It’s National NP Week 2017 (#NPweek), and Weatherby Healthcare is celebrating the commitment and professionalism of our nationwide nurse practitioner community. Donna Wolfe manages post-op cardiac patients in the ICU. We had the chance to talk with Donna and ask her what she loves most about being a nurse practitioner. Her answers pull back the curtain on four big advantages that make the NP lifestyle so rewarding.
1. Nurse Practitioners get more time to listen
One thing that Donna especially loves about being an NP is the time that she gets to listen to her patients. It gives her the opportunity to learn more about what’s going on in their daily lives and how things like stress, anxiety, or family life impact their overall health.
Donna says, “NPs are not as quick to prescribe and tend to have more time to get to the root of their patients’ medical issues. I have the luxury of saying ‘let’s talk about what’s causing this.’ I want patients to realize that I do have a little bit more time to sit down and listen to what they’re saying, figure out what’s going on, and maybe follow up on it a little sooner than a physician could.”
2. Schooling can be a better lifestyle fit
For Donna, the NP path was more direct and got her doing the work she loved sooner. “I originally wanted to be a physician,” Donna says. “With two kids at home, and nursing school as the only viable education option close to where I lived, it made more sense to get my bachelor’s in nursing and go for my NP.” Donna also finds the credentialing process a lot less stressful. She says, “NPs keep their certifications active through continuing education, but don’t have to retake boards or other testing requirements like physicians or PAs.”
3. Practice options can be more flexible
Donna loves the flexibility of her profession. “If you don’t like what you’re doing, you always can change it. I can practice in an office setting if I want, I can teach, there’s a lot of different things you can do with an NP degree. With physicians, it seems that they tend to be more stuck in one practice area.”
“Because cardiology is my hot button, I can choose to work with a cardiologist as an NP, where a physician would have to compete for a fellowship to get into that specialty,” Donna explains. “I love having that professional flexibility.” Although Donna is currently working in a permanent position, she saw a distinct advantage to the locum tenens assignments she worked through Weatherby. “It makes you more marketable, because you get experience with different people, practice settings, and even computer systems.”
4. A chance to build trust and save lives
One of the most moving stories Donna tells is about a patient who needed a Left Ventricular Assist Device. “She had basically been sent home to die. She had heart failure and she was too old for the transplant list, but not for the LVAD.” Donna explained this option to the patient and she ended up having it done. “She came back to visit me after her surgery and rehab and said ‘thank you for saving my life.’ It’s humbling to know that patients trust you that much.” These are the kinds of outcomes that keep everyone at Weatherby fired up about what they do.
“It’s the patients,” Donna says without hesitation when we ask her what part of being a nurse practitioner means the most to her. “I love seeing how much better people get when I’m able to spend a few extra minutes helping them understand what they’re supposed to do to get well.” Donna wishes that more patients knew about the dedication that NPs have when it comes to staying current on new treatments, technologies, and medications. It’s something we already know about Donna, because we see it every day in the work she does, along with all of the other expert nurse practitioners who take locum tenens assignments through Weatherby.