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5 things I’ve noticed in my first month as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

iStockphoto | ThinkStock + Scrubs

iStockphoto | ThinkStock + Scrubs

This month makes it three years.

Three years ago, I started my post-baccalaureate journey to become an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP). It seems like a lifetime ago that I graduated from my RN-BSN program and three months later started my master’s program.

So much has happened. I have a hard time putting into words the transition my life has made, both personally and professionally. You think you’re ready for it, but you’re not. You think you have some sense of what to expect, but you don’t. And after my first official month as a practicing ACNP, I have so much more to learn.

Just as nursing school gives you the basic tools to practice safely as a nurse, NP school follows a similar path. Being an NP student is worlds away from being an NP. There is just so much to learn in such a short period of time. You are given the education and training to be a competent practitioner, but that’s just to get you started. Then the REAL learning begins.

That line in the sand that separates the world of nursing from the world of medicine gets blurred as a Nurse Practitioner. We float across that line. We don’t break any regulatory laws or state practice acts, but we have to grasp the concept of performing and practicing in both worlds. It’s this transition that I think is the toughest.

This first month has been amazing, exciting, exhilarating, stressful and maybe even a tad bit scary. For the current NP students on their last leg of the journey, here are five things I’d like to comment on after my first month:

Credentialing

It’s no joke. It’s a long, tedious and extremely important process that you should not take lightly. Treat it as priority number one when you are pursuing that first job. Know your rights and responsibilities before you treat your first patient.

Work Flow

I come from the bedside nursing world of the ICU. I treated 2-3 patients, depending on acuity. So when I’m charged with treating half a dozen of patients (regardless of acuity) or more, it can be a bit overwhelming. Thankfully, I work with some amazing physician partners who have been great mentors.

Who am I?

Every so often, I would have to pinch myself. The first handful of times I signed my name with my credentials I giggled and had an ear-to-ear smile. I’m beaming with pride at becoming a Nurse Practitioner.

To correct or not correct

I lost count of how many times I had to clarify my title with patients and family members…it became a bit comical after a while. I’ll be honest; there were times when I let the “doctor” thing slide just out of convenience. Clarifying my title wasn’t going to change my team’s plan of care or treatment plan.

Confidence

Years of experience as a bedside nurse in a multitude of different areas afforded me a certain level of confidence. Yeah, it’s gone. I have to continually remind myself that I’ve earned my place. Making care decisions can be stressful since I’m now the person who has to have the answers. It gets better each day.

I know it’s only been a month, but this journey has definitely been worth it. I would highly recommend that any nurse out there debating on taking the leap go ahead and jump in head-first. You won’t regret it.

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