Journey From ThriveAP Cohort 1 to Expert Faculty: Shawna Harney, RN, MSN, FNP-C
Featured ThriveAP Faculty Discussion: Shawna Harney, RN, MSN, FNP-C
At ThriveAP we are honored to have an expansive faculty of expert speakers and APPs with impressive credentials and experience. Today we are talking with one of our esteemed faculty members to gain their advice for thriving in an advanced practice career.
Shawna Harney, RN, MSN, FNP-C, expands upon her journey from one of ThriveAP's first cohort participants to expert faculty. She shares career advice for NPs and PAs and talks through what to look for in a mentor. Watch the interview below with Sarah Maxwell, Director of Marketing at ThriveAP and Shawna Harney, RN, MSN, FNP-C, or read the transcript.
Meet Shawna Harney, RN, MSN, FNP-C
Sarah Maxwell: Hello, my name is Sarah Maxwell, Director of Marketing at ThriveAP. At ThriveAP, we are honored to have an expansive faculty of expert speakers and APPs with impressive credentials and experience. Today, I'm going to take a few moments to get to know one of our faculty members a little bit better and gain some of their advice for thriving in an advanced practice career. Thank you for joining us today Shawna Harney, RN, MSN, FNP-C!
Shawna Harney, RN, MSN, FNP-C: Hi. Thank you for having me.
SM: Thank you for joining us. I would love if you, we could start by just getting to know you a little bit better. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background where you practice?
SH: I am a family nurse practitioner. I started my career as a nurse practitioner with ThriveAP and was one of those first cohorts in primary care, family medicine, before I worked in emergency medicine and trauma centers as an RN for about eight years.
And then when I came out, I wanted to transition into preventative medicine and help prevent ER visits. I was placed at a FQHC with the help of the residency program. Did that for a year and I was in Oregon at a migrant health center. With the help of my mentors, with the help of this program, was able to really set up a foundation to move forward at that health center.
I was doing migrant healthcare. We did mobile healthcare and school-based healthcare along with like the traditional clinic. So that was really great because I could use my emergency skills and urgent care skills for acute care. I also, started working PRN to build those skills out even more at emergency department with my nurse practitioner, and along with some urgent care as well.
Then moving from there, when the Covid Pandemic shifted everything for everyone, we started doing outside health clinics and offering care to everyone that we could, and trying to continue prevention. So that was a project in itself. And then, ultimately, my family made the decision to move closer to home, which is for us St.Louis. So we looked into that and I got a job at the VA. One of my passions in primary care was endocrine and working with patients, since it's such a broad multi-system specialty, that I ended up getting offered a job in the specialty. So I've transitioned into that and that's been really an exciting, I've learned so much working in endocrine.
I also continue to work in urgent care because, at the VA, we don't see many kids and I miss seeing kids. I also like to keep my skills up and so I've continued to work in an urgent care setting and doing everything I can for that. I still really have a passion for underserved populations and bridging the gap. The gap in health education. That's really what I try to do, and strive now being part of ThriveAP and being able to, give back to what I had in that first year of residency is really exciting. I'm having a great time doing that. I think it's something that our physician assistants and nurse practitioners aren't always given that support and so many times it's just really unfair because that first six months to a year is just so overwhelming.
I think having the tools and resources and even the confidence boost by having a team around you is really fun to be part of.
SM: You brought up a couple points there. One, I don't think I realized that you had actually gone through our original program. That's amazing.
SH: Yeah, it was fantastic. Being able to have that and the camaraderie of the other new grads was really great too, because I was the only one in my clinic setting. Eventually they brought on new, new grads, but being able to have that and have someone to call during those first few weeks when you just don't know what to do at the end of your day and no one else is in the clinic anymore. Having those mentors that are connected through ThriveAP was fantastic.
"Being able to have someone to call during those first few weeks when you just don't know what to do at the end of your day, and no one else is in the clinic anymore - having those mentors that are connected through ThriveAP was fantastic."- Shawna Harney, RN, MSN, FNP-C
SM: Total full circle. You also spoke a little bit about this already, but you started to touch a little bit on what, on your passion. I would love to know, you know, kind of what, what are you most passionate about in your, in your current role?
SH: I think currently it's just connecting. Building connections with patients and then being able to give them the tools to work as a team. I think that's what I always try to think of in my practice - I'm standing alongside them, guiding them in their decision-making and giving them information they didn't have before about either their chronic disease or their acute care management. I see them in just a brief moment and I think that's the opportunity. Maybe that's the only person they're gonna see the whole year for their healthcare. So I use those opportunities to be compassionate, because ultimately, it is prevention and trying to keep people out of the ER and with a better quality of life.
"Building connections with patients and then being able to give them the tools to work as a team. I think that's what I always try to think of in my practice - I'm standing alongside them, guiding them in their decision-making and giving them information they didn't have before" - Shawna Harney, RN, MSN, FNP-C
SM: And is that kind of what attracted you to joining the faculty at ThriveAP or were there a couple of factors?
SH: I think that setting up other nurse practitioners and physician assistants for success, especially during the last few years with pandemic burnout, everyone is having a difficult time. I just think if we can support each other, then we'll be able to do better for our patients and our populations.
