Dear Aspiring NP:
As you prepare to graduate, pass your boards and eventually get a job, you may find yourself in need for practical advice to help you thrive in your first NP job. If this is you, then you’ve come to the right place. I’ve come up with 4 pitfalls that I have seen myself or others fall into.These may sound like no brainers and common sense but sometimes it’s better to have identified them and be prepared than get into unhealthy routines that you’ll end up regretting later. Be sure to avoid these 4 common mistakes new NPs make and successfully survive your first year with your sanity intact.
The first thing to understand once you graduate from NP school is that things move much slower than you’d expect. At this point you’ll likely feel a mixture of burnout and excitement for what happens next, however, keep in mind that you’ll be facing several months of, well I don’t know how else to put it, waiting time.
Typically before you start seeing patients you’ll have to: get your diploma, get board certified, get your state license, your DEA, find yourself a job, get credentialed, get oriented and finally start seeing patients independently.
So, it’s no wonder that by the time you get a job you will be eager to get started and are ready to jump in head first. You may want to do as much as possible and prove your worth in your new place of work. Which is why certain things may not come natural to you, one of which is delegation.
- Avoid doing it all the tasks yourself, Learn to Delegate:
As a New Nurse Practitioner you have a team backing you up, whereas you only had a CNA to help you out in your hospital unit or worked independently as an RN, this is no longer the model that you’ll follow in most primary settings. In this new role you’ll have medical assistants, nurses, and even front desk staff whose sole purpose is to run portions of the clinical and clerical works so you can see patients like a well oiled machine. Which is why it’s important that in your first job and for the rest of your NP career you don’t try to do it all by yourself. Let your medical assistants take urine tests, prep patients, swab throats, and set up before pelvic exams etc. Learn the job description of your colleages and let them do what they are best at.
- Do not isolate yourself.
During the course of your work day you may see other providers from time to time rushing from one room to the next, sometimes you may miss them altogether. Which is why you have to be extra intentional not to isolate yourself. Make a point to network with everyone in the office and at least once a day say their name or acknowledge their presence. This will make those moments where you’ll need a favor or second opinion from your co-workers all the less awkward. And who knows?, you may even get a mentor out of some of them.
- Don’t be afraid to ease slowly into new roles
At some point during your first few months as a NP you’ll think you’ve mastered the ropes and may want to incorporate more patients into your day. Here is the thing about being a nurse practitioner, you are in a leadership position, and what you do sets a precedent. So in the spirit of taking full advantage of your training wheels err… first year working, consider easing into new roles slowly by adding a few patients at the time, that way you have a chance to evaluating how you are doing every step of the way. Building your case load slowly not only buys you more time to adjust to seeing more patients in an hour but it makes you more likely to be successful in the long run.
- Don’t leave your door open during lunch break
Protecting your lunch hour (or 30 minutes) was something I learned from one of my preceptors, who would leave the building and relax in her car or at a nearby store. There is a lot to be said about the mental clarity that you’ll experience when you have a chance to step away for a little bit. It is so tempting to “catch up in charting” or labs during your lunch time, that most people tend to neglect themselves. Even if it’s only for 5-10 minutes, allow yourself to disconnect completely, and you’ll be sure to return recharged.
It is my sincere goal that this four pitfalls to avoid can help in guiding you during your first year working as a Nurse Practitioner.
P.S. In the meantime, you can download the free “Primary Care Office Roles Description” guide to get a better understanding of everyone’s role inside the primary care office!! Or check out this quick video where I talk about these 4 pitfalls!
Liliet Gomez is a Family Nurse Practitioner practicing in NYC. She enjoys supporting Aspiring Nurse Practitioner in their NP journey through blog posts, videos and downloadable resources at www.aspiring-np.com