Working as a dermatology nurse practitioner is a pretty sweet gig. Not only does dermatology rank among the highest paying specialties for nurse practitioners, derm clinics typically maintain traditional office hours leaving you with weekends, holidays and evenings completely free- a rarity in the medical profession. Furthermore, it’s rare that a dermatologic emergency occurs meaning on-call responsibilities are pretty much nil. Still not convinced life as a derm NP could be right for you? We’ve got a firsthand look at the profession.
I get a lot of questions about what life as a dermatology nurse practitioner looks like so today I’ve asked Andrea, an FNP working in a dermatology clinic here in Nashville to give us some insight into her day to day job responsibilities. Take it away, Andrea!
My day starts early. Usually, I wake up around 5am so I can log a few miles on the treadmill before my husband and 2 year-old daughter wake up. My husband’s workday starts a bit later than mine so he takes care of early morning kid-related responsibilities while I cover after work childcare logistics. I take a quick shower, pack a lunch and head out the door. The dermatology practice where I work opens at either 7 am or 8 am depending on the day of the week. I try to arrive a few minutes early to call patients back regarding lab and pathology results and get settled before the madness of my day begins.
Appointments at our practice are scheduled every 15 minutes and it seems like every slot is always full. Unfortunately, I have to admit, I work in one of those practices that always seems to be running behind. I work alongside 4 other physicians and 2 other nurse practitioners. We frequently refer patients to each other depending on their needs. Nurse practitioners where I work have a lot of freedom including that of hiring and managing their own staff. If one of my assigned medical assistants leaves the practice, I must find a replacement and pick up the slack until I do so. While these managerial responsibilities can be stressful, I feel much more engaged in the clinic’s success than I have in prior NP positions I have held. The added challenge and learning experience is appreciated.
Anyway, my day begins with appointment, after appointment, after appointment. I do mix of medical dermatology and cosmetic procedures. My first patient, for example, might present for an annual skin check. I systematically examen and document the size and location of the patient’s moles and markings based on their appearance. If I identify an area of concern I may perform a biopsy or excise the mole or lesion completely. I love doing procedures– mole removal etc., it keeps my day interesting.
My next patient may be a middle aged woman (or man) looking for a way to reduce unsightly forehead wrinkles. After examining her skin and face, I recommend Botox as the best treatment for the desired result. I carefully measure out where I will place the injections. I am very familiar with the facial muscles. This is important so I don’t inject in the wrong area causing an eyelid droop or other undesired effect. I place 4 tiny injections symmetrically across the patient’s forehead letting her know it will take about 2 weeks for the Botox to take full effect.
Next, I see an older man with severe psoriasis. I have been treating him for a few months now since he was referred to my clinic by his primary care provider. Since trying a few new medications his symptoms have improved.
When my lunch break arrives, it isn’t much of a break. I usually eat at my desk while I call patients back with biopsy results and catch up on charting. After my lunch break, I continue to treat patients for everything from acne and eczema to hyperhydrosis. I perform biopsies, excisions and cryotherapy. For patients presenting for cosmetic reasons I may perform laser treatments or Botox. Our clinic also has an adjacent cosmetic area staffed by an aesthetician where I frequently refer patients presenting to the clinic for cosmetic reasons.
My clinic closes at 5pm. As long as I have used my time wisely before work and during my lunch break I leave around 5:30pm. I head to my daughter’s daycare to pick her up and then home to spend time with my family. While my day in the clinic can get a little hectic I only work three and a half days a week so it is a very sustainable pace for me.
I have enjoyed specializing in dermatology. Even though I have a focused practice area, I get variety in my practice in that I see patients for both medical and cosmetic reasons. My schedule is very accommodating when it comes to having a family which is important to me. I would definitely recommend a career in dermatology to other nurse practitioners.
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