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Could you describe one of your typical work day as a nurse practitioner?


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Ann’s Answer

I worked in a Family Practice office for many years. My hours were from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday-Friday. I saw everything from newborns (until a pediatrician came on board) to the very old person. I saw a patient every 15 minutes for routine things, like follow up visits for high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, depression, medication refills-many stable chronic diseases. I also saw acute things like the flu, ear aches, strep throat. I would have 30 minute visits for well child checks/sports physicals/regular physicals/women's gyn physicals. Basically getting a history, checking the patient out with whatever physical exams were needed, ordered lab work and xrays, coming up with a treatment plan, and then going over it with the patient. I did a lot of counseling, not just on the treatment plan but also on life issues in general. I worked with 6 other physicians in our location so there was always someone I could talk to if I wasn't sure what was going on with someone.

So, I might see someone for a blood pressure check, followed by someone in for a diabetes check, followed by someone who was having some sort of pain that needed to be worked up, followed by someone with a skin issue that needed treating, followed by a female needing a pap, followed by a child needing shots, followed by someone who was acutely ill. The schedule was different every day.

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Sarah’s Answer

I am an FNP, but currently work in an Urgent care setting. Most urgent care (and ER) shifts are about 10-12 hours depending on where you work. The clinic I work at sees anywhere from 20-40 people a day. Anything can walk in the door including: lacerations, broken bones, rashes, sinus infections, cold/flu symptoms, anxiety, and more. I occasionally call 911 for more acute medical emergencies (stroke, heart attack, etc.) as I am not set up to treat acute patients in an outpatient setting. I generally spend about 10 minutes with each patient to assess what they are there for and to come up with a treatment plan (i.e. medications, referral to a specialist, brace/boot/crutches, breathing treatments, etc). Once I am finished with a patient visit, I document the visit and move on to the next person. Some days are busier than others and I see patients back to back. During COVID, but job has also involved a lot more telemedicine where I spend about 10-15 minute on a Zoom call with a patient evaluating their complaint and providing education.
Because of the urgent care setting, I manage mostly episodic complaints and very few chronic health conditions. I occasionally will see a patient for a blood pressure problem to refill medication if they are visiting from out of town or their PCP is not available. These patient encounters are rare and I mostly just see minor acute problems.

I would recommend looking into different NP specialties and see which sounds the most interesting to you and then try to shadow someone who is in that setting. Different NP specialties include: Pediatrics (both acute and Primary care), Family, Adult-gerontological, Adult-gerontological acute care, Women's health, and Nurse Midwifery. I personally chose the FNP since I wanted to treat people from all ages in an outpatient setting. I am also currently working on my Emergency NP certification, which is an additional credential available to FNPs who want to work in an emergency setting. If you are looking for an inpatient nursing role, I would look more at the Acute Care NP specialties.

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