SM: I swear every time we do one of these interviews, I end up saying this, but it's always so true. It's been really fun for me to get to know our faculty because you really get this sense of camaraderie, of the desire to give back to your fellow APPs and to help build the next generation, and guide from your experience. I think that's such a unique aspect of the career and of the role.
"It's been really fun for me to get to know our faculty because you really get this sense of camaraderie, of the desire to give back to your fellow APPs and to help build the next generation, and guide from your experience. I think that's such a unique aspect of the career and of the role." - Sarah Maxwell, Director of Marketing, ThriveAP
SH: Yeah, it's a very special place to be part of.
SM: Speaking of supporting your APPs of the next generation, when you think about maybe who your mentors were or what you think the mentors of today should be, what do you think those key attributes are?
SH: What we are looking for in mentorship is having an experience, being able to give you real life explanations, having that time - which I think is important too because you can have mentors but not necessarily have the space to be vulnerable with them too. So I think that's important. And you have to find someone that practices in the same way that you practice too. You kind of have to find where you click with that person as well, and I think having more people around to support is the better because then you can really find who you go to for certain things too.
SM: Yeah, you can kind of find your right path and, and where you, where you fit, so to say.
SM: Do you have any favorite journals or resources that you use to make sure that you're staying abreast the latest procedures or updates in the space?
SH: UpToDate is a go-to and 5 Minute Consult. Whenever I'm in urgent care, I use that typically as a resource. The Journal of Urgent Care Medicine is something that I follow and then some Hippocrates to get updated on some pharmacy and pharmaceuticals there. There's a lot of information in CME within the VA system and a lot of research that I'm lucky to be part of.
SM: If you had to pinpoint maybe your most noteworthy career accomplishments, what would that be? And could you tell us a little bit about why?
SH: I would say, when I'm able to start a new process, I really enjoy process improvement that ultimately affects patient outcomes. Recently, doing a weight management work group, we created a more multidisciplinary team for our endocrine center. Having an RD, a Pharmacist, Endocrinologist, and myself all working together towards one goal, I think that made for a lot better outcome for patients.
In my early career at the FQHC, the Hepatitis C program, we were seeing that patients were really falling out of that program. I like to see where the need is, and then go from there. But I think in that same way, it kind of set me up to be able to do these other programs too. I think anything that can provide access and extension makes me very happy. So I feel proud of those moments.
SM: Absolutely. It sounds like you're innovating new processes that are, like you said, providing better care and more quality care for people who really need it. That's wonderful. And you know, I want be very cognizant of your time today so I just have one more question for you. What advice would you give to apps up today so that they could prepare for a successful future and maybe follow in your successful footsteps?
SH: I would say to just be open. Be open to creating relationships and learning from everyone around you. You want to ask questions and dive in in that first year, say yes to opportunities and you might be surprised at what you end up loving and learning through that. I think that's the best way to propel anything.
"Be open to creating relationships and learning from everyone around you. You want to ask questions and dive in in that first year, say yes to opportunities and you might be surprised at what you end up loving and learning through that." - Shawna Harney, RN, MSN, FNP-C
SM: That's great advice. I think I've kind of heard people think, "oh, I'm totally going to go down this specialty, and this is where I'm going, and then suddenly, there's an experience in clinic or with a preceptor or through a certain case and suddenly it's, wait, I never thought about that avenue!" So, saying yes and exploring that could be really career changing.
SM: Well with that, I think we've taken up enough of your valuable time. So I want thank you for being here with us today and sharing your incredible expertise.
SH: Thank you so much. Happy to be part of ThriveAP.
SM: Thank you, we're honored to have you, trust me. And thank you everyone for joining us and stay tuned to meet more of a faculty. Have a great rest of your day.
More About Shawna Harney, RN, MSN, FNP-C
Shawna Harney, RN, MSN, FNP-C is a Family Nurse Practitioner with over 15 years of health care experience. She earned her bachelor's degree from Southern Illinois University and began her career as a RN at a Level 1 Trauma Center in St. Louis, MO. Following her time in St. Louis she began travel nursing and took contracts in Texas, Colorado, and California. During her time as a travel nurse she graduated with her Family Nurse Practitioner degree from Maryville University in 2016. She was one of the first APP participants with ThriveAP in the Family Medicine program. She started her NP career at a Federally Qualified and Migrant health center that focused on the medically underserved where she held a panel in clinic, provided care on the mobile health unit and in school based health centers, led the Hepatitis C program, and created an outdoor clinic at the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic to continue to provide preventative care to patients during times of social distancing. After her first year of practice she began working PRN at the local Emergency Department and Urgent Cares to continue to advance her skills in acute care. In August 2020 she relocated back to St. Louis for a position in Endocrinology and sees both inpatient and outpatients and continues to practice her Urgent Care skills with a PRN position.
She feels the transition to practice curriculum through ThriveAP gave her the skills to be successful in her first years of practice and is happy to be able to mentor and provide the same experience for new graduate nurse practitioners and physician assistants.