Career Story: Adult Nurse Practitioner

Adult Nurse Practitioner

Job Title: Adult Nurse Practitioner

Type of Company: I work for an adult internal medicine practice north of Boston.

Education: BS, Biology & Psychology, Boston College •• MA, Nursing, Massachusetts General Institute of Health Professions

Previous Experience: I worked as a Nursing Assistant in a "step-down," telemetry unit at a local hospital until I got my nursing degree. I continued working in that unit as an RN for a year and half until I finished my master's degree. After sitting for my NP Boards, I started working for an area cardiology/internal medicine practice where I remained for seven years before taking my current job.

Job Tasks: As an adult nurse practitioner, my primary responsibilities include providing preventive health care to patients ages 16-99+. I perform annual health screenings to ensure optimal patient health. I encourage and teach healthy lifestyle changes involving exercise, healthy dietary choices and cancer screenings.

In addition to caring for the healthy, I also see many patients daily with illnesses across a broad spectrum, including diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. I am able to diagnose, order appropriate testing and prescribe medication. Educating patients about disease, medications and therapies is a big part of my practice. If I were seeing a patient who'd just recovered from a heart attack, for example, I would review his medication list and discuss the problems he was having with his meds. We'd talk about his exercise program and ways to decrease the stresses in his life. I'd make sure that he was not smoking. I'd perform a physical exam and, depending on what I found, order testing or follow-up appointments with other doctors.

My daily routine includes seeing 17-20 patients, reviewing testing and lab work and doing telephone triage. Patients call into the office with concerns or problems and we evaluate their situation over the phone. At times, I have to consult with other medical professionals like physical therapists, psychologists or visiting nurses to ensure total patient care.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is that I am able to take care of people. I consider that a privilege. I see people at their best and at their worst. I can help them when they are scared and comfort them when they are sad. I get to celebrate their recoveries and assist them as they recuperate. I like the fact that no two days are the same (even if they're sometimes pretty similar). It is exciting to try and figure out what is wrong with a patient and even more exciting to see that what you do for them makes them feel better.

The worst part of my job is that, at times, there are patients whom I cannot make better. It is never easy to watch someone die. But the good thing is that as a Nurse Practitioner, I can provide them with medications and services to make them more comfortable as the quietus approaches.

Job Tips: Try to get experience in a medical setting such as a hospital or a nursing home so you can interact with the medical staff and patients. It gives you exposure to sick people and ways to care for them. While doing your nursing rotations, ask to see different procedures, look to work with challenging patients, expose yourself to a variety of situations -- see as much as you can see. If you can, continue to work in medicine as you go through school. There is nothing like a real example to explain what you are learning in your books. Once you become a nurse, try to get a job at a teaching hospital. This type of setting encourages learning while providing great opportunities for exposure to different kinds of nursing

Additional Thoughts: If I could change one thing, I would have gone through my undergraduate education in nursing. I would have graduated and gone to work as a nurse to gain clinical experience and then would have gone back for my masters. I think the more clinical experience you have, the better prepared you are.

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