Happy NP Week!!!
WOOOOOOOT! CUE THE CONFETTI! AND THE FIREWORKS! AND THE T-SHIRT CANNON! AND…and… (ahem).
I know, I know. There’s a “week” for everything. But since I’ve been a good sport all year long, as essentially every other possible profession in the world gets their celebratory day and/or week, AND since I love having a reason to celebrate anything and everyone, I’m not planning on letting this week pass quietly by.
I’m pretty sure NP Week really just exists as an excuse for a bunch of NP-awareness marketing and outreach. And for the record, I have absolutely no problem with this. Even if it almost seems as though it should be unnecessary in this day and age, since as the AANP rightly points out, there are 171,000 of us in practice, and we’re increasingly stepping in to provide a lot of the care that needs to be provided out there in the big wide scary world that is the U.S. health care system. But despite our numbers and seeming ubiquitousness, the fact is that a lot of confusion remains about who we are and what we do. Oh right, and then there’s this. Also a problem.
And that’s why the AANP created this handy NP Week “Resource Guide”. If you want to learn more about how fantastic and fabulous the NP profession is in general (answer: pretty fantastic, quite fabulous), check them out. Or go here. Or here. Or here.
But since I’m just me, and not part of some larger organization with some larger goal with respect to NPs’ collective position in the universe, I thought I’d celebrate NP Week in my own way: by reminiscing about how exactly I ended up where I am today. And by eating free breakfast pastries, of course. You can never have too many free breakfast pastries.
When I was growing up, I had this idea that I wanted to be a doctor. And since I was one of those kids that did well in school and aced standardized tests, everyone around me assumed I’d become a doctor too. Now, I didn’t want to become a surgeon, or a radiologist, or a cardiologist. I just wanted to become the type of person I saw when I was a kid: the one you’d go see in a tidy little office for sick visits, and well visits, and ask for advice about both the little things and the big things. Who knew to ask about how your grandma was doing, and whether you’d had the chance to go skiing yet this season, and how the college application process was going.
But a funny thing happened after I shipped myself off to college and joined the bleary-eyed ranks of the pre-meds. I started volunteering at my college’s student health center, and realized all the people who were doing the things I’d pictured myself doing (see above) were actually NPs. And then, since I chose “go-getting feminist” as my undergrad activist identity of choice , I started volunteering at the local Planned Parenthood clinic. The providers there? More NPs. I started to realize that all of the people in my life who were actually DOING the things I’d wanted to do all this time weren’t physicians at all, but NPs.
So I changed course. I figured out how one actually becomes an NP, and then proceeded to do each of the things one needs to do, in the order one does them. (I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice to say that the intervening years involved many bed baths, a significant quantity of sputum, blood and poop, and a lot of humility.) But fast forward a few years, and there I was: a brand-spanking-new NP.
And you know what? I was right. I DO get to do all the things I’d envisioned myself doing as a kid. As an NP.
Obviously, the world still needs physicians. And for a whole lot of people, medical school is absolutely the right path for them.
But for me, I know that I’m exactly where I belong, doing exactly what I’m meant to be doing. And so this week, I plan on eating those complimentary pastries – I’m thinking maybe a scone, followed by a danish, but WHO KNOWS – with pride. And then I’ll slip on my white coat, the one with my name and the words “Nurse Practitioner” stitched next to the left lapel, and walk into my tidy little exam room to see my next patient.