What drew your interest into becoming a NP?
I had always been interested in the NP role. I had some great experiences with NPs as a college student, as a volunteer at Planned Parenthood and in my first job at a local health department. It took me a while to finally take the plunge. I think I was intimidated by all of the sciences you need, but I got more confident and ended up really enjoying the years of science courses as I got older! I think of the NP role as an activist role - a health care provider who breaks down barriers between patients and the health care system, a person who cares for the whole being and not just their immediate health concern and someone who combines the best of medicine and nursing - or who tries to at least.
What is your worst pet peeve with the health care system?
I think that a big frustration of mine regarding the health care system is that our system isn't really set up to help people change deleterious health behaviors. We have very little opportunity for prevention. And even though we fail as a nation in preventing chronic disease,etc, the health care system is a huge financial drain. This is a short answer to a very nuanced question, of course. There are so many aspects that go into it. I think that public health does play a huge role in prevention and that providers and public health practitioners, along with city planners and school districts, need to come together to create healthy communities. It's hard to be healthy in an unhealthy environment.
What do you think of the continuing NP vs PA vs MD issues?
I have to confess that I am so not interested in the PA vs. NP vs. MD debate. Their are good and bad providers, no matter what the professional designation. I do think that there should not be any programs that do not require a master's degree or higher. I think that looks quite bad for the profession.
If you could go back and change something about your education as a NP, what would it be?Do you feel that you were prepared for practice by your program?
If I were to change my NP education, it would be that I would just have had more of it. I think that an NP residency is a great idea. A combination of inpatient and outpatient, 1-2 years. I think that more clinical time is the route that the DNP should have taken, not the more classroom time. Having said that, I think that my institution did a fine job of training me. I certainly still learn new things, but I feel like I entered my clinic as an above average novice NP.
What advice would you give those who are considering NP?
I have too much advice to share with those considering the NP route, but for NP students I would say this: learn how to write a friggin good SOAP note.
Do you still enjoy your work? Burn out an issue?
I enjoy my work very much, but I did not enjoy it as a full-time provider in a busy clinic. I was absolutely burnt out -- to the point that I was regretting my decision to go into clinical health care. Part-time research and part-time clinical is really a dream combination for me.
How many hours do you actually put in a week vs how many you actually get paid for?
I work about 45-50 hours per week and, now that I am hourly at my clinical site, I get paid for all of them. When I was salaried, I worked about 45-50 hours per week and was paid for 40.
Do you have hospital privileges or do you even want them?
I don't currently have hospital privileges and I am OK with that. I am open to having them in the future if the job requires it.
Do you have narcotic prescription ability or do you wish that you didn't?
Our clinical practice policy is not to write for narcotics, given that we are in a horribly crime-ridden area. That being said, there are exceptions and I do write them on an infrequent basis. I have no qualms about it with known patients, but am hesitant with new patients.
What is one thing that you would change about yourself as a provider?
If I could change one thing about me as a provider - oh - I would just have the correct tools in my bag for all of my patients. I would know all the differentials, I would be able to really help all of them. And I wouldn't stress out so easily! Two things - both impossible for a type A person like me!
Why do you blog?
I blog because I love to write, I really, really love it. I thought about being a journalist long before I went into health care. Reading and writing have been near and dear to my heart since I was young. Writing about this crazy job of mine is therapeutic, it helps me to blow off stress and I think that the response to the blog indicates that my experience resonates with many other providers. And when I started, there were very few NP voices with blogs like mine. A professor at the medical school where I went to nursing school suggested that I start a blog and voila! newFNP was born.
Do you find yourself looking at your sitemeter (if you have one) too many times a day?
I look at my sitemeter daily. Obviously, I like it when it's higher. Purely ego - there is no advertising or anything on the blog. I'm in it for the art!
How much time do you read other's blogs?
I read other blogs occasionally, but they are usually about fashion, nutrition, beauty - stuff removed from medicine and nursing. I read other nursing sites from time to time, not too many medical sites. I read the New York Times health blog a lot!
Do you respond to your commenters on your blog? Is it important?
I always respond to direct emails from people to newFNP. I generally don't respond to the comments. If I feel that I or someone about whom I have written has been attacked or misunderstood in a comment, then I will respond. Some of the comments have just been hurtful or have misrepresented the blog post and those I especially try to ignore, but I do keep the posts up. I have taken down a couple then could be construed as racist or otherwise offensive, but mostly I just figure that freedom of speech is allowed at newFNP. I mean, I am certainly putting some thoughts out there that people don't always like! However, the responses to my blog have been overwhelmingly supportive, something for which I am thankful.
If you enjoyed this interview, please pop over to NewFNP's blog and let her know! Also, if you want more, leave me a comment.