By Chris Waybright, MSN, FNP-C, Assistant Director of Advanced Practice Clinicians, Southeast Group, and Co-chair, Hospital Medicine DARE Taskforce
Ever since I was a child, I have been inspired by those in the healthcare community and their desire to care for others. Throughout the darkest days in history, healthcare providers have been a common beacon of hope, humanity and love. The idea of becoming a small part of such an open and evolving community is what drew me to medicine; however, it is not what drew me to becoming a nurse practitioner.
Growing up in rural West Virginia, I quickly learned that nurse practitioners were a necessity to support the health and well-being of the state and to ensure that communities had access to quality care. Seeing firsthand the vulnerable populations that were being served such outstanding care led me to pursue becoming a nurse practitioner.
My path to leadership at TeamHealth
I started with TeamHealth in 2017. After becoming a Lead Advanced Practice Clinician, I became more involved with committees both within and outside of TeamHealth before transitioning to my current role with the APC leadership team. In my role, I assist in the oversight and support of advanced practice for emergency and hospital medicine across 11 states in the southeastern United States. I also practice as a hospitalist nurse practitioner at Grand Strand Medical Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Leadership was something I never thought I would pursue. In the beginning of my career I, like many, was purely in survival mode. The idea of taking on additional responsibilities seemed impossible. However, as I started to learn my role and become more comfortable, I noticed subtle opportunities to improve the day-to-day work environment for APCs and better meet the needs of our patients. Fortunately, my ideas were welcomed and encouraged.
After working with other leaders and learning from their wisdom, I realized the reason I wasn’t previously interested in leadership was because I was under the impression a leader was responsible for telling others where to go. After having been mentored by those I consider to be the best, I learned that leaders give others the opportunity to find their way and the safety to forge their own path to success.
The support, encouragement and care that leaders provide to their teams are what drew me to leadership. As mentors provided me space to find my path to leadership, I wanted to do the same for others.
Leadership and advocacy for advanced practice clinicians
I have had the privilege to be mentored by so many wonderful leaders. I am passionate about passing on what I have learned to other advanced practice leaders and advocating for the advancement of APCs.
Through the support of many great leaders throughout TeamHealth, we have developed a leadership training program for advanced practice leaders to better understand various leadership topics and to develop the skills needed to lead successful APC teams.
Additionally, providing support and development opportunities for hospital medicine advanced practice programs has become an area I truly enjoy. I am fortunate to co-chair the TeamHealth Development, Advancement, Retention and Engagement (DARE) Taskforce focused on nurse practitioners and physician assistants within the field of hospital medicine. This taskforce has provided a platform for the growth of advanced practice through:
- Innovative career development and leadership training programs
- Resource development to support APC autonomy and scope of practice growth
- Focused retention efforts specific to hospital medicine APCs
Reflections on being a nurse practitioner
What I love most about being a nurse practitioner is having the opportunity to connect with patients and their families during times of uncertainty or when it seems that all hope is lost. To be honest, I think what I love most about medicine is not the medicine at all, but the connections and lasting impressions we as clinicians have the opportunity to make.
Being an APC at TeamHealth means opportunity. Opportunity to grow and perfect your practice in an environment that is supportive, collaborative and encouraging. Opportunity to think outside of the walls of traditional healthcare to develop new and innovative solutions to bring the highest quality care to our patients. Finally, being an APC at TeamHealth affords the opportunity for APCs to shape our current practices and staffing structures to adapt to ever-changing headwinds and to develop best practices for APCs to thrive.
We, as nurse practitioners, are often faced with challenge after challenge. For the past three years, being a clinician has not been easy. Throughout the pandemic, I’ve found myself focusing on getting back to what I perceived as a return to normalcy, often to be met with yet another unseen obstacle. I was looking for light at the end of the tunnel. I was hoping for time to pass and lead to brighter days. Now, I am trying to focus on the light around me each and every day.
Honoring nurse practitioners
Over the past three years, we have made meaningful relationships, learned valuable lessons, gained resiliency and seen unimaginable achievements during one of humanity’s most difficult times. Often, obstacles are opportunities.
COVID-19 highlighted how valuable APCs truly are. Our APCs demonstrated flexibility to healthcare changes and needs by practicing in multiple service lines and adapting to high patient acuity. APCs supported their communities with unwavering leadership and maintained the highest quality of patient care. These skills will be invaluable as we continue to move advanced practice ahead at TeamHealth.
Thank you to all of our NPs for the care and support you provide to your patients, colleagues and communities every day. Happy National Nurse Practitioner Week! For more stories from our clinicians, associates and the communities we serve, subscribe to our blog.