Editor’s note: To conclude our NP Week celebration, we are posting articles that show the daily life for three nurse practitioners who work in different settings. We think you will enjoy this look into the different roles NPs play in our nation’s healthcare industry.
As an NP, speaker, and consultant, I’m always getting ready for or recovering from a trip. Packing and unpacking is my modus operandi. When I’m home I enjoy an active clinical practice. I work in a large, busy OB/GYN practice and specialize in helping women with chronic recurrent vulvovaginitis.
On this day, I recently returned from a week of travel to Florida where I spoke at the Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health (NPWH) National Women’s Healthcare Conference in Orlando and walked the beaches with a retired NP friend.
5 a.m.: Awake. Not my cup of tea. I do not like getting up early. I take a quick shower, delete junk email, grab lunch I made the night before, warm up some oatmeal, remove an ice pack for my lower back, and rush out the door.
6 a.m.: I’m on the road. If I leave on time, my commute is about an hour. If I am just a few minutes late, the traffic can be ferocious, making my drive much longer.
7 a.m.: I arrive at the hospital where my practice is located. I park in a back lot and walk into the emergency room. I greet my security guard friends and head to my building via a series of corridors that connect the various buildings.
7:15 a.m.: I open our satellite office. I turn on the computers, restock my exam rooms, uncover my microscope, and set out the related supplies (slides, solutions, requisitions, transport bags, etc.). I tie my hair back and don my lab coat, which I have stocked with mints, my silenced iPhone, business cards, lip balm, and a pen.
7:30 a.m.: My first patient arrives before my office receptionist. Patients are scheduled every 30 minutes. I negotiated for longer appointment visits (30 minutes instead of 10 or 15), but there is a catch. In exchange for this generous time frame, I do not receive a medical or nursing assistant. This can be a challenge because I fill out my own lab forms, prepare the exam room, and clean up after my patient leaves.
7:30 a.m.: My patient is here for a follow-up regarding her recurrent yeast infections, which are now well managed with compounded nystatin suppositories. She is happily pregnant but worries the yeast infections will flare during pregnancy.
8 a.m.: My patient is late. I review her electronic medical record, and formulate additional questions and considerations in case she arrives and her recurrent vulvovaginitis is persisting. I’m disappointed she is a no-show. I call her, but she does not answer. I leave a message about her missing the appointment and inquire how she is feeling.
8:15 a.m.: I check my labs, call patients, document the calls, and wait for my next patient to arrive. I’m glad now that my 8:00 patient is a no-show so I can work on lab follow-up. Usually I stay late to deal with this.
8:30 a.m.: My patient tells me her daughter was sexually assaulted a week ago. She called me four days after it happened, while I was speaking out of state at a conference. I referred her to the sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE) program in Massachusetts. I offer to see her daughter for a follow-up visit in a few weeks. I provide counseling to my patient and suggest a counselor ASAP to her daughter.
9 a.m.–12 p.m.: I continue to see patients. This is a short clinical day for me, but I’m glad because our 24-year-old daughter is visiting from California this week. While she is here, she is helping us move from Upton, MA, to Onset, the “Gateway to the Cape.” Our new home is five houses from the ocean and across the street from a golf course. We are very fortunate to be making this move, but the chaos of moving is really challenging. The whole moving process is stressful: packing boxes, sorting, cleaning, painting, staging the house for showings, changing mailing address, and notifying every one of our address change. This stress is on top of my usual monthly/bimonthly speaking-related travel.
11:30 a.m.: I wrap up my clinical day with more lab follow-up before heading out the door. I plan to run some errands on my way home to reconnect with our daughter. She is preparing for a trip to Malaysia where she and her all-female team will compete in a paintball tournament. Paintball is a very popular sport there; even the queen loves it.
1 p.m.: On my way home, I stop at our veterinarian’s office to purchase more low-iodine food for our ailing 10-year-old cat named Kitty. This adds new meaning to being part of the sandwich generation. I also pick up some roast beef from my mom for dinner tonight. Bless her heart.
3 p.m.: I take a short nap and a walk before it gets dark. Gosh, the short days are hard to take, especially if you are an outdoor addict like me. I prefer cycling, but as the days cool, it gets less appealing.
I check my professional Facebook page and respond to comments and messages. I make plans to send out an announcement about my TV guest appearance on the Balancing Act, a lifetime cable program in Boca Raton, FL, scheduled for October 29.
6 p.m.: It’s nearly dark, and I find this depressing. We enjoy our yummy homemade meal. I added our home-grown potatoes and carrots to mom’s roast beef, and the meal was delicious. The family and I watch the evening news as we eat.
7:15 p.m.: My husband experiences a 4.3 earthquake while working on the home computer. I was downstairs watching TV and reading email. I didn’t feel a thing!
8 p.m.: I watch The Voice, a newly discovered show, while I continue to chip away at my email — more than 600 messages on average. This is with an assistant helping me deal with my emails/correspondence and speaking logistics.
9 p.m.: I watch the second presidential debate between President Obama and Governor Romney while continuing to read emails, address speaking requests, consult with colleagues, and read online journals and newsletters.
About the Author
Mimi Secor is a board-certified family nurse practitioner specializing in women’s health for 33 years and is a popular national speaker and consultant, educating advanced practice clinicians and consumers around the country and the world. Mimi is on staff at Newton Wellesley ObGyn, a private practice in Newton, MA, where her career-long specialty is managing patients with vulvovaginal problems. A national radio host of “Partners in Practice” on ReachMD, Mimi interviews nurse practitioners about how they are helping to meet healthcare needs in the U.S. and the world. She also manages a blog at mimisecor.wordpress.com.