What do you do for a living?
I am a family nurse practitioner.
How would you describe what you do?
I do house calls. Primary care in people’s homes or at work.
What does your work entail?
Going to people’s homes, doing physical exams, educating people, ordering and interpreting lab and imaging tests, coordinating other services that are needed in the home, emailing/texting/speaking with patients on the phone.
What’s a typical work week like?
I usually see about 20 patients a week. Some time spent in the office, most of the time on my bike between people’s homes.
How did you get started?
I went right into nursing school out of high school. Went back to graduate school 3 years later. I’ve been a nurse practitioner now since 1998, 5 years ago, I left the clinic I was working at to do house calls.
What do you like about what you do?
I LOVE being out on my bike, I love that I get to spend more time with my patients. I love having control over my schedule. I love that every day is a little bit different.
What do you dislike?
Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork.
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
I use a billing company to send out bills to insurance companies. Payment is based on time/complexity of the visit.
How much money do Nurse Practitioners make?
Varies nationwide, but approx $85,000/yr
How much money do Nurse Practitioners make starting out?
What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?
Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing and a Master’s or Doctorate in Nursing.
What is most challenging about what you do?
Finding time to communicate well with patients and family, managing all the paperwork and documentation involved.
What is most rewarding?
Knowing that I’ve made someone’s life a bit better, prevented an ER visit, given them more power/control over their lives and health.
What advice would you offer someone considering becoming a nurse practitioner?
Do it. If you love medicine, impacting lives, education, this might be for you. I do think getting experience as a nurse in whatever field inspires you (or a medical/surgical floor if you don’t know) is a great idea. It really helps cement not only your own gifts and interests, but is good basic knowledge. That will help guide you towards inpatient vs outpatient care.
How much time off do you get/take?
I work for myself, so I can take off whatever I need. I do have to consider finding adequate coverage for my patients however, so, self-employment isn’t all glamour…
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
The biggest misconception is probably not knowing what scope of practice nurse practitioners have, what they can and cannot do, etc.
A family nurse practitioner, at least in the state of Washington, can practice independently. This varies from state to state. Many choose solo or group NP and MD outpatient practice, others work inpatient in an acute care setting. NP’s can order and interpret labwork and other tests, write prescriptions and refer to specialists much like you would expect when you “go to the doctor”. NP’s tend to have a wholistic approach with a focus on education and prevention.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
I would love to have a few more nurse practitioners working with me, I’d love to expand the services that are available for those that are confined to their homes. I want to be a great mom while I’m at it.