The road from nurse to nurse practitioner (NP) presents new and exciting challenges, from managing complex care on a new team and oftentimes, working in a new environment. Taking this new path involves stepping outside your comfort zone to follow your passion.
In recognition of National NP Week, we spoke with NPs across our hospitals to get a look inside their journey thus far, including lessons learned and how they’re continuing to grow and develop as an NP.
It involves teamwork
As a new NP graduate, it’s important to communicate effectively with other clinicians on the care team – that includes not being afraid to ask questions and providing support to one another. Scott Snorteland, FNP-BC, from North Shore University Hospital feels a support system is crucial to a smooth transition into the role. “Without the help of my supervisor and my colleagues, I don’t know how I would have gotten through the first month. Teamwork is crucial to your role as an NP,” says Scott.
Merin Jacob, MS, ANP-C, who works in Employee Health Services (EHS) for Lenox Hill Hospital believes teamwork is most effective when you’re working with likeminded people. “Working in healthcare, we all have the same goal – to better the health of our patients and take care of each other. It’s important to put their safety and health first, and it makes it easier when you’re surrounded by those likeminded people who have the same goal in mind as you.”
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
When you’re faced with new responsibilities and a new work environment, it can be overwhelming. However, it’s important to get past your insecurities, stay positive and be able to accept those new challenges. Meghan Billia, MS, FNP-C, who practices palliative care at Huntington Hospital found having a mentor helped her get through the first couple of months. “It’s so important to have people to go to and ask for advice or bounce ideas off of. My mentor, Nanci Berg, NP-C, was that person for me and really helped me through that transition period.”
A new challenge can also be exciting. Scott went from an RN in pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center to now working with adults as a family nurse practitioner in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery. “I knew going into this role that it was going to be challenging for me, but that’s partly why I took it. Getting out of your comfort zone and overcoming your fears is how you continue to grow.”
It’s more than clinical work, it’s about making connections
As a NP, making connections with your patients goes far beyond the bedside. You follow patients through a continuum of care – from 1:1 consults in an outpatient office to an inpatient stay, through discharge and back for follow-ups – it goes full circle. You build a sense of trust with your patients and it makes caring for them that more efficient.
Merin says working as an NP in EHS makes her feel like she’s part of a small community. “I spend time talking and building relationships with my patients because I know they may need to come back for follow-ups or new needs. You build a sense of trust with them and it’s a continuity of care outside the walls of the exam room that really makes a difference.”
Continue to grow
Every time you treat a patient, you’re faced with another opportunity to sharpen what you’ve learned. And ongoing education is crucial to being a successful advanced clinical provider. Scott, now seven weeks into his role as an NP, says he’s learned so much and is looking forward to continuing to intellectually challenge himself and advance his career.
“I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned from my first week as an NP to now. Going back to school provided me with the foundation I needed, but it always comes down to the hands-on experience. I’m still learning, and I’m OK with that because it’s how I’ll continue to reach my goals.”
Becoming an NP doesn’t just happen overnight or in orientation, recalls Tova Miller, AGACNP-BC, who practices internal medicine at Forest Hills Hospital. “It’s about understanding what you don’t know and utilizing what you do know. Being confident and continuing to learn helps you understand why we’re doing what we’re doing.”
Let your passion guide you
The hardest days can often leave the greatest impact on your career. It makes you remember why you made the choice to transition into an advanced role and challenge yourself to continue to do better.
“I feel that I’m really making a difference,” says Tova. “I make sure our patients are receiving the best patient care and it’s my goal to get them out of the hospital as soon as possible, and be safe while doing so. As an NP, I know I’m making a positive impact on peoples’ lives and it brings me happiness when I know I’ve done something to improve their quality of life.”
Making the transition is something you have to be ready for, according to Scott. “As challenging as it is some days, it’s equally rewarding. As nurse practitioners, we’re here to be role models and pave the way for higher education for other nurses. I’m excited I took this leap to advance my career and I hope others take the opportunity to do so.”