Career Story: Perinatal Nurse Practitioner

Perinatal Nurse Practitioner

Job Title: Nurse Practitioner Perinatal Specialty

Education: BS in Nursing Fairfield University •• MSN Regis University •• Certificate in Midwifery University Health Sciences Center Denver CO

Previous Experience: I was a staff nurse on Labor and Delivery for 3 ears before entering the practitioner program. I also had 1 year cardiology experience and 3 years on a medical floor prior to moving to Labor and Delivery.

Job Tasks: My primary responsibilities are to make medical decisions regarding patient care. Perinatology is the care of women with high risk pregnancies. We work to keep women pregnant for as long as possible then work to safely deliver their babies. The hospital unit is called Labor and Delivery and has a large high risk population. Women are flown from three surrounding state so their babies can born in a facility with a Neonatology unit capable of caring for their babies.

My job entails admitting the patients when they arrive. This means taking a complete medical history and doing a physical exam on the patient. Then I write their admission orders. This includes the activity level they can have (most often bedrest), ordering the medications to be given to them, ordering what blood work should be drawn and any tests if needed. Then I review the blood work and test results then update the Perinatologist who is on duty that day with any abnormal results.

Each day I am on duty I also do rounds on all the inpatients. They are asked questions about the pregnancy, the baby and their emotions. I review the fetal monitor tracing which is a printout of the baby's heart rate and any contractions they may be having. I then write a note about their answers and the heart rate tracing. At this time I will adjust the medication, order new test, and/or change activity levels as needed.

The nurses care for the patient and will call me during the day with questions or concerns. I will directly answer the question or go see the patient to re-evaluate them then answer the question. The job entails educating the patient and family about treatment plans and long term plans.

I work in collaboration with the Perinatologists. I help with surgical procedures. First assisting with cesarean sections (delivering the baby by surgery) which means I help the doctor do the surgery and with cerclage placements(stitches placed in the cervix to reinforce the cervix and prolong the pregnancy).

Each day is different, with different patients and different problems. This is a great job.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is each day is a little different. Helping each patient to understand what is happening is rewarding.

The worst part of the job is we are not able to save all the pregnancies and some of the babies die. They are too early to survive and we are unable to prolong their pregnancies to the point of survival. Other times we have been able to just get them to survival and the babies die in the neonatal ICU or have long term damage.

Job Tips: First become a nurse and work on labor and delivery then start working on your practitioner degree in woman's health or midwifery. I would make sure working with pregnant, high-risk women is what you want to do - that it is a passion and something you love before you do this or any other practitioner job.

Additional Thoughts: There is a great deal of responsibility that goes with being a nurse practitioner of any kind. It is a fantastic job if you are up for the responsibility. Your patients depend on you to make the right medical choices for them.

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