Life as an Nurse Practitioner: Julia Hill

Q&A with Julia Hill, MSN, MPH, FNP-BC

In honor of National Nurse Practitioners’ Week, we caught up with one of our favorite nurses, Julia Hill.

Julia graduated from Penn Nursing with her BSN in 2013, and received her Master of Science in Nursing as a Family NP and Master of Public Health in 2015. She completed a fellowship program at a Federally Qualified Health Center in NYC, and now works in a community health center in Charlestown, MA.

Trusted Health: Why did you decide to become a Nurse Practitioner?

Julia Hill: Throughout nursing school, I became increasingly frustrated with the fragmented health care systems that discharge patients back into the environments that (in most cases) contributed to their hospitalizations. I felt that there were so many preventative measures that failed, or were never implemented, to help these individuals in the long run. These frustrations fueled a passion for primary care and public health. I felt that with the background BSN training, I, as an NP, could help close those gaps our vulnerable patients fell through by becoming a primary care provider. Nonetheless, I decided to enroll in a joint MSN-MPH degree program directly after my BSN education. Prevention, prevention, prevention!

TH: Was it a tough decision to go back to school?

JH: Not really. I knew that I would be missing out on some of the experiences of an RN that might enrich my education, but I was (and still am!) young and eager to contribute to a mission I believe so strongly in. I also was enamored by the idea of ground-up healthcare, and working to fortify primary care services to help minimize preventable hospitalizations.

TH: How do you feel about Nurse Practitioners in Healthcare?

JH: I feel great about NPs in healthcare! I think that with the correct training, NPs can serve as a strong resource in primary care. On that note, write to your legislators if you live in a state without full practice authority! I can’t speak to the acute care setting as knowledgeably, but I believe NPs can fill a huge and growing primary care need. Our nursing foundations make us great educators on chronic disease, and we have the empathy and compassion needed to serve vulnerable populations. We can also now be certified to prescribe suboxone, which is a huge step towards addressing the opioid epidemic!

TH: Any hindsights, or things you wish someone had told you?

JH: I’ll do this one in bullet points, so see below!

  1. Focus on writing efficient but thorough notes in school.  There is nothing worse than seeing 20 patients in a day and having 20 unlocked notes to complete before you can have dinner.
  2. Being fluent in a second language is INVALUABLE.
  3. It’s important to know the laws in the state you work in regarding practice authority, but it’s equally important to vet the practice you plan to work in regarding the NP role. There is huge variation in how NPs are used even within states, so you must be diligent about doing your homework.
  4. Ask for what you want from a job, and find a mentor that will help you become a better practitioner. It doesn’t matter if this is an NP, MD, DO, PA – just someone with more experience than you that is willing to answer your questions and support your growth clinically and professionally.
  5. There isn’t enough time in school to learn everything that the world will throw at you once you’re working, so keep your textbooks! You’ll constantly be building your differential, and that requires regularly reading about all the diagnoses you encounter. I like using apps on my phone for this because I can read on my commute home.
What is, in your opinion, the future for Nurse Practitioners?


I think we are going to continue to see a growth of NPs in the workforce, especially in primary care and community health. I also believe there will continue to be progress in the public perception of NPs as competent and independent clinicians. And hopefully my family will finally stop asking me what I do!

Go NPs! And Happy National NP Week!
Sarah Gray
Sarah is a Pediatric Clinical Nurse III at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital and a UCSF 2017 Evidence Based Practice Fellow. A New Jersey native, Sarah graduated from Penn Nursing and has been living in San Francisco ever since. She's been an athlete her whole life and continues to be passionate about health, fitness, and making the most of all opportunities. She continues to harness her passion for innovation and process improvement in her role as Founding Clinician at Trusted Health.