NPs MOVING FORWARD: Today. Tomorrow. Together.
Nurse Practitioner Week is a time to honor the critical role of nurse practitioners in championing the health of our nation. This year’s theme is very fitting: “NPs Moving Forward: Today. Tomorrow. Together.”
This week we honor the critical role of nurse practitioners (NPs), who are championing the health of all patients. This year’s commemoration occurs as NPs also combat the COVID-19 pandemic in communities nationwide, and the nursing community joins together to celebrate the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife – all coinciding with the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birthdate.
Because we are the brand that empowers and uplifts the voice of our medical community, we’ve asked a few of our favorite Nurse Practitioners and NP Students to share with us a bit about their NP Journey.
From left to right: Heather Truchelut, NP | @partialtopink ; Tsetan Dolqar, RN, NP Student | @tsetanxdolqar ; Rose Grady, NP & Maddie Smith, NP | @two_npasinapod ; Lauren Knobeloch, NP | @thiserlife @npsofinsta ; Izunna Ewundo, NP | @izunna
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME AN NP?
HT: I grew up with medicine in my blood. My great grandmother was a nurse, and my family are physicians. I started volunteering in the hospital at age 16, and I was immediately hooked.
TK: While I was in the military I had exceptional care from nurse practitioners. I remember this specific encounter I had with a provider and at the end I told her, “thank you! I’ve never had a doctor explain in depth about all of this.” She replied, “that’s because I’m an NP” and winked.
I on a surgical team in the USAF where I was the only nurse on a 6-person team and had to make a lot of clinical decisions on my own. I knew from then on that I was totally capable and most importantly, had the experience and tools to become an NP.
MS: I loved being a bedside nurse and providing to direct patient care. I spent all my years as an RN working as critical care nurse, and I truly learned about the many ways we can care for patients, and their families. I decided to continue my education and become a family NP because I wanted to be able to provide comprehensive care for my patients more independently. I strive to be a leader in the nursing field.
RG: Working as a bedside nurse, I always admired the roles of the nurse practitioners on my patients’ care teams. Even though they were in the provider role of the team, the NPs still had the nurturing, caring practice style of a nurse. I loved that about the role, so watching my colleagues inspired me to advance my practice.
IE: I've been surrounded by healthcare my entire life and watched the care and compassion nurses had towards people and their patients. I saw the selflessness and empathy among nurses, and I wanted to be along sides with a group that embodied that which then decided my path. As an NP, I carry that principle when caring for my patients, and I enjoy every bit of it.
LK: I was inspired to become a nurse practitioner by witnessing nurses, doctors, and nurse practitioners care for some of my family members.
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was in middle school. I saw firsthand as a daughter at the bedside all the nurses, surgeons, and oncologists who were helping to care for my mom in her fight against breast cancer. They were making such an impact not only by physically caring for her but by also caring emotionally for our family. These healthcare workers, who were complete strangers, were smiling, showing compassion, and kindness to our family while at the same time literally working to save my mom’s life. It was amazing, and it still gives me chills. This was when I knew I was going to work in healthcare.
I knew I wanted to be a nurse practitioner when I was in high school. My twin cousins were born premature. They weighted 1 pound 10oz and 1 pound 9oz at birth. My family still sometimes laughs that I work in the medicine because I almost passed out the first time I saw the twins in the NICU. I nervously walked in to the NICU. There were beeping machines everywhere. They had these hot heating lamps over the infants. The twins were smaller than the size of the palm of my hand. My mouth got dry. I felt very hot and lightheaded. I was holding my breath in shock and my legs were locked. The next thing you know my poor aunt, who had just had an emergency c-section, is standing up out of her wheelchair leaning on the desk of the nurses’ station. I am in her wheelchair with my head between my knees and a NICU nurse is making me sip on orange juice through a straw. True story! Haha! But long story short, the several months the twins were in the NICU I was constantly trying to visit. It was absolutely amazing to watch them grow into precious chubby babies. I was again amazed and in awe of the medical team. And I was again feeling the calling to have a career in healthcare. Several of the times I was visiting, I watched a nurse practitioner as she was doing her rounds on her patients in NICU.
