A Nurse Practitioner Finds Community through ASAM
DNP, ANP-BC, CNE
Although Marianne Logan Fingerhood, DNP, ANP-BC, CNE, has been involved with ASAM for many years, she only recently became a member.
In 2024, Dr. Fingerhood will mark her 25th year as an adult primary care nurse practitioner. After years of attending ASAM’s Annual Conference, she decided to join ASAM three years ago. Now, she’s on a mission to inspire more nurse practitioners (NPs) to join her.
“One of the significant ways I have been involved is in spreading the word that there is a home for nurse practitioners at ASAM,” she said.
Dr. Fingerhood is the director of the Adult/Gerontological Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Program at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. She’s also an assistant professor at the school and the Supporting Nursing Advanced Practice Transitions (SNAPT) Nurse Practitioner Fellowship program director.
She began her career in medicine in 1985, working in a cardiac critical care unit. After spending time as a staff educator, she started teaching pre-licensure students in 1990. Dr. Fingerhood earned her nurse practitioner license in 1999, in part because she wanted to develop better relationships with patients and help them improve their health before they experienced a health crisis. She said the relationship NPs have with patients helps them effectively treat patients battling addiction.
“It's going to be much easier for patients with addiction to walk through difficult changes with someone they already trust,” she said. “If someone was really struggling or someone in my practice had concerns about a patient's use of opioids, that patient always ended up on my schedule because they felt I could help them through some of the issues.”
Nurse practitioners have long fought for the right to practice independently and to prescribe medications. Over time, many states have granted them these rights. Dr. Fingerhood said she still remembers the day in January 2017 when many NPs were finally allowed to prescribe buprenorphine.
“It was a huge bonus for me and for many of my colleagues,” she said.
Since then, NPs have been on the front lines in the fight against addiction and substance misuse, making them more vital than ever.
“We really need to have a bigger presence of nurse practitioners within ASAM because so much of the primary care work on substance use disorders, especially in underserved rural and urban areas is being done by nurse practitioners,” Dr. Fingerhood said.
Dr. Fingerhood added that she’s thrilled that ASAM members have recognized the contributions NPs are making in the field of addiction medicine.
“I will tell you that coming in as a nurse practitioner, I have felt supported by the physicians within ASAM, which is not always the case in the general population,” she said. “I think they have a lot of respect for what nurse practitioners bring to the table and the type of work that we do. I think that's incredibly positive.”
Today, Dr. Fingerhood is one of the many NPs who are members of ASAM. She said there has been a steady increase in the number of NPs joining ASAM during the last decade, adding that ASAM and NPs can benefit from one another.
“ASAM needs NPs because much of the frontline work is being done by NPs,” she said. “ASAM needs to be able to pull those people into this organization to further strengthen it to share experiences and to add to their educational opportunities. NPs need ASAM for those same things. NPs need to be able to find community of other NPs who are doing the same kind of work, to find a place where they can grow and learn together. (ASAM) is a great platform to do that.”
In addition to attending ASAM’s Annual Conferences throughout the years, Dr. Fingerhood also sits on ASAM’s Pain Addiction Education Council, as well as The ASAM Pain and Addiction Planning Committee, and has used many of ASAM’s online educational tools. She said that ASAM has been a vital part of her own career advancement.
“Those tools have been incredibly helpful,” she said. “ASAM provides excellent information that I trust. Through ASAM, I've also met a lot of incredible people who do really good work across the country. That's the best part about going to some of the conferences: I get to meet other NPs who do this kind of work. Conference also has special sessions where NPs can get together and network.”
After years of treating addiction, Dr. Fingerhood said the best part about her work is watching patients take control of their lives again. She added that she has seen many patients who have gone on to volunteer as peer counselors for others battling addiction.
“Being able to have that longitudinal relationship with someone who's really taking control of the things that made their life difficult — I think that's the best part of treating addiction,” she said. “It's different than treating high blood pressure and diabetes, although it's somewhat akin to that. I do a lot of that, too!”