5 Personal Nurse Practitioner Lessons from 2016

2016 has been an interesting year for me both personally and professionally. On the home front, I have encountered some unexpected challenges that forced my attention away from work towards myself and my family. At the same time, MidlevelU has also grown to 100,000 readers strong, launched a residency-like program for NPs, Midlevels for the Medically Underserved, and continued to expand its online offerings. I've got a great team to help out with these projects, but still the year has certainly seemed like a whirlwind! While unanticipated events caused the year to have its share of ups and downs, expectedly these challenges have led to personal and professional growth. 

Here's what I've learned as a nurse practitioner in 2016. 

 

1. Prioritize What's Important

I'm driven and focused. I'm a to-do list person. If I can check something off a list of tasks, I prioritize it above all else. Nothing feels worse to me than getting to the end of the day with unchecked list items lingering over my head. But, sometimes the best move is to scrap the task list and focus on what's really important in life - people. This year I've been learning to put my type A self aside and prioritize relationships over tasks. The status of this learning process is "in progress" for me, so I plan to place it squarely on my resolution list for 2017. 

2. Never Quit Learning

Earlier this year, I received an email from the former medical director of the emergency department where I work. He needed help covering a few shifts at his new hospital. So, I signed on to pick up a shift here and there. The transition to the new facility has been somewhat challenging. There's no hand-holding of NPs and PAs at the hospital, so I'm expected to see patients of higher acuity. Clinically, I was ready for this step. It's been fun and at times frustrating to conquer yet another learning curve in my practice. 

3. The Road to Accomplishment is Rocky

Hands down, my favorite part of 2016 has been launching the first Midlevels for the Medically Underserved class. I've been reliving my new grad days through these ambitious and hard-working NPs. If there's one thing I've been reminded of, it's just how step of a learning curve new grads face. The road to accomplishment, whether as a nurse practitioner or in personal endeavors, is rocky. The inaugural MMU class has been an inspiration to me personally, shown me just how far I've come in my own clinical career, and served as a daily reminder that hard work and facing challenges is the only way to achieve your goals. 

4. Get Goal Accountability

This year, I'm proud to say that I've found myself in the habit of setting goals - and accomplishing them. Part of the key to my success has been accountability. I meet monthly with a small group of professional women. Each month, check in regarding progress on our goals. As added motivation, we assign each of our own goals a dollar amount. If we fail to meet our personal goal by a specified deadline, we contribute the assigned dollar amount to a group cash pool. Sure, we end up using the money for fun outings or to spend on dinner. But, the threat of paying up is still a huge motivator. Setting monthly goals and finding individuals to help keep me accountable has been a huge asset to me this year. It keeps me grounded and committed to what I set out to do. 

5. Surround Yourself Support

When my sister recently moved to a new city, she naturally began the process of making friends. Inquiring about her progress, she would say things to me along the lines of "I liked her, but I don't know if we're into all the same things". My feedback to her was that I've noticed in my adult life I have different categories of friends. I have friends I like to run with at 5:30am. We know everything about each other since we pound out mile after mile on the pavement each week. Rarely, however, do we see each other socially. My husband and I have couple friends that we enjoy spending time with together. These individuals aren't necessarily the people I share my struggles or secrets with. This year, I've reached deeper to develop these unique friend circles. To this, I've also added some smaller professional circles, connecting with individuals who are further along in their careers than I. All of these groups serve as a support system. Having a few individuals I can lean on in each and every area of my life has been key to keeping me afloat through a few stressful months this year. I highly recommend it. 

What have you learned both personally and professionally as a nurse practitioner in 2016?

 

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