Looking Back on My 6th Year as a Nurse Practitioner

Each year, my husband and I set goals. We reflect on the past year, and plan for the future. Where do we want to be in our careers? What do we want our lives to look like? My favorite goal we have set thus far (and totally crushed!)? To take advantage of Nashville’s live music scene at least once a month for an entire year. Talk about some fun date nights. When it comes to my life as an NP, I like to do some similar evaluating and goal-setting.

This summer marks my sixth year practicing as a nurse practitioner. Some days it seems like it was more like six weeks ago that I was walking down the aisle at my nurse practitioner pinning ceremony. Other days, I feel like I have been practicing for twenty years, my experience and education meshing perfectly. The best thing about this year as an NP has been that although I have been in practice for over five years, and at the same job for more than three, I am continuing to learn and be challenged.

I have been fortunate in the fact that the hospital where I work has grown with me. When I first started working in the emergency department, the ED was busy but not overwhelming and I had plenty of help. Now, the emergency department is busier than ever and with my years of experience I can handle the pressure. Our fast track has become a “super track” and neighboring CCU beds have been converted to expand the ED. The constant push to improve in different ways, whether it be to work more efficiently or treat sicker patients, keeps me from getting bored and spurs my continued learning and improvement. I highly recommend finding a job where you can do the same.

Recently, the hospital where I work also received a level II trauma center designation. As a result, our patient volumes have increased and my time spent in the ER ismore hectic than ever. With the trauma transition, I have been called on to see higher acuity patients. I don’t treat the most serious trauma victims, but when doctors are tied up seeing these patients, I step in to help with sicker non-trauma patients. Bring on the complex lacerations and respiratory distress! I’ve got it covered.

Although I am (finally) mature in my NP practice, I have room for improvement. In the clinical setting, my goal for the year is to take advantage of my hospital’s new status and improve my practice in everything trauma related. Additionally, I hope to become a mentor to newer NPs in the ER. Many of my nursing colleagues are graduating from nurse practitioner programs this summer and I hope to help facilitate a supportive environment for their practice helping them continue to grow and learn as well.

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As nurse practitioners, it can be easy to let our careers stagnate, to become comfortable in our practices and neglect seeking out new learning opportunities. I encourage you to identify a few actions you can take to challenge yourself and keep improving as well.

What are your goals as a nurse practitioner this year?


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