Nurses are the unsung heroes of the healthcare sector, risking their own well-being to save precious lives and heal their patients. The COVID-19 pandemic propelled nurses to take center stage and fight the deadly virus as frontline fighters. The last two years have brought numerous changes in nursing roles, demanding skilled professionals to step up and take charge.
Interestingly, the pandemic isn’t the only catalyst of role transitions in nurse practitioner responsibilities. The acute shortage of skilled healthcare practitioners has intensified the pressure on experienced nurses to address rising patient demands. The rising population of retiring physicians and scarcity of new entrants has pushed family nurse practitioners to the helm of primary care. FNPs perform many primary care duties previously restricted to skilled physicians and specialists.
These primary care practitioners work closely with patients, caregivers, and community members to promote healthier lifestyles and reduce the burden of diseases. FNPs encounter many challenges in their career progression, including balancing their academic and professional responsibilities and hectic shift schedules.
Keep reading to explore the everyday challenges of FNPs and how they overcome them.
Balancing Academic & Professional Obligations
The journey toward an MSN specialization is not easy, and the pressure intensifies when you’re balancing academic and professional obligations. Practitioners make numerous sacrifices to advance their careers and add an FNP specialization to their resumes. Balancing a full-time degree with a hectic 12-hour creates an exhausting lifestyle, denying nurses time for social interactions and recreation.
BSN professionals don’t have the luxury of quitting their jobs to return to a brick-and-mortar classroom for a full-time program. E-learning platforms offer immense flexibility for nursing professionals looking to advance their careers with higher education. Practitioners can balance an online MSN FNP program with their shift schedules without overwhelming themselves with extensive burdens.
Prestigious and highly accredited nursing institutions increasingly collaborate with e-learning platforms to encourage practitioners with superior accessibility.
The healthcare sector is overwhelmed with staffing shortages, and there’s a dire need for highly qualified and skilled nurse practitioners. FNP aspirants can take the remote learning route to specialize in primary care services and transform their career trajectories.
However, even online FNP programs have extensive coursework, challenging clinical modules, collaborative projects, and research submissions.
The struggle to balance and fulfill professional and academic obligations can take a toll on a nurse’s health and well-being. Professionals find themselves caught between exhausting shift schedules and demanding academic assignments. It takes savvy time management, organization and self-discipline to fulfill both obligations without overwhelming yourself with unrealistic goals.
Exhausting and Inflexible Work Routines
Not all family nurse practitioners (FNPs) have flexible shift schedules or work in private practices and clinics. Most recent graduates secure high-paying employment opportunities in hospitals and healthcare facilities with demanding workloads and inflexible routines.
FNPs deliver primary care services during day shifts and are required to avert life-and-death emergencies in the ER.
ER shifts are the most challenging aspect of an FNP’s daily workload. Practitioners are exposed to overwhelming bouts of occupational stress and compelled to neglect their well-being to ensure preparedness for emergency response.
The chaos of administering speedy and effective care to stabilize patients with various medical concerns can prove physically and mentally draining.
FNPs are required to work day shifts, alongside serving mandatory overtime during the evenings and nights. When hospitals expect a surge in inpatient demands, FNPs are needed to work during weekends and even the holiday season. It’s not easy to stay glued at work when your family and friends are searing Turkeys and hanging up Christmas lights.
Nurse practitioners make numerous sacrifices to advance their careers, and leadership roles come at the cost of their personal and social lives.
Educating & Empowering Patients
Many patients stand in the way of their own recovery by refusing to adhere to the practitioner’s advice and treatment plan.
FNPs work closely with patients of all ages diagnosed with various illnesses and health concerns. Most patients need assistance in understanding their conditions, managing symptoms, overcoming life implications, and embracing healthier lifestyles.
FNPs face numerous challenges while educating their patients and empowering them toward self-care. Practitioners encounter numerous roadblocks and barriers in the struggle to shift patient attitudes about preventive care and treatment adherence. For instance, the lack of health literacy and educational opportunities and difficulties in affording medications make patients unlikely to comply.
FNPs face cultural barriers that discourage their patients from using pharmaceutical drugs and complying with treatment plans in some situations. FNPs exercise cultural sensitivity to help such patients adopt positive perspectives regarding pharmaceutical innovations and medication adherence.
Primary care practitioners ensure patients’ compliance with medication and treatments to avert health deterioration.
Patients from rural communities and disadvantaged backgrounds fail to comprehend the risks of disease progression and complications of not adhering to treatment plans.
Working with patients who don’t prioritize their health isn’t easy, and it demands nurses go above and beyond to educate their patients. Luckily, FNPs undergo extensive training in patient education and are well-equipped with PCP educational and awareness tools.
Working with Interdisciplinary Teams & Supervisors
FNPs serving in the ER and hospital departments have to work as part of interdisciplinary teams, often under the supervision of skilled physicians. Older medical practitioners tend to have an unwelcoming attitude towards emerging nurse practitioner roles and clinical specializations. It’s natural for conventional and disgruntled supervisors to undermine the authority and expertise of a nurse practitioner.
Such team dynamics create a toxic work environment, harming the self-esteem and confidence levels of the practitioner. FNPs cannot confront their supervisors and senior practitioners for undermining their professional aptitude and clinical skills. After all, nurses rely on supervisors to clear their mandatory training hours with flying colors. It takes strong interpersonal skills and a passion for your profession to thrive in such toxic work environments without succumbing to the pressure.
Family nurse practitioners must maintain healthy and collaborative relationships with other practitioners to provide quality patient care. In many situations, this endeavor demands stifling one’s self-esteem and biting one’s lip in response to demeaning comments.
The advantages of carving a lucrative and rewarding career as a family nurse practitioner far outweigh the challenges. Professionals interested in working closely with individuals and helping families enjoy well-being will find this career path intensely rewarding.
FNPs can build a flexible 9-5 routine and gain experience to start a private practice with time.
There’s a burgeoning demand for skilled and experienced FNPs with high-paying opportunities across the healthcare sector. FNPs are strongly advised to explore leadership roles with skill-building and additional certifications to cement their clinical authority.