Is the FNP Program Right for You?

Is the FNP Program Right for You?

The family nurse practitioner (FNP) credential is a popular choice for nurses considering the right academic path to becoming nurse

While nurses can choose a route that addresses more specific populations, such as a pediatric NP, a psychiatric NP, or an adult-gerontology NP, the FNP offers an opportunity to treat patients across the lifespan—from infants to centenarians.

In fact, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), 70 percent of nurse practitioners are FNPs.

The appeal of the FNP is rooted in both the patient care opportunities and the professional autonomy the FNP offers. “The premise behind the FNP is to provide holistic care for all individuals,” says Julia M. Steed, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC, CTTS, academic director of the Family Nurse Practitioner Specialty and assistant professor at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. She says that FNPs focus on an approach that emphasizes health prevention and promotion appropriate for different lifestyles and cultures. It’s an approach that’s useful in many healthcare settings.

Nurses choose a path for many reasons, often based on a mix of personal and occupational experiences, says Tearsanee Carlisle Davis, DNP, FNP-BC, PMHNP-BC, FAANP, the director of Clinical Programs and Strategy at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) Center for Telehealth and an associate professor at UMMC. “Originally, I entered a nurse educator program because of my love for teaching,” Davis says. “However, after the first day, I knew I loved patient care more. I switched programs and became an FNP. One of the main reasons for my choice was my hometown and the needs of the people there. I knew that nurse practitioners were the answer, and I was excited to become a part of something that could change people’s health.”

Jo Loomis, DNP, FNP-C, CHSE, CLC, ANLC, NCMP, CNL, associate professor in the School of Nursing and Health Professions at the University of San Francisco, realized that her original midwifery plan would better serve her if she could do what she found was pulling at her—being able to care for the whole family. Nursing students, she says, can keep an open mind as they are moving through clinical settings that will include other NP areas, such as pediatrics or women’s health, and can pay special attention to the especially appealing areas—or notice if they all are.

Loomis says that as an FNP, a nurse can have a broad scope of everything that may contribute to a patient’s health. They focus on the tenets of health promotion, risk aversion, and disease prevention. “They take it all into consideration,” Loomis says, including that other factors might influence a care plan or other people involved. She says the role consists of listening to the patient’s health concerns and what is happening in their lives.

The FNP is an excellent choice for many nurses, but not all. If nurses are trying to decide the best credential, Davis says to remember what is truly important. “I believe [nurses] should answer their ‘why’ for advancing their education first,” she says. They will be more successful if they can prioritize what makes them tick. “I believe that by knowing their reason for choosing a path, they will understand the responsibility that comes with it,” she says. The FNP, says Steed, includes a little bit of everything, which gives an FNP the ability to adapt to different patients and settings. Steed has used her FNP as a practicing nurse in areas ranging from chiropractic to urgent care to weight loss.

Finding the right academic program to earn an FNP is essential to a nurse’s success. Many factors influence the decision, and each nurse will have different priorities. The final decision includes determining what will work for course delivery (online or on campus), cost, location, and the length of the program. However, while the school’s reputation and the strength of the faculty are top-of-the-list fundamentals, a flexible approach will be helpful. Automatically thinking the shortest program is the best can be detrimental. “It takes time to learn the role and become fully equipped as an NP,” says Loomis.

Steed also recommends that nurses look into the student support available. Supports include all the assistance a grad student needs, including library help, career coaching, and even grad services counseling. Assessing what kind of research the schools faculty members are working on and possibly reaching out to them individually also offers insight into what opportunities will be available as an FNP student.

Davis, who has used her FNP in settings as diverse as private practice, community health, emergency medicine, and academia, recommends putting in some work before making a decision. “I think they should study it and talk with others who have been successful on the journey,” she says.

This crucial role allows nurses to make meaningful and measurable changes for families in their communities. In practice settings, the FNP, with a broad understanding of all ages and health conditions, is an expert in triaging what is within their scope to treat and what might need additional expertise or specialists.

