with us. It’s very uplifting.”