Clinical Rotation Advice for Nurse Practitioner Graduate Students

Interview with Kathleen McCue, Nurse Practitioner and Owner of Metropolitan Breastfeeding

Kathleen McCue’s wakeup call came when she was an LPN and a physician told her that she was “wasting her time in nursing” because she was better than 90% of the physicians he worked with. The moment was eye-opening for her—she realized she wasn’t reaching her full potential in life. With a fervent desire to help others and a strong connection to mothers and their newborn babies, McCue decided to continue with her education. Today, Kathleen McCue is a Nurse Practitioner who specializes in lactation and works in a primary care pediatric office and is the owner of Metropolitan Breastfeeding. In her career, McCue ensures babies are gaining weight and mothers are reaching their personal goals. She also works with a pediatrician 15 hours per week in order to maintain her nurse practitioner skills and promote preventative care.advice for nurse practitioner graduate students on clinical rotations

McCue received both her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York. Realizing she was so close to having a Doctor in Nursing degree, she attended Maryville University in St. Louis and completed her Nurse Practitioner education. Today, she is the President of the Lactation Consultant Association of Greater Washington. McCue is also a member of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Associates and Practitioners, and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

McCue excelled in college and won many awards including the Rochester Area Colleges’ Outstanding Adult Student Award, the St. John Fisher Highest Grade Point Average Award, and the St. John Fisher Advanced Practice Nursing Achievement Award. She is also a member of multiple honor societies. In addition to her educational achievements, McCue shares that being a mother and also working in the corporate world before becoming a nurse have helped prepare her for her healthcare career. She believes that everything we do in life trains us in one way or another. She shares that having her own children taught her empathy, tried her patience, exhausted her and also increased her confidence. These experiences have helped her to better relate to her patients.

Today, McCue is considered an expert in the area of lactation. She most recently spoke at the International Lactation Consultants Association Conference where she presented her doctoral work on Lesbian Domestic Partners and Breastfeeding. She also teaches nurse practitioner students and revealed that determination, curiosity, and energy are some of the qualities she looks for in her students and enjoys when they speak up, ask questions, and challenge her.

Enjoy our interview with Kathleen McCue, as she discusses the rewards and challenges of nurse practitioner programs, potential careers, and ways to improve after becoming an NP.

GradSchools: Tell us about your background and education. What led you to become a nurse practitioner?

When working with physicians, I realized their care plans were intuitive to me and would often prepare the treatment plan before they even came into the exam room. I finally had one physician tell me I was wasting my time in nursing and that I was better than about 90% of physicians he had worked with in the past. His comments made me realize I wasn’t reaching my full potential in life.

I returned for my RN, as I had been an LPN, and then stayed for the FNP (family nurse practitioner) courses. Two years ago, I realized I had one more degree to go before I could be introduced as “doctor.”

GradSchools: Why you did you decide to specialize in lactation?

Because I’m a feminist and realized that women were getting let down by many of their healthcare providers. There really aren’t many people that can bridge the gap between the mother’s breasts and the baby’s health. It’s not an OB or pediatrician’s determination, it’s the provider in the middle that can have the greatest impact. That’s also why I chose “family practice.” There’s a synergism between mothers and babies that I find fascinating.

GradSchools: What services do you provide your clients? Which ones do you find the most challenging?

I practice with a pediatrician 15 hours a week to maintain my NP skills and so, for that position, primary care pediatrics (sick, well, and preventive services). As a lactation consultant, I work to ensure babies gain weight and that moms reach their personal goals. The visits that are most challenging are when I feel I start to work harder than the mothers; there can be a lack of tenacity on the part of the mother and I have to remind myself that different women have different goals and that I work for them.

GradSchools: You worked in the corporate world before becoming a nurse practitioner. How has that experience informed your career?

Everything we do in life prepares us, in one way or another, for our careers. No experience is ever wasted and it’s fun to be able to identify with women working for corporations and help them achieve their goals after returning to work.

GradSchools: Which part of your education did you find to be the most helpful in terms of preparing you for a career as a nurse practitioner?

Interestingly enough, being a mother. It taught be empathy, tried my patience, exhausted me, and gave me confidence to have fun with my work… so, I GET it.

GradSchools: In your opinion, what are the most important qualities for a nurse practitioner? Which qualities are particularly helpful in your specialty?

In teaching NP students from many different universities, I like determination, curiosity, and energy. I also like students to tell me when they don’t know something or understand why we do something a certain way. I don’t want a herd of sheep, I want to be challenged by my students as well.

Couple those qualities with good basic life experiences and a basic NP school curriculum and nothing can compare. Also, be brave.

GradSchools: What do you recommend people look for when checking out nurse practitioner programs?

Courses that make sense and sound interesting and faculty with clinical experience in addition to teaching experience. My favorite professor in my NP program was a woman who taught school at night but practiced in the daytime. She’d come with the best real-life stories that taught us so much.

GradSchools: Many newly qualified NPs are nervous when starting their career. Do you have any advice for NPs starting their first clinical rotation?

Ask questions and don’t try to make something up when you don’t know it. I’ve been amazed at how some students seem so sure of themselves only to crumble when asked to explain their clinical reasoning.

GradSchools: In your opinion, what’s the best way to keep growing and improving as a nurse practitioner?

Things don’t really change as you move through your career; the same things that work for students work for seasoned NPs. Ask questions, keep up to date on your journals, and become a better listener when working with patients. It’s a balance though because with health insurance, we all need to be “efficient.” That means that you have to learn to do more with less—it’s another way to grow.

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