The definition of a Corporate Health NP is an NP working in an occupational or corporate health setting providing acute, episodic, preventative, and primary care with a focus on wellness. Corporate Health NPs work in a wide variety of settings, from large investment firms to manufacturing companies to advertising agencies to small businesses.
About Carmen Saunders, MSN, FNP-BC: Carmen Saunders is a Corporate Health Nurse Practitioner at Premise Health. As a Corporate Health NP, Ms. Saunders works at a number of Corporate Onsite Wellness Clinics, and provides primary care services to employees of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Barclay’s Capital, Time Warner CNN, Ogilvy, White & Case, Scholastic, TIAA-CREF, and New York Life. She is a Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner with 10 years of nursing experience spanning diverse settings including hospital and clinic settings in addition to her corporate nursing experiences. Ms. Saunders also works as Communications Chair, Board Member, and Social Media Content Community Co-Manager for Nurse Practitioners of New York (NPNY).
Prior to her role at Premise Health, Ms. Saunders was a Corporate Health Nurse Practitioner at MacAndrews and Forbes and Morgan Stanley, and prior to that was a Nurse Practitioner and Lung Transplant Coordinator at Columbia University Medical Center. She also worked as a Staff Registered Nurse in a hospital setting, specifically in telemetry, float pool, and endoscopy units at St Vincent’s Medical Center in New York City and Wake Medical Center in North Carolina. Ms. Saunders earned her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from the University North Carolina at Greensboro in 2004 and her Masters of Science in Nursing from the College of Mount Saint Vincent’s in Riverdale in 2010.
[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] Could you please describe your role and responsibilities as a Corporate Health Nurse Practitioner/Family Nurse Practitioner for Premise Health, as well as in your past position as a Corporate Health Nurse Practitioner for MacAndrews and Forbes?
[Carmen Saunders, MSN, FNP-BC] As a Corporate Health Nurse Practitioner, my main responsibility is to evaluate, diagnose, treat, and educate patients at onsite health clinics throughout New York City. I work at many different sites with a few being: Morgan Stanley, Barclays Capital, Time Warner, and New York Life. Daily tasks include: treating episodic and acute conditions such as you would see in the emergency room or urgent care settings. Along with occupational health care such as travel health, immunizations, and biometric screenings.
Long-term tasks are focused more on chronic and preventative conditions you may see in primary care such as physical exams, well women exams, preventative health screens, and health and wellness coaching. Each site has a different group of team members depending on the number of employees at the site. Often times there will be an MD, RN, MA, NP/PA, and other support staff such as PT, Nutritionists, and Ergonomists. Other times you may be the only provider on site. At Morgan Stanley, I was the sole provider to 4,000 employees and acted as a site manager with the help of an administrative assistant. At MacAndrews and Forbes, a privately owned company, the population was around 200, however the medical staff was extensive as the level of care and expectation was set high. Working full time in both of these roles, the NP is responsible for educational campaigns for employees, so incorporating time into your schedule to construct and implement these can be done by blocking off a few hours per week in your schedule. You also work closely with other members of the team to share the responsibility and divide appropriate topics for patient education. Many of our lectures were done via conference calls making it easy for employees across multiple sites to attend.
[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] Could you please provide a definition of corporate health nursing–for example, in what types of settings do corporate health nurse practitioners work, and what types of patients and medical situations do they treat and address, respectively? How do you feel this field of advanced practice nursing has evolved (and will continue to evolve) over the years?
[Carmen Saunders, MSN, FNP-BC] The definition of a Corporate Health NP is an NP working in an occupational or corporate health setting providing acute, episodic, preventative, and primary care with a focus on wellness. Corporate Health NPs work in a wide variety of settings, from large investment firms to manufacturing companies to advertising agencies to small businesses. We serve CEOs, support staff, consultants, family members. The people we serve and the types of services we provide depend on the client’s needs (the client being the company paying for our services). Every site is different in terms of who gets these services and what services are provided. Medical situations vary from urgent care, primary care, acute, episodic, travel health, women’s health, and everything in between. Many employees are using the corporate site as their primary care. As insurance premiums continue to rise, I have seen an increase in the utilization of onsite care. Employees are opting not to use their insurance deductibles. Most sites provide treatments, vaccines, and medications as well. Our services benefit the employee as they do not need to utilize their health insurance nor take time off from work to see a doctor. This means the employee can continue working as we take care of them and the client who is paying for our services like both of these things too. So it’s a win-win for both parties.
Corporate Health will thrive as long as businesses stay in business and employees need services. Technology will be the biggest threat to onsite centers. If employees aren’t physically onsite to receive services, then we aren’t needed. However, as health care costs increase for employer and employee, this area of Nursing may grow as employers think of fresh ways to provide health services to their employees at a lower cost. I see Corporate Health Nursing and Technology needing to join forces and there are already several companies that are already doing this such as Doctor on Demand. Employee health may need to incorporate more technology services as a part of their model as we see more wellness offerings going digital. Corporate Sites have been around for years but traditionally they were MD and RN-staffed, not NP staffed. Now that the number of NPs is increasing steadily, we are seeing an increase in this sector.
[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] Could you please describe in detail your past roles as a Nurse Practitioner and Lung Transplant Coordinator at Columbia University Medical Center, and as a Staff Nurse at St. Vincent’s Medical Center and Wake Medical Center? How did these roles differ from your current position as a corporate health nurse practitioner, in terms of the team you worked with and your daily responsibilities?