I also shadowed my mom’s oncology nurse practitioner. I watched her complete physical assessments, diagnosis, prescribe medications, and actual listen to the concerns of her patients and family members. This experience confirmed I wanted to be a NP.
I think we all have moments in our lives when everything seems to happen for a reason. I know it was meant to be that I was at the bedside watching the medical staff take care of my mom. I know it was meant to be for me to be visiting in the NICU at the same time the nurse practitioner was rounding on her patients. Becoming a nurse practitioner definitely is one of my callings in this life. I am just sure of it!
There have been countless nurse practitioners who have encouraged, taught, and continue to inspire me over the years. I am thankful for each of you and the skills you have taught me to be a better provider!
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT BEING AN NP?
HT: I love the career flexibility. You have great mobility in practicing in different areas of medicine if it sparks your interest.
MS: In addition to providing patient care, I love being able to build ongoing, trusting relationships with my patients. It’s a privilege to be able to work with patients to help them achieve their health-related goals and provide for their medical needs. Working in family medicine, we collaborate and work with other healthcare specialists and resources, and I love this team-based approach to care. I appreciate having many opportunities to be an advocate for my patients.
RG: I love the diversity of patients I care for! It’s so much fun seeing a variety of age groups and patient concerns. Caring for pediatric patients and women’s health concerns are my favorites!
IE: What I love the most about being an NP is the autonomy I have when caring for my patients. It's the main reason why I became an NP. Knowing that I've managed thousands of patients from the point of their lowest to their new healthy baseline gives me so much fulfillment in my life. I know that once a patient comes in for a visit, they would not be disappointed with the amount of care they'll receive.
LK: I must say without a doubt that my job as a nurse practitioner is what I love and the specialty of emergency medicine is definitely "my place" in this world of medicine. I love being an ER NP because every single shift is different. I love the fast pace of the ER and never knowing what type of patient is going to need my help at any moment during my shift. I love this job continues to challenge me to learn and every patient’s case is unique. Never a boring day!
Not only do I love being a Nurse Practitioner in the emergency department for the adrenaline rush, but also for the positive impact I can have on a patient's life. Patients come to the ER on some of the worst and most stressful days of their lives. As an ER Nurse Practitioner, it is so rewarding knowing that it is my job to assess, manage, treat, & diagnosis their medical problem...and ultimately try to make their terrible day a little better.
WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU AS AN NP FACED WHILE COMBATING COVID-19?
HT: Unfortunately, during the first wave of COVID-19 in March, we were hit so hard in New Jersey. Our hospital became so overwhelmed that we had to convert our cafeteria to accommodate the 700 COVID inpatients. Elective surgery was halted by the governor, so we were then re-assigned to treat patients. Many of my close colleagues became ill and a few died. It has been one of the hardest experiences of my professional life.
MS: Prior to COVID, I was seeing patients as a “walk-in” basis (like an urgent care) at the end of the day. For obvious reasons, we were no longer able to do this when COVID became more prevalent. All providers worked from home doing strictly telemedicine, which was all completely new to us, for some time. Since then, we have transitioned back into the office full time, still doing telemedicine in addition to in-person visits. My hours have changed at least three times since March. All patients get triaged for COVID symptoms before coming in to the office, and there is a specific process for testing and management for patients who have even one potential COVID symptom. COVID protocols and recommendations have constantly been changing, which has made it challenging to stay up to date on what is appropriate and necessary for these patients.
RG: Oh boy, a lot has changed in my practice since the onset of COVID-19. I work in an urgent care style setting, so I was seeing suspected COVID-19 patients for a few weeks until our clinic was closed. I have since been relocated three different times to help in areas with the most needs. Because of the reassignments, worksites and work schedules have been unpredictable for the past several months. My most recent assignment has been in acute telehealth, where I have seen many COVID-19 positive patients, providing care with the goal of managing their symptoms outpatient and reduce hospitalizations. I’ve had to learn to adapt, learn new roles and skills, and learn to be better at going with the flow!
