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A Day in the Life: Primary Care NP

Vicky Stooke, NP

by: Merissa May, NP

Meet Victoria (Vicky) Stooke, a Nurse Practitioner who has been working in Primary Care for 8 years. She is currently employed at the Riley Park Primary Care Network, primarily in the Access365 clinic. 

Vicky Stooke, NP

What prompted you to consider moving into an Advanced Practice role in Nursing? 

I was thinking of getting my MN, when a friend of mine who is a physician prompted me to do the NP program. He had confidence in my clinical skills.

Why/How did you make the transition from RN work through your advanced degree and into NP practice?

My transition was fairly seamless as I worked in primary care already as a chronic disease management nurse.  I was able to use what I learned in the ANP:NP program in my job as an RN.

Can you tell us a bit about your clinical environment (e.g., where you work, with whom you collaborate, etc).

I work in a primary care clinic mostly in an after hours setting.  I see patients for primary care physicians in our PCN who are unable to see their patients for acute (and sometimes chronic) presentations. I collaborate with all team members – physicians, nurses, pharmacists, behavioural health consultants, reception staff and medical office assistants. 

What does your typical day look like?  

 I work an 8-hour day from 08:30 until approx. 16:30 to 17:00.  I see patients of all ages and for all presentations.  I also check and respond to labs and other tests for the entire clinic when I am on shift.

What extra training did your current position require over and above your NP program?

None in particular.  I don’t work in a specialized area, so the NP program was a good base for what I do now.  I am always doing continuing education with either dermatology conferences or Small Group Based Learning with McMaster University.

How does your role fit within established health care roles in your work area? 

My role fits particularly well at the after-hours clinic because I don’t have my own patient panel.  I am seeing patients on behalf of physicians who are unable to see their patients that day or who have been referred to our clinic through Health Link.  I work alongside physicians in a very collaborative role.

Ready to work during Covid-19

Describe a challenge you are currently facing in your practice. 

The main challenge I face right now is the COVID-19 pandemic and balancing seeing patients in person as opposed to telephone consults. It is quite a challenge to assess someone on the phone as seeing a patient in person is worth a thousand words.

What do you feel is unique about your practice setting?

I think it is unique that an NP has a role at the after-hours clinic.  I can’t think of any other similar clinics in Alberta that have a role like mine.

What do you feel is the biggest impact of the role of the NP in your practice setting?

I think the biggest impact is that more and more patients are becoming used to seeing an NP now.  When I first started practice, I had to explain the NP role with almost every patient.  Now, most patients understand my role and don’t question it.

What research or teaching are you involved in within your current role? 

I am an instructor for Athabasca University with either the Advanced Health Assessment or Adult Health Programs.  I am also a clinical preceptor for the AU NP students.

How can the NPAA support NPs working in your practice area?

In the future, I would like to see that the funding for NPs in primary care is not linked to working solely at a PCN.  I would like to see the funding follow the NP into any practice setting.  This would allow for non-PCN clinics to hire NPs or for NPs to open their own practice if that is what they choose.

What is one thing that you think NPs should be pursuing, as a group of professionals working towards the future of healthcare in AB?  

I would like to see more primary care NPs to balance out the numbers of NPs working in acute care.  I feel that working in primary care can provide health promotion and disease prevention in order to reduce the number of acute care visits, which is very costly to the healthcare system.

What advice do you have for NP students who want to work in your field?

If you are trying to pursue a primary care position, I would suggest that you get a job in primary care as an RN while you are working on your MN NP. This will help you in your transition into the NP role.

Editor’s Note: There are currently jobs posted for Primary Care positions. Consider applying! Here is a selection: (Edmonton Southside PCN) (Edmonton Oliver PCN – Opioid Clinic) (CUPS Calgary Society) (MacEwan University Health Centre) (Wolf Creek PCN – Sylvan Lake)