The NP Career Brings Great Opportunity, But What Are the Challenges?

Although I do love the NP life, it comes with occasional pitfalls.  I have written extensively about the amazing opportunities the nurse practitioner career has brought to my life.  I earn an excellent income, have a flexible schedule and a career where I am constantly learning and challenged.  Like any job however, the nurse practitioner career presents occasional difficulties.  Check out my guest blog post for HEALTHeCAREERS discussing the challenges of the nurse practitioner career.

What challenges might you face in a career as a NP?

Working with Multiple Supervising Physicians

Working in the ER, I am assigned a supervising physician for each shift I work.  When a chart needs to be signed or I have a question about a patient, this is the physician I ask.  My ER employs nine physicians, each with varying styles of practice and attitudes toward medicine.  It can be very difficult to accommodate each physician’s preferences.  For example, some physicians prefer oral steroids be given patients presenting with asthma exacerbations while others prefer steroid injections.  Although these are not major differences in practice, it can be difficult to tailor my patient care based on the preferences of multiple supervising physicians.

 

On the positive side, this challenge allows me to observe multiple styles and methods of practice.  I feel that I am a better nurse practitioner as a result of observing and learning from multiple physicians.

 

Unconventional Work Schedule

 

My schedule is very flexible- I am allowed to request up to ten days off each month.  I am thrilled with this luxury and don’t think I could find it in any other career.  However, there is a downside to this flexibility.  In addition to day shifts, working in the ER I must also work my share of nights, evenings, weekends and holidays.  It is difficult to work on Thanksgiving when the rest of your family is together eating turkey or on the 4th of July when your friends are hosting a BBQ.  My flexible schedule certainly comes with some sacrifice. 

 

On the Job Learning

 

As a nurse practitioner, I am expected to know nearly as much as a physician but with much less schooling.  This forces me to ask a lot of questions of the physicians with whom I work and to continually learn throughout my career.  Although I am becoming much more proficient in the work that I do, I am constantly learning.  I believe this is both a positive and negative aspect of the nurse practitioner career.  On one hand, it ensures that my work day is never dull.  The challenge of learning makes my job intellectually stimulating and fulfilling.  On the other hand, it can be frustrating and time consuming to look up information and ask questions of my supervisors on a daily basis. 

 

Conflicts of Interest

 

Medicine is a profession aimed at helping others, but it is also a business.  In any medical practice, this creates a conflict of interest.  While I want to do the best thing for my patients, red tape and pressure to create profit created by hospital administration can get in the way.  For example, the other day I was treating a patient who absolutely needed to be admitted to the hospital for respiratory problems.  He was uninsured and understandably concerned about the price of a hospital stay.  Due to rules and regulations, we were unable to transfer him to the city hospital which would have saved him a significant amount of money.  Situations like this are frustrating.  Laws and hospital regulations occasionally prevent the best possible patient care which is a challenge in medical practice. 

 

Overall, the nurse practitioner career is very rewarding.  Like all jobs, it does present challenges.  I believe, however that the positives of working as a nurse practitioner far outweigh the negatives and would recommend it to anyone interested in working in healthcare.

 

Looking for a job as an NP?  Be sure to contact the recruiters as HEALTHeCAREERS to see if they have any available opportunities in your area!