[Carmen Saunders, MSN, FNP-BC] In my past roles as a Nurse Practitioner at CUMC, I worked in an outpatient clinic in lung transplant pre and post. As a staff nurse in the hospital you are taking care of people at their sickest point. The patient acuity is much higher in the hospital therefore, you have teams of specialists and the care is 24/7. In corporate health you are in a primary care or urgent care setting. Our job is to identify and refer out if needed. You will have to handle emergencies onsite and you will need to know how to handle them by yourself, as you may be the only clinician on site. At bigger sites with MDs and RNs you will have a larger support staff to depend on, but being self-sufficient is very important. As with most nursing jobs being a team player but being able to work independently is a great balance to have.
[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] Why did you decide to work in corporate settings as a nurse practitioner, and what path did you take to discover that this field of advanced practice nursing was right for you?
[Carmen Saunders, MSN, FNP-BC] I decided to make the switch to corporate health as I knew the hospital setting wasn’t for me but I wasn’t sure how to leave. I taught myself how to use social media and “brand” myself into the thing I wanted to become–I wasn’t sure what it was but looking back it was definitely a corporate profile. For 30 days, one hour before and after work, I would work on my LinkedIn profile to become more visible to the world and then one day someone called me up from MacAndrews and Forbes to say they saw my profile on LinkedIn through the organization Nurse Practitioners of New York, an organization back then I was a member of (but now I sit on as a board and chair member for). Since MacAndrews and Forbes, Corporate Health is more my speed. So I guess you could say I didn’t really find Corporate–I may have set myself up to be found, but it found me! I stay in corporate health for the wellness aspect, I like the patient population, and I love the companies at which I work. The patients appreciate you, and the schedule is great. The main reason I enjoy Corporate Health is the whole premise behind it, which is providing preventative care, wellness, and education, and those are 3 things I have always liked since I was in NP school.
I do feel working in a hospital or outpatient clinic setting was needed to get here. You need to be able to visualize the future with the patient and handle the worst case scenarios and recognize them in case they happen. There is a lot of teaching and preventative health that goes on here and it’s hard to teach that if you don’t know what you are preventing. But if you have already seen it, it’s much easier to teach someone and point out the red flags. Also, being in the hospital you learn awesome teamwork and that is something you will bring to any career path you choose.
[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] What have been some of the most rewarding aspects of working as a nurse practitioner in corporate settings? On the other hand, what specific challenges have you encountered in this field of work, and how have you managed these challenges?
[Carmen Saunders, MSN, FNP-BC] The rewarding aspects of working as a nurse practitioner in a corporate setting is seeing the progress clients make and developing relationships with your clients as you are in a small setting. You will have “regulars” and you will have people who appreciate your help greatly. You also have a certain level of independence and will learn things and see things that you might have never seen depending on your level of experience.
Challenges are that while working independently is good for some, it can be challenging for others, and you will need to take initiative to be able to diagnose and prescribe accordingly. You will also need to be able to refer out appropriately because there will be times when you don’t know what the solution is and you will need to feel comfortable telling a patient that. There is also an exceptional level of customer service involved, with the general expectation of going above and beyond, as you will be dealing with many high end clients who may ask for many “extra” things and you will need to adjust accordingly to accommodate needs. This is probably the biggest adjustment for many hospital nurses.
In order to prepare for Corporate Health, get experience in primary, emergency or urgent care. Also, work in prestigious hospitals and learn how to work on floors that carry VIP patients. In the corporate world, clients have high expectations. And don’t forget if you are a contractor, like myself, working for a company, the Corporation you are working for is also your client, so you need to please them as well and make sure their management is happy! There are your company guidelines, needs, and wants and then the company or setting you are working in has guidelines, needs, and wants, so you have to be ready to please two sets of management! The best advice I can give you to deal with these challenges is always do what is safe for you and the client, ask questions if you are not sure, come up with a plan for action and then say you are not sure but here is what we can do…, trust your gut feeling, and think and pause before you let your emotions get involved with a reaction such as an email or response to a question.
[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] For current and prospective MSN students who are interested in becoming corporate health nurse practitioners, what advice can you give them about optimally preparing for this field while pursuing their degree?
[Carmen Saunders, MSN, FNP-BC] For MSN students, the FNP track is a good one because some corporate sites will require you to see the family members of the clients. And working in primary care, urgent care or ER care you may also need to see pediatrics as well. For clinical placements, I’d suggest working in primary, ER, or urgent care. If you want to try a corporate site try it out, but I would stick with the higher acuity and work your way down once you are out of school.
Both of my corporate jobs have been a result of the volunteering and networking I have done within my local NP Organization NPNY. Get involved with nursing organizations, attend meetings, become a part of the board. You never know how your skills may be needed in helping an organization to grow. Also, there you will meet fellow NPs employed at these corporate centers and that is how you may get your next clinical placement or job. Many of your jobs will be a result of whom you know and that weighs heavily in corporate care, which is largely based on referrals and networking. Get involved with groups in your area, nationally, and online such Corporate Health Groups on LinkedIn. Once you have completed your MSN there will be multiple types of certifications you will be able to take depending on what area you’re interested in. I am doing health coaching now with WellCoaches, because it is a part of what I do at work, I realized I liked it and was good at it. Others will do Occupational health certifications, Travel health certifications, or Business degrees. My advice is to try to obtain a certification in an area you enjoy doing as it is time, effort, and money. But if you enjoy doing it, you will feel like nothing is sacrificed.
Thank you Ms. Saunders for participating in our APRN career guide interview series!