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Making an Impact

Alumna heads American Association of Nurse Practitioners

Cindy Cooke

UTA alumna Cindy Cooke heads the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

Cindy Cooke remembers the day she got her acceptance letter to the RN to BSN program at UTA.

“It was also the day I found out I was expecting,” she says. “I told my husband, ‘I don’t think I can do this,’ but he said, ‘Yes you can.’”

Thanks to his support and the support of the UTA faculty and staff, Dr. Cooke completed her degree the following year and proudly balanced her new diploma in one hand and her 4-month-old son in the other.

That was in 1978. By the time her son was entering college, Cooke was going back to school to become a nurse practitioner. She has also earned her Doctorate of Nursing Practice and has spent the last 12 years at Fox Army Health Center in Huntsville, Ala. Last year, she was named president of the board of directors for the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).

Cooke says at UTA she learned it’s possible to balance personal and professional aspirations.

“There are so many ways you can accomplish your goals, and when I was at UTA, I saw that,” she says. “Each one of us has those professional goals, and it’s good to know you can accomplish them while working around your family, your life.”

At the AANP, an Austin-based professional organization with more than 65,000 individual members and over 200 group members, Cooke works to promote excellence in nurse practitioner practice, education, and research. She also backs the organization’s efforts to advance health policy to shape the future of health care by bringing nurse practitioners’ voices to the table and working to enhance their image. NPs number more than 205,000 nationwide.

She encourages all nurses to be active in professional organizations.

“Schools of nursing are leading the charge to show students the importance of professional practice,” she says. “AANP continues to work with many academics to encourage leadership, health policy, and excellence in patient care.”