Once nurses are in practice as FNPs, they are often rewarded with seeing the change that comes from their work. “For me, it was the satisfaction of knowing I was meeting a real need in the community. Nurses are often the ones who connect with the patients and family. As an NP, I felt better prepared to educate and provide care. My FNP experience opened many doors for me, many of which I could have never imagined,” Davis adds.

WOC Nurses Week Highlights Specialty

WOC Nurses Week Highlights Specialty

Wound, Ostomy, and Continence (WOC) Nurse Week runs from April 14-20 and brings attention to this nursing specialty and the expertise WOC nurses bring to patient care. logo saying WOC Nurses Rock for WOC nurses week

As a member of the Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurses Society™ (WOCN®) for 31 years and now its president, Vicky Pontieri-Lewis, MS, RN, ACNS-BC-CWOCN, says the field is exciting and ever changing. This kind of dynamic professional learning environment brings a career satisfaction that keeps her advocating for nurses in the specialty while also appreciating the continual work they must do to stay current of WOC developments.

Pontieri-Lewis shared some of her thoughts with Minority Nurse about the career path and the excitement of being in the broader field of WOC nursing.

How did your career as a WOC nurse begin and evolve?
After graduating from nursing school in 1983, I had the opportunity to work on a surgical unit with patients who underwent cardiac surgery in addition to patients who also had abdominal surgery, with an ostomy. The unit had an Enterostomal Therapy (ET) nurse, now called a Wound, Ostomy, and Continence nurse, who consulted primarily to patients with an ostomy. I noticed when the charge nurse was making daily patient care assignments, none of my colleagues wanted to care for the patients with ostomies. So, I always volunteered to have the ostomy patients within my assignment.

I worked with the ET nurse at the time to ensure in her absence that I would provide the ostomy patients with the right education. Later that year, my grandmother who lived in a very small remote town in the mountains, was diagnosed with colon cancer. She underwent surgery and as a result had a colostomy. I went to visit her and was appalled by the lack of access she had to any type of ostomy pouching system. At one point she was using a plastic bag! I tried my best to get her access to what we used in the United States so she could have some quality of life.

When I returned, the ET nurse at the hospital announced that she would be leaving. After the experience with my grandmother, I knew I wanted to pursue the role of an ET nurse. I went to my administrator to inquire if the hospital could assist with the finances to attend ET school. After I wrote a proposal for financial funding, the hospital agreed to send me to ET school for 6 weeks, and in return I signed a contract that I would stay at the hospital for one year after becoming certified.

Thirty-eight years later I was still at the same facility, and it became a major academic university trauma medical center. I developed the full scope of the WOC nurse role at the facility and then the advanced practice role. I had no idea at the time how the roles would expand to consulting so many patients with ostomies, wounds of all types, and continence needs. Going to ET school was the best path I took in my nursing career. I have dedicated most of my nursing career to being a WOC nurse, and I absolutely love what I do!!

What attracted you to this specialty?
As I shared above, I have a “love” for caring for patients with an ostomy. My grandmother was my inspiration and I always have the memory of her on my shoulder when caring for patients with an ostomy. Caring for patients with different types of wounds was ever-evolving as new technologies and products were being developed. It was almost like baby boomers, but “wound care boomers.” Each time I attended a conference there was something new and exciting being presented.

As the role of the WOC Nurse continued to grow and develop in healthcare systems, so did the WOCN®, the largest and most recognized professional nursing community dedicated to advancing the practice and delivery of expert healthcare to individuals with wound, ostomy, and continence care needs. The WOC nurse conferences began to include more evidenced-based lectures and presentations, more research was being done, and notably­, products were being developed across the specialty.

What would inspire nursing students to consider this specialty as a career path?
Nursing students across the country would be inspired to pursue a career path to be a WOC nurse by simply talking to and spending time with a WOC nurse. Nursing students today are thirsty for knowledge on how to manage wounds and skin integrity, and to educate patients with an ostomy.

Spending a day or two with a WOC nurse can provide a realistic insight into the scope of the role. Nursing students will undoubtedly be dazzled by the wealth of knowledge and expertise that WOC nurses possess, and the extent of how that knowledge and expertise contributes directly to patient care and quality outcomes. The role of the WOC nurse can be in an inpatient or outpatient setting, allowing one to work independently, and be innovative in the care delivered. Overall, the impact of the role is inspiring and rewarding and it can be a lifelong career filled with continuous learning and professional development.

