What’s A Day in the Life of A Nurse Practitioner Really Like?

Check out my guest blog entry on the HEALTHeCAREERS helps nurse practitioners among other healthcare professionals find jobs.  I would highly recommend looking at their website the next time you are seeking employment.

I wake up early, take my dog for a jog and then sip a cup of coffee while I watch the morning news.  I write a blog entry for my website, ThriveAP, which helps aspiring nurse practitioners choose a nurse practitioner program. I don’t have to be at work today until 10 which is nice. I shower, put on some scrubs and then drive to the hospital. I work in an emergency department in Nashville, TN.
Once at work, I hit the ground running. There is rarely a slow day in the ER and today is no exception. I pick up two charts and and immediately begin seeing patients. My first patient is a 31 year old male with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. My second is a 65 year old female with chest pain. Good start, these are very routine patients, I know exactly what to do. I head back to my desk and begin putting in orders; a chest X-Ray, EKG, labs, nitro and aspirin for the woman with chest pain, IV fluids and zofran for the patient with vomiting. I pause to review an EKG as the nurse slides it onto my desk.
As I start to document my history, physical and exam findings, I hear another chart being placed in the rack and leave my desk to get the chart and see the next patient. A 29 year old male with shortness of breath. Should be straightforward; usually males in their 20’s are fairly healthy and not complex patients.
As I enter the room, I see that I am wrong. This guy looks sick, but why? His chest X-Ray looks terrible; extensive right sided pneumonia and developing pneumonia in the left lower lung. After questioning him further, I find he is an IV drug user which could be the reason for the extensive infection. A CT scan of his chest shows he may have septic emboli and there is also concern for endocarditis. An interesting case to say the least.
I am at my desk catching up on some charting and eating a quick snack when one of the nurses asks for a provider (MD, NP or PA where I work) to quickly see the patient in room 3. An ambulance has brought in a patient with abdominal pain, vomiting and a blood pressure of 75/35. Not good. I quickly get up and go see the patient. I order IV fluids and labwork. I also notify my supervising physician that I have an unstable patient and ask him to go take a look. He confirms I have the right treatment plan and asks me to keep him updated on the patient’s condition.
Finally, 6 p.m. arrives. I have had a busy, but good day. I’ve seen 18 patients and have sutured two lacerations, drained two abscesses and admitted four patients to the hospital. This has been a pretty typical day in my life as a nurse practitioner.
I love working as a nurse practitioner. My job is interesting, challenging and fun. I work hard, but am able to have a flexible schedule. I highly recommend a career as a nurse practitioner to anyone interested in healthcare. To learn more about becoming a nurse practitioner, the nurse practitioner profession, or to purchase the 2012 Guide to Nurse Practitioner Programs from ThriveAP.com.  To see the latest nurse practitioner job openings, visit HEALTHeCAREERS.com.

3 thoughts on “What’s A Day in the Life of A Nurse Practitioner Really Like?”

  1. Hi there,

    I am a first time visitor of your blog. I am an RN student, with aspirations to enter a DNP program to become a Nurse Practitioner. I am in my first year student, with excelling grades, and I am sometimes worried that I won’t be able to know it all. For instance, I wouldn’t know what endocarditis looks like, at all. I like to think of myself as a deep thinker. I understand everything we have been taught in our first year with added depth that is frankly unparalleled in my class.

    How does the graduate program, in only two years, teach you all of this valuable information? My concern is that this is a lofty goal, and I may be behind in my abilities to realize this goal. Any information about your educational pathway and experience will help me greatly. Thank you.

    All the best,

  2. I am a current ADN nursing student! I graduate in 15 days!!!! I have aspirations of becoming a DNP/FNP in the future. Im currently 20 years old and have job offers in the CVICU and the ER!

    Which I type of experience do you think will benefit me most in the future?

    I did my senior practicum on a CVICU, but I’ve worked as a Float Pool CNA, PRN, for going on 3 years and was primarily placed in the ER. I love the ER! I Loce cardiac as well. I am starting a RN to BSN program in July. It’s my goal to become a nurse practitioner by the time im 24 or 25.

    I love nursing, even if I become an FNP, I will do my best to work PRN as a RN, because I love the bedside aspect of care and I don’t want to lose my “skill”. Do you think I need to take it slower? Into instructors say that it is best for me to not put a long pause in my education as it can be very easy for anyone to become “content”. I am often told that someone like me (20 year old, single, African-American, male, with no kids or disabled family members that need major care and attention) should take advantage of my status as soon and for as long as I can.

    I really want to eventually. after starting off in a well grounded clinic or practice, get into the retail/convenient care clinic model. I love the idea of bringing healthcare to the patients instead of the other way around.

  3. Hi Patrick,

    Congratulations on your job offers!  It sounds like you are very excited about beginning your career.  Like your instructors, I think it is a good idea to continue with your education without taking a break as long as you can.  Once you quit going to school and start working it is much harder to go back.  

    As far as the CVICU and ER job offers, either sounds like an excellent opportunity.  I would choose the job you are most interested in.  If you think you want to work primarily in the ER in the future, then choose ER.  If you see yourself in more of an ICU setting as a nurse practitioner, choose the ICU.  Even if you change your mind in the future, both jobs will give you good experience.

    Good luck!

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