THUNDER BAY – HEALTH – A Nurse Practitioner (NP) is a nurse with an advanced university education who works both independently and in collaboration with other health professionals to provide patients and families with quality health care services. Ontario has more than 2,000 Nurse Practitioners who work in a diverse range of community and hospital settings across the province.
We asked a few members of the NP team at our Hospital to share thoughts about their role and experience. This week, we’re featuring Kristen Kovac.
Why did you decide to become a Nurse Practitioner?
I was ready for a new challenge and to expand my knowledge and skills in the nursing profession. I wanted to advance my education and provide health care services here in Thunder Bay in a more autonomous role.
Tell us about your role with the Nurse-Led Outreach Program?
I am one of the six nurse practitioners on the Nurse-Led Outreach Team at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. We provide outreach services to all of the Long Term Care homes, assisted living homes and retirement homes in the city. Our overall goal is to help prevent emergency room visits, decrease the length of hospital admissions and improve the continuity of care upon discharge from our Hospital for the patients living in these facilities. We are all assigned to different homes and we visit these homes on a regular basis throughout the week seeing patients within their home environment. We provide assessment, diagnosis and appropriate treatment for multiple health conditions and concerns that arise. Nursing staff in the different homes are able to call us to assess patients they may be thinking of sending to the emergency department. We work in collaboration with the healthcare teams at each home to try and provide treatment and appropriate follow-up in the comfort of the patients’ own home environment.
What is the most challenging part of your profession?
Things are always changing. There are always new treatments, medications, and guidelines that are released and there is always something to learn. I have been a nurse practitioner for 5 years now and continue to learn and see new things on a regular basis. It can be a challenge at times to keep up to date but it is also very rewarding to continually learn and advance in my career.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your profession?
I really enjoy working in this autonomous role and being able to provide assessment, diagnosis, and treatment outside of the hospital so that patients may remain comfortable in their own home environment. I enjoy forming relationships with patients and families and being included as part of the healthcare team in each home that I visit.
Advice for those considering a career as a Nurse Practitioner?
The nurse practitioner program is not easy but if you are ready for the challenge the end outcome is worth it.