Q&A on Nursing with Amanda Avery, CPNP
Welcome to eLearner’s spotlight on nursing, where we discuss the rewards and challenges of this in-demand occupation with real workers in the field. Learn more about what it takes to become a nurse.
The first interview in our series is with Amanda Avery, who received her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from SUNY Brockport and her Masters in Science in Care of the Child and Family from the University of Rochester.
With more than 10 years of nursing experience under her belt, Amanda currently works as a certified pediatric nurse practitioner (CPNP) in Utica, New York. Her daily duties include performing physicals on children and assessing everything from colds to injuries or mental health concerns.
Amanda first became interested in a career as a CPNP at a young age when a chronic medical condition meant many visits to a specialist. It was her connection with this specialist that inspired her to eventually become a nurse.
elearners: What was the most challenging part of obtaining your nursing degree?
I think that the big thing for me was figuring out how to manage my time effectively. Whether you’re an undergrad or grad student, it can be difficult to balance coursework with the large amount of clinical time that you also have to put in as part of your nursing degree.
elearners: What part of your nursing education most prepared you for what you deal with on a day to day basis?
The clinical work I did by far prepared me the most for my career. I did rotations in rural offices, urban areas, specialists’ offices (adolescent medicine and pediatric oncology) and in a high school medical clinic. The on-the-job training really exposed me to the ins and outs of the different practices and treatments.
elearners: What are some of the biggest challenges that a nurse deals with?
It’s definitely difficult to tell people things that they don’t want to hear – whether it’s bad news about their prognosis or not being able to give them the treatment they expect (such as prescribing antibiotics for a cold). It can also be tough to not take your work home with you – most nurses I know struggle with this. Then there’s the paperwork. The saying is if it isn’t documented it wasn’t done. You have to be careful to make sure that all of your charts can stand up in the court of law, which can be very time consuming.
elearners: What is the most rewarding part of being a nurse?
For me, the most rewarding part is really getting to know my patients and having a chance to watch them grow and mature.
elearners: What are some of the most recent changes in nursing?
As hospitals and clinics receive less money and look to cut back wherever possible, it’s inevitable that more and more responsibility is being placed on nurses.
eLearners: As Amanda mentioned, nurses are increasingly becoming the go-to people in the realm of patient care. This can mean that in some cases nurses are taking over duties that were traditionally performed by physicians – the role of nurse midwives is a good example of this. At the same time, nurses are also becoming more specialized that ever, whether that be for the operating room, in geriatrics, in pediatrics, for recovery room care or even in psychiatrics. As such, the role of education and training, continuing education and relevant clinical experience is more important than ever.
Nurses are also increasingly taking on a patient advocate role, which can mean measuring a patient’s ability to make informed decisions and consent for care. With the passing of the Affordable Care Act, hospitals are now being held more accountable for ensuring that patient aftercare and recovery is a priority. As such, in some cases nurses may take more responsibility for ensuring that prescriptions are filled, that follow-up appointments are kept, and that care does not end as soon as the patient leaves the hospital.
elearners: Technology in the fields of science and medicine is ever-changing. How do you stay current?
As part of my certification, I'm required to submit 15 hours of continuing medical education each year. In order to stay on top of the latest technologies I can attend conferences, read (and get tested on) appropriate literature and write research articles.
eLearners: You may not be aware that nurses themselves have historically been industry innovators when it comes to developing new technologies. For example, in the early 1950s, nurse and physical therapist Bessie Blount invented an electronic devise that helped allow amputees to eat without aid. In the 1960s, an ER nurse named Anita Dorr saw a need to decrease the length of time it took to gather medical supplies and helped create a prototype for a wheeled crisis cart that evolved in the present-day crash cart.
In order to help reduce patient anxiety and prevent the need for re-insertions, Betty Rozier and Lisa Vallino (a mother and daughter team) designed and patented an I.V. house site protector in 1993, which is now used worldwide. Of similar note, two sisters (and RNs) Terri Barton-Salinas, and Gail Barton-Hay assisted with the product development of ColorSafe IV lines to provide a clear color-coded system for IV bags to help prevent human error.
These are just some of the many examples of the way nurses consistently working to help improve treatments and – ultimately – the quality of medical care.
elearners: As a nurse, are there any certifications or licensing you must keep current? What is the best/most convenient way you have found to keep them current?
I earned my RN license from the state of New York and my CPNP certification from the PNCB organization. Nursing licenses are good for two to three years and my CPNP certification is good for one year. Both of these agencies are very good about letting you know a few months in advance when it’s time to renew your certification and they will keep reminding you until you do.
elearners: For individuals hoping to have a career in nursing what are some important things to consider?
Nursing can be challenging – physically, emotionally and intellectually – but it can also be a very rewarding career. I think having a strong constitution is always a plus, though not necessarily a requirement.
elearners: For anyone wishing to make to make a career change, are there any professions that you think might transition more easily than others into nursing?
I think that people who’ve already had careers where they help others, such as teachers or social workers, would like have an easier transition into nursing. Having strong interpersonal skills definitely helps.
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