My first week working with a community health center in Washington was amazing! The facility had so many different departments including medical, dental, maternity, WIC, laboratory, imaging, and pharmacy. There are groups of people who are assigned different tasks to facilitate the medical process for both patients and providers. For example, there is a unit that works with referrals. So they establish appointments for patients with the specialty provider depending on their insurance and availability. In addition, after the appointment they follow-up to make sure the patient went to the consultation, and to obtain records from the visit. Then there is a unit that uploads all supplemental documents to the patients file on the electronic health record. They contact hospitals and other medical centers to obtain previous records, so when a patient comes in for a follow-up ER visit, you can know what was done in the ER.
Each provider has two medical assistants and one nurse assigned to them. The medical assistants bring the patients to the room, take their vital signs, and ask for the chief compliant. For well child exams, they do the hearing and vision tests as well. The nurse administers medications, does wound care, and will assess which vaccines are needed per visit and administer as necessary. This saves me time and energy from having to review which vaccines each child needs. Moreover, the medical assistants have established protocols in which they can do lab work if warranted. For instance, if a patient comes with a fever and sore throat, they can go ahead and perform the rapid strep test before I even see the patient. The same applies for urinary tract infections and possible pregnancies.
The facility is large and accommodates all of these departments. The best part would have to be all of my co-workers. They are all supportive, friendly, and encouraging. They always check in with me to see how I am doing. It is a good feeling to have a good relationship with other nurse practitioners, physicians, and physician assistants. Sometimes others in the medical field can be antagonizing, as I am sure many have experienced. It is a good feeling knowing I can ask any of them for help or a second opinion, as medicine is a constant learning process.
I feel spoiled with all of the support I have here because I can focus on my patient and their health. In places I have worked in Miami, I was often the sole provider. In addition, a lot of the assistive personnel were computer illiterate, so I had to input vital signs in the computer myself. A lot of them were not properly trained, so they could not help with assistive tasks such as notifying patients of their lab results. Nor did I ever have a nurse to administer medications, call in prescriptions for me, or provide patient teaching on insulin use. I was pretty much a jack of all trades. I definitely will not take for granted my experience with this community health center!
They are always looking for locums and permanent providers. So if you are interested in working in Washington with a community health center, I would love to refer you to them!