Why This Millennial Became A Nurse Practitioner
By Charlene Platon, MS, RN, FNP-BC
“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
This question was the most common that I was asked during interviews for RN positions.
Now, five years after graduation from nursing school, I haven’t become the person that I confidently described to my interviewers. Instead, I traveled a nursing path that led me to advanced practice registered nursing.
Specifically, I became a family nurse practitioner (FNP).
A family nurse practitioner is trained to diagnose, assess, and create a treatment plan for patients, usually in the outpatient setting. But their duties don’t stop there. FNPs order and interpret diagnostic tests for their patients, making their role similar to that of a physician.
FNPs can even start their own practices, and many have developed their own programs to benefit the health and well-being of their patients, especially those in underserved communities.
But if you’re new to the world of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), you’ll quickly learn that there are various types of APRNs. In addition to nurse practitioners, there are clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), and certified nurse midwives (CNMs).
So why did I choose the FNP role?
To be honest, I first learned about APRNs from my mother. She encouraged me to become a CRNA, and that was my unofficial introduction to advanced practice. The problem was, I didn't have any interest in anesthesia. I wanted to do something else, but I wasn’t quite sure what my niche would be.
After working as a registered nurse for several years and seeing the same patients constantly in and out of the hospital, I knew that I needed to learn more about the healthcare system as a whole.
It pained me to see so many avoidable readmissions. I wanted to understand the bigger picture of how care was provided outside of the hospital. So the only way I could practice in the outpatient setting and build a rapport with the same patients and understand their challenges was to become a family nurse practitioner.
And I’m so glad that I did.
As a nurse practitioner, I’ve learned so much. FNP programs are designed to train clinicians on how to provide care for a variety of patients, from children to the elderly. I was exposed to several specialties and clinical areas as part of my education. In fact, it’s been fascinating to view the healthcare world from such a diverse outpatient lens.
From my RN experience and during my graduate studies, I was inspired to explore process and quality improvement. I found my niche trying to see where problems lay in the healthcare system, and how to improve those processes for the welfare of both clinicians and patients.
But what does this have to do with FNPs?
The FNP world is incredibly diverse and constantly expanding. The opportunities are endless.
As an FNP, I work in process and performance improvement, and have found a perfect mix of addressing and resolving both inpatient and outpatient challenges. Even though similar opportunities exist for RNs, I can understand healthcare issues with an enhanced knowledge of the system from both a clinical and structural perspective.
Being an FNP has given me a unique opportunity to collaborate with medical residents, fellows, and physicians in a way that was previously unavailable to me as an RN.
I didn’t know what opportunities lay in my path when I graduated from nursing school five years ago. But if your heart is telling you to pursue advanced practice registered nursing, then listen to your heart. Your future self will thank you for it.
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Charlene Platon, MS, RN, FNP-BC is a family nurse practitioner, emerging nurse leader, blogger, and aspiring podcaster. Her coworkers dub her the "techie nurse." In her spare time, she likes to take care of air plants and spend too much time on social media. Reach her on Twitter @CharlenePlaton.