#LocumLife: Transitioning From Primary to Urgent Care
For the majority of my NP career, I have worked in a family practice setting. I have treated a wide variety of patients and illnesses, and have had the privilege of learning from many different medical providers. I love family medicine, as it is a great way to really get to know your patients and their families. This branch of medicine also teaches you a lot about the medical management of complex diseases.
Although I’ll always have a heart for primary care, after several years of working in family practice, I started to feel the urge to branch out into a different area of medicine. I was ready for a change of pace and to use my hands-on procedural skills more. Thankfully, as a locum tenens provider, I have the ability to choose contracts that best fit my lifestyle and preference. So, when the opportunity came up to work in an urgent care setting, I jumped at the chance when offered the position.
The First Step
After my initial excitement wore off, and the assignment drew nearer, I began to feel more nervous and anxious. There were a lot of new unknowns in the near future. I was moving to a new city, starting a new job, leaving primary care, and on top of all that, I had to learn a new EMR. Trust me when I say that locum tenens is not for the faint of heart! Although I had a strong family medicine background, I didn’t have a ton of urgent care experience per se. Sure, I have treated many of the same issues that an urgent care center treats - but I wasn’t doing urgent care all day long.
In order to best prepare for my transition, I, of course, needed to get new clothes. I purchased some fancy scrubs from Amazon. I worked on practice modules of the EMR and brushed up on some of my procedural skills. As I was assigned to several clinics, and every day in urgent care is wildly different, I had no idea what my patient population would be and what kinds of cases I would be seeing. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.
The First Day
My first day of my urgent care assignment was a whirlwind. I thought I was going to be shadowing the provider that day, but I ended up seeing a ton of patients myself while scrambling to keep up with the high volume of patients. In this profession, it’s sink or swim, so you have to learn to swim fast. The hardest part for me was learning the new EMR and how the clinic flowed. I was definitely pushed out of my comfort zone and had to rely on both my inner and outer strength to make it through the day. By the end of my 12-hour shift, I fell into bed exhausted. I needed to get a good night’s sleep, since the following day I was scheduled to work at another clinic.
I have no idea where this urgent care journey will take me, or even how long I will explore this specialty before trying something else or returning to primary care. Thankfully, being a locum NP gives me that flexibility to figure it out and try something new.
But I do know this: sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone to not only grow, but to trust and believe in yourself. So for now, I’ll keep moving forward, one day at a time, trying to be the best NP that I can be.