What Does a Trauma Nurse Practitioner Do?
Trauma is a fascinating and challenging field. One must always be on their toes and expect the unexpected. Trauma nurse practitioners (NPs) can work in emergency rooms and other acute care areas, and often lead the team in caring for patients who experience a traumatic accident or illness.
As with any nurse practitioner, trauma NPs can perform extensive physical exams, diagnose patients, order medications, treatments, and procedures, monitor progress and healing, and more. For example, if a patient comes in to the emergency department following a car accident, a trauma NP can perform a rapid assessment, order pain medications and imaging tests, and determine the recommended disposition.
In order to work in the field of trauma, nurse practitioners should have several personality traits. They must be able to work well under pressure, as some trauma cases come in quickly and require fast thinking. Similarly, they need to be able to rapidly assess a situation and order pertinent treatments. They must also keep calm in the face of severe trauma cases, which is imperative when deciding which courses of action are needed.
Trauma NPs should also maintain a compassionate demeanor. Trauma patients are often in shock and scared about what happened and what is currently happening. Remaining calm and demonstrating compassion and empathy helps establish trust while keeping the patient calm.
Trauma nursing can also be emotionally draining. Nurse practitioners working in this field should be able to recognize their own stress and identify coping mechanisms that help get them through some tough cases. Finding healthy outlets for stress can help prevent burnout. Finding and becoming involved in hobbies, yoga and meditation, peer and family support, as well as one's spirituality are ways trauma NPs can deal with the emotions involved with caring for trauma patients.
Trauma can also be extremely fulfilling for nurse practitioners. The ability to intervene quickly to save someone's life is a reward like no other.