Urgent care clinics love to hire NP’s. The urgent care realm is perfect for new NP grads as well as NP’s with years of experience. It provides a lot of routine along with a touch of unpredictable excitement. To get an idea of what life is like in urgent care, we have asked FNP Kala Sims to share her experiences.
One of the benefits of working as an urgent care NP is that I only work three days a week. Although my days are long, 7am to 7 or 8 pm, I enjoy the flexibility of the three day work week. Being that my clinic is open everyday except Christmas, I do however have to work every other weekend and some holidays. I work with two different doctors who rotate shifts. As an NP with only six months of experience, this has helped me learn because I am exposed to physicians with two very different methods of practice. On weekends I work alone in the clinic alongside two medical assistants but am able to contact a physician at another clinic by phone if I have any questions.
One day last week I arrived at the clinic a 6:55am to find a short line at the door. Patients often come in before and after work so this is a common occurrence. My first patient presents with a small laceration on her left index finger. She was preparing breakfast and while trying to open a package of bacon with a knife, slipped and cut her finger. I examen the wound thoroughly to make sure there are no signs of tendon involvement and determine the laceration will require a few sutures. I irrigate the wound, place 3 sutures in the finger and make sure the medical assistant gives her a tetanus shot. I discharge her with strict instructions to follow up if signs of infection develop.
Next, I care for two children, three-year-old and five-year-old brothers who present with sore throats and fevers. On exam, their tonsils are enlarged and swollen with exudate. Their other sibling has just been diagnosed with strep so I decide to forgo the strep test and treat them both with amoxicillin.
My third patient presents for a workplace injury. Working in urgent care, I treat a lot of work comp patients for injuries such as sprains, strains and contusions. This patient slipped on an unmarked wet floor and twisted her ankle. I order an ankle X-Ray and review the film. No signs of fracture. I ask the medical assistant to place an ACE wrap on the affected ankle, instruct the patient to rest, ice, and elevate her ankle for 2 days. I fill out the forms her employer has sent requesting that she be given a sedentary job until her next follow up when I suspect she will be able to return to regular duty.
The pace at the clinic slows in the afternoon and I take a quick lunch break. While in the break room I notice a flourish of activity at the front of the clinic. A 24 year old male was playing paintball with his friends. He was shot with a few paintballs in the leg and immediately began to get hives and severe shortness of breath. Between labored breaths, he is able to tell us that he is allergic to red dye and thinks the pink paintballs have triggered an allergic reaction. The physician I work with orders the receptionist to call 911 and then immediately gives this patient a shot of epinephrine. His breathing begins to improve and the ambulance arrives to take him to the closest ER to be treated for an anaphylactic reaction.
The afternoon rolls on similar to the morning with routine work comp follow ups, sore throats and cases of bronchitis. At 6:50 I begin to watch the clock. We lock the doors at 7 but any patient that arrives up until 7 gets treated. I hate it when 5 patients walk in at 6:58- it makes for a late night! Luckily, tonight I leave on time and head home for dinner with friends.
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