September 28, 2023
It’s National Advanced Practice Provider Week — created to increase awareness and promote the importance of our team-based care model. We’re thrilled to introduce you to some of our APPs who make it all possible.
What drew you to your career as an APP?
Keli Ann: After achieving my master’s in nursing, nursing education, and administration, I was drawn to APP roles to work in the ER as a nurse. I realized I did not want to continue in an admin role but rather work directly with patients at a higher level and take care of them. While deciding to pursue a medical or family nurse practitioner (FNP) degree, I observed FNPs around me in the hospital and thought, “I want to be like them.” I took a leap of faith and went for the FNP. It would allow me to further my clinical practice and care for patients in an advanced provider role. I love practicing at a higher level.
Jeffrey: I was drawn to be a nurse practitioner because I can direct treatment choices and optimize care for the individual patient while promoting a high-quality healthcare team. In previous roles, the focus of work rarely included both important concepts. Now, I can help each patient in collaboration with a team of nurses, techs, and doctors by focusing more on the individual and promoting an overall better state of health.
Alison: Prior to becoming an APP, I was a full-time firefighter and paramedic. I obtained my registered nursing qualification to work part-time on my days off from the fire department. I always envisioned retiring from the fire department, but while working in the ICU and emergency department, I was fascinated by APPs and their unique skill set. I eventually made the difficult decision to leave a career I loved for the potential for something I was even more passionate about. I left the fire department and went back to school. To this day, it is the best career decision I have ever made.
How does Sound Physicians support you as an APP?
Hunter: Sound has the most progressive program out there for APPs. We are treated as colleagues and collaborators to our physician counterparts. Sound also integrates APPs into its leadership structure, ensuring representation and room for advancement. My direct leaders are APPs and are always available to solve problems, give suggestions, or just listen and offer affirmation. Sound also ensures abundant education and training opportunities while enacting policies that nourish a supportive team environment. Sound has created the conditions necessary for me to flourish into the best provider I can be.
Jessi: Sound is extremely clear about their support for APPs and how we contribute value to the care team. They have provided me with mentorship and guidance that lets me feel comfortable and confident enough to continue to advance my practice and clinical skills. I never feel as if I’m alone on an island, and I feel respected. The group I work with is fantastic and feels very much like a family with similar goals, and we are all there for each other. They make me strive to be my best as a clinician and a teammate.
Johanna: Teamwork is Sound Physicians’ greatest support for APPs. My unique role is in pre-admission testing and same-day surgery. Our unit rotates weekly, and if assistance is needed with schedule conflicts, seeing patients, or complex cases, I feel that I can reach out to any of my colleagues, the APP onsite lead, and our medical director with immediate support. On a regional and national level, teamwork is still evident. Sound Physicians creates an environment where everyone feels approachable and welcoming. I’ve even reached out to our National Vice President for APP leads for assistance gathering documents needed for state licensing renewal. Within one day, I had the contact information for the appropriate departments to complete the process.
What do you enjoy most about collaborating with your Sound colleagues in a team-based care model?
Samantha: The collaborative team model really allows me to see different providers’ approaches to the same problem. Maybe I’m just nerdy, but it’s always fascinating to me how we can talk about a patient as a group, and each person will have their own approach to the issue. The best part is that all of them are correct. Each one considers the importance of different elements. I think discussing cases, whether we need help or not, makes us much more open-minded and allows us to grow as providers. It also helps me feel better supported if I do find myself needing a hand.
Jeffrey: The group of physician colleagues I work with are very collaborative and easy to approach. I feel empowered to make decisions in the moment while having the physician’s support to feel comfortable asking questions and collaborating on care choices, including late into the evening.
Hunter: As an ambassador, I’ve had the opportunity to work with several hospital programs of varying sizes and levels of sophistication, each with a unique culture. My colleagues are talented, intelligent clinicians who are always willing to work through challenging cases together and reach the best solution for the patient. I’ve absorbed so much wisdom! Each colleague has improved my skills as a hospitalist APP. Some have even improved my emotional intelligence as a human being! Everyone I have met has been so funny, interesting, and supportive. We are not only coworkers but friends. I have friends and colleagues all over the organization and the country now. With a job like ours, which can have some hard days, we need each other.
What was a pivotal moment or experience that shaped your career as an APP?
Samantha: The birth of my twins was hugely pivotal. I have always considered myself to be empathetic and grounded, but the premature birth of my twins at 27 weeks after being on bed rest for four weeks was a game-changer for me. I love kids, but I didn’t pursue a career in pediatrics directly because I wasn’t always sure how to handle parents’ emotions and feelings. Having children of my own really shaped who I was as a practitioner. Having children with so many complications — thankfully, most of which they have outgrown — made my compassion skyrocket. I suddenly knew what it felt like to be the parent who could look at her child and have a gut instinct that she would get sick or have trouble breathing. So, I made sure to start listening and really hearing parents’ concerns. I strive to keep them better informed, ensuring they fully understand my approach. It has become one of the most rewarding parts of my job.
Amanda: I have a story that stands out far more than any other. During COVID, I had a 20-year-old patient whose illness was extremely severe. His age hit home — my daughter was 20 years old at the time, and I couldn’t imagine what it felt like for his mom, grandmother, and girlfriend to sit at home and trust a stranger to care for him. Unfortunately, they didn’t have a choice. He and I bonded quickly. I would dress in my COVID gear and chart in his room with a laptop because he didn’t want me to leave. Soon, he was too tired to breathe on his own, and he was transferred to the ICU to go on a ventilator — my worst fear. I knew deep down that if he didn’t pull through, I wouldn’t either. I knew I would have to hang my hat up on being an APP. It was just too hard. We all have a breaking point. Fast forward, and he miraculously turned the corner and was able to move out of the ICU. Discharging him was one of the best days in my whole career as an APP. Though it was hard, I found such strength in his story. I plan to be a nurse practitioner for many years to come.
Alison: I have always been compassionate and strive to do the best for every patient and family member. It wasn’t until three years ago, when I saw my husband on a ventilator in an ICU after a tragic accident, that I fully appreciated the fear and anxiety that patients’ family members go through. On the other side, I experienced how impactful each provider interaction, positive or negative, can be.
What is a piece of advice you would give to someone considering a career as an APP?
Keli Ann: For those considering a career as an APP, know that you won’t be bored, and you won’t be disappointed! You will have so many opportunities to help patients in a variety of settings. You can try different areas of medicine to see what resonates with you. You will learn from other APPs and doctors who support each other as a team. We make a huge difference in the lives of the patients we care for. I love what I do, and I find it so rewarding.
Jeffrey: Don’t ever stop learning, moving ahead, or advocating for your role as an APP. Our roles are critical to healthcare delivery in nearly every aspect — affordability, accessibility, as well as compassionate, patient, individualized, and holistic care. So, when you feel like you know everything you can or need to in your job, it’s time to challenge yourself … challenge your knowledge.
Jessie: Work for Sound! Seriously though, for anyone even thinking about transitioning to the role of a provider, I always recommend a few things. First, do it for the right reasons. Second, don’t take the easy way for the sake of it being easy, especially in education and training. Look for and accept the challenge because, in the end, you are not only short-changing yourself but cheating and maybe even endangering your future patients. Third, know what you don’t know. Humility will carry you far and help you hone your skills and instincts as an APP.
Alison: Always be open-minded to suggestions and have the humility to know that there is always more to learn and different ways of doing things. Never be scared to ask for help or admit you don’t know something. Most importantly, always care for patients and their families as you would want yourself or your loved ones to be cared for.