Making a Case for the Dermatology NP Portfolio
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Editor's note: This blog post was written by Maggie Macy, NP, who practices in the occupational health and dermatology departments at Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Bedford, Mass.
I am new at something for the first time in many years. I am a nurse practitioner practicing in dermatology for less than a year. I have 13 years of ambulatory care experience as a nurse practitioner. Thus far, my training in dermatology has been through my employer. My "locally grown" dermatology training has included following and practicing clinical skills with dermatology medical residents in the Boston Veterans Administration. I train by reading, attending conferences, forming mentor relationships and executing practical dermatology skills. I am stretched, happily so, as I work my way toward becoming a seasoned dermatology nurse practitioner.
I also am acutely aware however of the challenges associated with how to proceed as a learner. It has all been somewhat unprogrammed learning, which is okay because there are multiple safety valves in the VA system if I am inexperienced in some area. At the Boston area VA, we are fortunate to have a robust teledermatology program that can ping photos with written consults to dermatologist in the larger medical centers. We also can, as needed, directly refer patients to the larger dermatology clinics. So I am far from feeling cut astray. Despite these great resources, there is no universal, distinct pathway toward training and accomplishments for new nurse practitioners in dermatology.
I attended the Dermatology Nurses' Association (DNA) conference for the first time this year in Denver. I was fortunate to be asked to summarize the presentation by Mary Nolan on portfolio development. I think her proposals are relevant and completely accurate. Portfolio development can encompass those of us newcomers who could not, due to life circumstances such as distance or family obligations, enroll in a dermatology NP residency program. Portfolio development is fluid and can address and measure the continuum of skills and experience. It can provide a real road map for career-long training. I look forward to portfolio development becoming a reality in the DNA. I intend to continue to rally to make it happen and invite you to do so, too.