PULSE: Why I Love My Job: Karen Petersen-Pugmire, APRN, CCRN, CNRN

Job: Trauma nurse practitioner, Atlanta Medical Center

Karen Petersen-Pugmire

Karen Petersen-Pugmire is a trauma nurse practitioner at Atlanta Medical Center. Photo by Barry Williams, for the AJC.

What I do: “I take care of all the trauma patients admitted to the floor. We get everything from gunshot wounds to car accidents.

“I round daily with the attending physicians, looking at the whole spectrum of patient care, ordering tests, managing pain and educating patients and staff. I’m the liaison between patients and their families, and doctors and nurses.”

What got me interested in this: “Out of nursing school, I worked for six months on the [neurology] floor; then went into ICU for 15 years before becoming a trauma nurse practitioner.

“I like the fast pace and challenge of very sick patients, who usually have multiple orthopedic injuries and other issues. I want to fix it, whatever it is.”

Best part of the job: “I love knowing that I make a difference in my patients’ stay here. I can take care of them as their conditions change, and I can be here for the nurses as an added resource.

“I love teaching and enjoy being the ‘go-to’ person. Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t tell me they appreciate my being here.”

Most challenging part: “The juggling. Sometimes there are people lined up outside my door when I come in. A patient needs oxygen, a family member has a question, there’s a phone call at the desk… there can be so many people calling my name at the same time, and I want to take care of everyone.”

What people don’t know about my job: “People don’t understand the role of the nurse practitioner and my advanced training. Some think I’m a physician’s assistant — but they’re more focused on procedures and some of them don’t have master’s degrees. I’m a nurse first and foremost, and my job is to take care of the whole patient.”

What keeps me going: “I love what I do and knowing that we’re giving our trauma patients the highest level of care.”

Preparation needed: “You first have to be a registered nurse and then complete a master’s program to become a family nurse practitioner. Experience as a critical care or an ER nurse helps in this job.”

Salary range: “Nurse practitioners in Georgia make between $65,000 and $95,000. Some ER nurse practitioners make more.”

By Laura Raines, Pulse editor. Got a health care job that you love? Please e-mail john.brieske@ajcmediasolutions.com.

6 comments Add your comment

PULSE: 0ctober 2009 edition | Blog Break

September 29th, 2009
10:55 am

[...] Why I Love My Job: Karen Petersen-Pugmire, APRN, CCRN, CNRN [...]


October 9th, 2009
10:11 am

The best Nurse Practicioner in Atlanta, Ga.

Cheryl Maness

October 10th, 2009
3:39 pm

Way to go Karen! You are so lucky to have a job that you love, that is rewarding and that you are good at. Keep up the good work.


October 16th, 2009
9:45 pm

Congrats on all your success! I am a PA with a Master’s degree and have always found it very disappointing that even to this date most NPs are convinced that they are “better” than PAs when in fact we are all mid level practitioners. Correction…PA’s do NOT focus on procedures mainly…maybe in your experince but certainly that is not the fact or the norm. Just wanted to clarify… As mid level providers NPs and PAs should be more positive and supportive of each other.


October 16th, 2009
9:51 pm

Although I agree that ALL PAs should have at least a Master’s degree, let us not forget that regardless of this, we all sit for the same certifying exam. If you are not competent to pass the board exam you may have your PhD which would be useless for that matter.
PAs, like NPs are mature individuals who usually have many years of experince in health care and most importantly DIRECT patinet care.


March 29th, 2010
10:52 pm

For the above two comments: spelling matters. Grammar–especially for a reputed Master’s-degree holder–is important. Wow. No, really–wow.