Friday, July 22, 2011

Checking out the "real" NP world

I have to admit, as a military FNP, I am a little sheltered from the “real world” of NPs. In our community, FNPs usually work in primary care and, occasionally, pediatrics. We don’t typically specialize in areas such as surgery or dermatology. There are programs in the military for our PA counterparts to branch into specialty practice—most common is surgery or orthopedics—but they are not available to us. Why this is, I cannot answer. I would think it has much to do with the current shortage of primary care providers, but if that is the case, why do PAs occasionally specialize?

Over the last few months, I have met more and more civilian FNPs and am frequently surprised by their ability to specialize. One works in general surgery at the Veterans Administration (VA) facility in town, and prefers to specialize in breast surgery. I was thrilled to hear this because, historically, the VA has been a “man’s world” where there were few services tailored to the female veteran. Another friend works in oncology, both inpatient and outpatient. She talks about how removed she feels from “regular” medicine, and my head spins thinking of all the complicated medication regimens she prescribes.

The one that surprised me the most? A friend who is a women’s health NP recently interviewed for a job in pain management. My first question was, “Can you really do that? Take care of men, too?” And, apparently, she can!

As my time to leave the military slowly approaches—I have just three years left!—it is a little overwhelming to think I will have to go looking for a “real job” and that there are more options than family medicine. I still don’t know that I would choose something else. I enjoy the variety of what I do. But, you never know what door might open when the time comes!

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

1 comment:

  1. As a Family Nurse Practitioner in a rural practice, I pretty much do everything from Derm to Hospice type care. I see children from 3 days old to adults that are in their 90's. Definitely never boring!