Q: What made you decide to go to school to become a nurse practitioner?
A: I wanted to further my career because I love working in pediatric endocrinology and there is a nationwide shortage in our field. I also wanted to have a higher salary range so that I could work part-time once I had children of my own.
Q: What type of clinical experience did you have as a nurse prior to becoming a nurse practitioner?
A: Even in kindergarten I knew I wanted to be a nurse. When I was in 5th or 6th grade, I did the dressing changes on my Aunt that had suffered from a self-inflicted gunshot wound – I was the only one in my family that could stand the sight of the wound. At the age of 16 yrs, I took a job as a nursing assistant at a nursing home. I knew that if I could handle that I could definitely be a nurse.
Q: What is the most difficult part of your job?
A: The hardest part of my job is seeing patients and families that cannot afford their medical care. For instance, I have a young patient who has always managed her diabetes with an insulin pump. Now that her Mom has finished school and started working full time, they no longer qualify for Soonercare. Their insurance co-pays for insulin pump supplies are so high that she is going to have to go to injections and take 6 shots a day – she used to insert a pump site every 3 days. How do you explain to a child that insurance costs dictate her diabetes care?
The second hardest part of my job is figuring out how to motivate or convince teens and young adolescents with poor diabetes control to take better care of themselves. One of my co-workers put it correctly when he said, “I feel like a motivational speaker to the uninterested”.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: When patients and families thank me for my help and tell me that I made a difference in their lives – it just doesn’t get any better than that!
Q: What advice do you have for nursing students or other nurses considering an advanced degree in nursing?
A: I believe that nursing is a tremendously rewarding career with opportunities too numerous to count. There are so many areas where nurses are needed that your options are endless. A nursing career has the ability to change and grow as you mature and your interests change. I believe that nurse practitioners not only write a prescription, we take the time to see if it is preferred on your formulary and if you can afford it. We help with patient assistance forms when needed and we educate, educate, and educate some more.
My best advice is to be kind to one another and support each other. Appreciate and listen to your instincts. Remember that YOU are an advocate for your patients. Speak up for yourself – as a new grad and new nurse- I remember being so short staffed on the night shift a couple of times that I thought it was good if I kept the IV’s running and had given the medications. I remember thinking that I hoped I didn’t find anyone dead that wasn’t suppose to die. I was only 19yrs old when I became an RN. If I could do it over again, I would have called the night shift supervisor to demand more help. I didn’t advocate for myself and that meant that I wasn’t being the best advocate I could be for my patients. How fortunate I am that no one suffered as a result of that staffing shortage.