NP Week: Overcoming Challenges in the Retail Clinic Setting

In honor of NP Week, Contemporary Clinic spoke with nurse practitioner and Editorial Board member Courtney Ballina, BSN, MSN, NP, Professional Services Manager at Target Clinics.

In honor of NP Week (November 8-14, 2015),Contemporary Clinicspoke with nurse practitioner (NP) and Editorial Board member Courtney Ballina, BSN, MSN, NP, Professional Services Manager at Target Clinics.

1.Why did you decide to become an NP?

I love empowering people to care for themselves, but I also like to support them when they have fallen off of their wellness path. I found that while I enjoy working at the bedside, I wanted to focus more on preventative care and keeping people from ending up in that bed in the first place.

2. Why have you chosen to work in a retail clinic?

I find that the retail space has the least amount of barriers to allow me to come together with my patients in an authentic health care experience.

With every patient interaction, my hope is that I will impart some wisdom or knowledge that will allow them to lead a healthier, more satisfying life experience. I do that the best when I am able to genuinely connect with people on a personal level.

The barriers that often exist when seeing patients in a standard clinic are missing from a retail store. I see these people when they are sick, when their kids are sick, when they are buying paper plates for the Superbowl—you name it!

Because I see them so frequently, it is easy to build a trusting relationship with them, which allows me to do my best work.

3. What are some challenges that you face as an NP working in retail health?

NPs have overcome the lack of understanding of what they do, and retail is catching up to that right now.

I spend a lot of time educating patients and colleagues on what they can expect when they are being seen in a retail clinic setting. I also spend an equal amount of time educating my colleagues on the challenges of working in a retail clinic and how it truly is a specialty.

I am constantly challenged professionally in ways I never expected to be. Although the menu of services is more limited than primary care, our patients don’t always know what they are coming in for, so we have to be able to identify anything that falls outside of our menu of services and be able to triage that patient to the most suitable place for care.

The ability to manage patients appropriately and get them where they need to be is critical. As any rural ER nurse will tell you, there may not be a cath lab at my hospital, but my aptitude in identifying a myocardial infarction and taking action on first-line medications and coordinating a transfer to a cath lab are the pivotal decisions that determine whether the patient is going to ultimately have a good or bad outcome.

4. How canretail-basedNPs overcome these challenges?

Education is key! I am proud to be a retail clinician and feel very passionate about the industry. This passion is evident when I am speaking with friends, colleagues, at conferences, or really anytime the topic comes up.

I love to discuss instances where I was able to share in a patient’s experience by teaching them about an OTC medication, diagnosing and treating a minor illness, or even identifying a life-threatening condition that may have gone undetected had the patient not been walking through the store and thought to be seen for a “minor” issue due to the convenience of the clinic location. (All true stories!)

5.What are your hopes for the future of retail health?

I am excited to see the day when primary care really embraces retail health as a valuable partner in care. We are such a convenient, cost-effective touch point along the continuum of care, so it only makes sense to leverage us to efficiently care for the population as a whole.

I believe we set the pace when it comes to collaborating with other professionals, driving national quality initiatives, and increasing patient satisfaction. It will be interesting to see how the health care landscape changes when we are all able to come together and leverage each other’s strengths.

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