What might surprise people about your role, all you do, and your connections with your patients?
The role of the WOC nurse is very rewarding. WOC nurses can work with all members of the healthcare team to improve the outcomes of patients. Since the scope of practice is very specialized, WOC nurses are viewed as the experts and are consistently relied on not only by the healthcare team, but by patients as well.

I had the opportunity to form an in-depth connection with patients from providing support and guidance, to sometimes just lending an ear to listen to their concerns and healthcare needs. Overall, the in-depth connection, the breadth of education that is provided, and the ongoing support is the most satisfying—especially when you can see the impact that you have had on someone’s life.

Honoring Radiology Nurses Day on April 12

Honoring Radiology Nurses Day on April 12

Radiology  Nurses Day, also known as Radiological and Imaging Nurses Day, is celebrated annually on April 12 and was established to recognize the work that nurses do in the specialties of radiologic and imaging nursing. blue background with Radiology Nurses Day in yellow

The work of radiologic and imaging nurses is not only important for an accurate assessment and diagnosis, but it is also a skill set increasingly in demand. As radiology and imaging services such as MRI, CT scans, and ultrasounds are required for more careful diagnosis, the expertise of a radiology nurse becomes critical to accuracy. And as the technology for such imaging become ever more advanced, radiologic and imaging nurses need to remain up-to-date on using the equipment and assessing the resulting data.

The Association for Radiologic and Imaging Nursing (ARIN) leads the day honoring nurses in this specialty. Radiology nurses are an essential component of a holistic patient care team. Radiology nurses become skilled in preparing patients for and guiding them through radiology procedures. These tasks include explaining the procedure clearly, possibly administering an IV for medications or dyes, monitoring them and assisting them as they undergo a procedure. Some patients may need to ingest medications by mouth as well for monitoring digestion, for example.

Radiology nurses are able to keep patients informed of each step of a procedure and to let them know what is happening and why. For instance, an MRI’s loud banging noise and small space that can cause jitters. Because they can work with patients of all ages and with those who are coming for a routine screening or a serious illness, they need to be agile in navigating the details of medical conditions and the emotional stress patients might have.

As they use high-end, sensitive equipment, radiology nurses must develop highly specific skills to use the machines for the best results and in the safest manner for patients and team members. They have patient safety as a goal at all times, so must be aware of everything in their surroundings that could impact how an imaging procedure could go. For instance, the magnetic power of an MRI machine requires that no loose metal be nearby and that patients have removed all jewelry or metal. Radiology nurses will ensure that they ask patients all required questions to help ensure their safety. If they are working with a patient having a series of X-rays, they will need to position the patient properly while also ensuring they are protected from any unnecessary radiation. 

To stay current, radiologic and imaging nurses will want to consider certification in their specialty. With certification, they will have the latest evidence-based practices to provide the best care possible. They can also read the Journal of Radiology Nursing and attend conferences to connect with other radiologic and imaging nurses and professionals.

Radiologic and imaging nursing is an exciting specialty and one that only promises to increase in complexity. If you are a radiologic or imaging nurse, celebrate today to honor your important work.  

Travel Offers New Career Possibilities

Travel Offers New Career Possibilities

Did you know your next vacation might offer insight into your next career move? Travel opportunities give you a chance to see how other nurses might work in the field– in a location thousands of miles from your home or even in a different country.image of a plane flying around the globe for travel

If you have ever entertained “what if” thoughts about a new area, travel can give new perspectives to see what’s available. You might just want to find out more about the location and what it offers or you might be looking for a career switch. Maybe you’re thinking of an advanced degree and want to see what the campus is like or visit a faculty member.

Set aside a few hours on your next trip to learn more. Here are a few ways to start the process.