IE: I was a part of the COVID response team for the organization I work for, and we had to quickly adapt to the demands of our population in these unprecedented times. We were one of the first FQHC to transitioning into Telehealth, in which I helped with creating a flow in our patient care. The challenges were dealing with an overhaul of testing and managing the anxiety brought on by the pandemic. The financial stresses and hardships that quickly enveloped our patient population. The challenge was navigating patient care while they were under so many external constraints in their lives and finding a middle ground to help.
LK: I was in the first trimester of my pregnancy with our daughter when Covid cases started hitting the United States. This was an extremely scary time in general to be working in the emergency department. But being an ER Nurse Practitioner who was pregnant and on the frontline, gave me even more anxiety. I had to figure out how (and if) I was going to continue to work through a pandemic and more importantly how to keep my unborn baby safe. In the beginning, there were so many “unknowns” about Covid management, treatment, symptoms, long term complications, and risk for pregnant women. I seriously think I read every single medical article I could find as they were being published when it came to pregnancy and Covid. With a lot of thought, research, discussions with my husband, decision making with my OBGYN, and tons of prayers, I decided to keep working. I kept working in the ER until I was 37 weeks pregnant, then I headed into strict quarantine before our baby’s due date.
Let me tell you what a real challenge is…wearing full PPE and a N95 mask for an entire shift which constantly moving around the busy ER with a huge pregnant belly! Haha!
Our little girl was born at the beginning of October. Blessed to say that baby and I made it through the delivery safe and healthy! I will be forever grateful for all my amazing coworkers who worked especially hard to make sure my baby and I stayed as safe as possible while I continued to work during pregnant during a pandemic. This has been a challenging year for everyone. I am so thankful to work with an amazing team of MDs, DOs, NPs, PAs, RNs, and so many other individuals in the ER that make navigating through this pandemic bearable.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO FUTURE NPs?
HT: Your first job isn't your last job. Hard work pays off.
TK: For future aspiring NPs, you are smart and totally capable. Don’t let fear and opinions of other stop you from going after your goals.
MS: The journey to becoming an NP may not feel like an easy one, as many of us continue to work as nurses, and have families and busy lives at home. My advice would be to plan and schedule ahead. Set time aside for studying, reading, clinicals, etc., but also set aside time for yourself, too! It’s so important to have that balance. Lean on your support system. And most importantly, never lost sight of why you are here. You have already learned so much as a nurse, and have already built the foundation for what you need to keep going and excel as an NP!
RG: The first year of practice is difficult. You will feel like you’re looking up everything, and it takes a longer time to complete a patient visit and the charting to go along. That’s okay! Take your time, and use your collaborator and resources to their fullest extent. Safety and accuracy are more important than productivity. Also, you do become more comfortable and efficient with time! The first-year bumps are not lasting.
IG: I would tell them to lead with compassion and never stop being a student. We need more NP's, and you are very deserving and capable of filling that role. Lastly, reach back and support new NP's as you advance in your career; it'll make you a much stronger NP and help the nursing profession.
LK: Here’s My Advice to New Grad Nurse Practitioners:
1. Take your time! Complete thorough histories and physical exams on your patients. Don’t rush through these important steps or you will eventually end up missing something important.
2. Ask Questions! Don’t be afraid to ask questions to other NPs, PAs, or physicians. Remember we were all new grads at some point and somewhere along our journey we have asked the same question you are going to ask us!
3. Study! I kept a little notepad with me at my desk during my first year as a NP. I would write down things I learned during my shift and then when I would get off work...I would research and studies these topics even more when I got home. Yes, this made for long days but I believe it helped me transition into my new role as a provider.
4. Find your support person! You need that one person who will encourage and support you, especially during your first year in practice! It’s going to be tough and stressful! This can be a friend (who does or doesn’t work in healthcare), mother, family member, significant other, coworker, or another provider. Pretty much anyone who can help keep you motivated and smiling! If you are lucky enough find another advanced practice provider (nurse practitioner or physician assistant) in your field of medicine to be your support person, it’s the best!
5. Pick up the patient’s chart with the chief complaint that makes you uncomfortable! The only way you are going to get better at seeing and taking care of these types of patients is through experience. So pick that chart up, go see that patient, ask for help, have your attending physician get involved in the case, discuss your treatment plan with another experienced provider, and never stop trying to learn!