Newfoundland and Labrador
Why did you decide to become a nurse practitioner?
I loved the autonomy that came with being a community health nurse. Practising independently in these settings encouraged continuous critical thinking and enhanced my assessment skills. This autonomy is also what gave me the desire to continue my nursing education and to become an NP so I could use my advanced education to help others. Both of my older sisters were nurses who I looked up to, and my uncle was a general practitioner (GP). I always respected their work and admired them growing up.
How do you feel you help patients the most?
I feel that my patients come back to me because I listen. I allow them time to tell me “their story” in their own words, free from interruption and free from judgment. They respect that it’s a safe space and that they are not rushed or pressured when they see me. I feel I empower them to take responsibility for their own health by helping them to set their own health goals instead of telling them what to do and how to do it. If I cannot help them I make sure to link them with other community resources so they do not feel like they left without any direction. They value that I am accessible where people congregate on a daily basis (at clinics in three community centres), and they see me as a part of their community.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job, and what is the most challenging?
The most rewarding aspect of the job is seeing patients go from not participating or paying attention to their health to becoming strong advocates and leaders for their health. As they become empowered I see them make small changes which, over time, result in a lifestyle change that leads to better overall health. Most recently I had a patient come to see me for a mental health issue. She was struggling with many different determinants of health at home and health care was the last thing on her mind. When I saw her initially she cared very little about her physical health because of all of these other struggles. I followed her for a year and the process of improving her physical health was slow. We started with talking about her mental health, and I connected her with appropriate resources, made linkages to get her engaged in the community centre and kept in touch often. Slowly, a strong trusting relationship was established, and this patient came back to discuss a variety of other health issues such as her high cholesterol and high blood pressure. She started to care about her health and made significant changes in her lifestyle. She now comes monthly to see me for regular health monitoring and screening.
The most challenging aspect of my job is feeling isolated. Even though I work in an urban setting I sometimes feel disconnected from the health-care team. I work closely with public health nurses in the centres and have collaborating physicians who are off site.
More about Glenda
One of the things on my wish list it to be a part of a true primary health care team in one building so that patients could have access to a GP, NP, social worker, public health nurse, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, mental health counsellor, etc., in one place. This way, each provider could be utilized to a full scope of practice and would be there to provide support to one another.