Start with the Research
Decide what your primary goal is and work from that. Maybe you’re a nurse up in New England wondering what it would be like to work in a warmer climate. A trip to south to sunny Anna Maria Island in Florida or west to San Diego, Calif. can give you a perspective on working with a seasonal community. Before you travel, start looking at a few job listings to get a sense of what’s available and where. Do you want to be in a nearby city like Sarasota or on the island with a smaller population? Is the San Diego area what you expected or do you want to look at the surrounding communities?  What are the housing options like? What else does the area offer?

Visit a Workplace
If you are looking for a job change and thinking a new location is in the cards, take the time to find out if it’s really as appealing as it seems.  As you look at job openings and organizations, build in time to visit an organization that’s particularly appealing. Maybe you want to visit a major hospital or a small healthcare facility. Get a sense of the populations served and the top community health needs.

Check Out a Campus
Thinking of a new degree? When you travel to a new area, plan to visit a campus and call ahead to see if you can chat with someone in the nursing school or with a faculty member. For that Anna Maria Island trip, you can visit the nearby University of South Florida College of Nursing in Tampa or the State College of Florida in Sarasota. In San Diego, the San Diego State University School of Nursing and the University of San Diego Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science are two options. Wherever you go, a campus visit gives a good feeling for the institution.

Make a Connection
Not really sure what your next steps will be but just want information? Find a nursing organization in the area and get in touch. The importance of a community can’t be overstated, so finding someone who can give you important details like how hot it really gets or what the population shift in the winter is really like is important. The Florida Nurses Association is like other state-based organizations and is an excellent resource for nurses. In San Diego, the San Diego National Association of Hispanic Nurses can offer resources and perspectives that are essential to hear about.

Soak Up the Environment
This is a vacation, after all, so you’ll spend most of your time just enjoying your time off. But pay attention to what your gut tells you. Maybe your vacation was a break to figure out what you need to do next.  With just an afternoon, you can take in a few important details that can help with your decision.

March 30 Is World Bipolar Day

March 30 Is World Bipolar Day

The stigma around mental illness is slowly ebbing, but it is by no means gone. Days like World Bipolar Day, held annually on March 30, offer excellent opportunities to spread awareness about this condition including symptoms, treatment, medications, and resources.    graphic logo with blue and purple colors fading and circular accents for World Bipolar Day

World Bipolar Day opens the door for people to share their stories and for others to learn how they can get help for themselves or for a loved one. According to the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF), this awareness day is a initiative shared by the IBPF and in collaboration with the Asian Network of Bipolar Disorder (ANBD) and the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD).

Bipolar disorder is easily confused with other mental illness as it can present with mood symptoms that are so similar. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) says, “bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.” But to find the right treatment, it helps to make an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible. Fortunately, tools like the IBPF’s Mood Disorder Questionnaire helps people identify the nuances between different conditions.

According to the ISBD, bipolar disorder is a brain disorder and isn’t rare. More than 60 million people worldwide (and 5.7 million American adults) are impacted by this condition. It is frequently diagnosed in late adolescence or early adulthood, and as more people become educated about bipolar disorders, the stigma around it lessens.

As the general public gains knowledge and understanding about bipolar, it helps dispel any misunderstandings about the disorder, what causes it, and what helps it. And as more people learn about bipolar and realize they are experiencing some symptoms, they will be able to get the help that will make a difference in their lives.

As bipolar disorders are talked about more freely, people who are affected by the condition are able to connect with others so they can build a community. If someone has bipolar symptoms and either doesn’t know others who have the same life experiences or is unaware of the extensive resources available, they can feel especially isolated. Isolation frequently worsens any kind of illness, so having a supportive community–whether online or in person–can make an enormous difference for someone living with bipolar disorder.

Nurses can use this day to help raise awareness about this disorder and to ensure that patients have access to information if they need it. Nurses can learn to recognize some of the signs and symptoms so they are able to identify it or flag the potential of it emerging.

People with bipolar disorder may think symptoms will go away and while the intensity of symptoms will fluctuate, they are generally something that will require lifelong treatment. Various options for treatment, including therapy, medication, and behavioral strategies, can help people manage symptoms and learn to recognize when they are worsening or improving. And finding the right treatment can prevent years of unnecessary suffering–a great reason to help spread awareness on World Bipolar Day.