Nurse Practitioner Spotlight
A career as a psychiatric nurse practitioner can be replete with challenges and opportunities. The NP Psych Navigator Spotlight is your chance to learn more about NPs who are working to advance the profession and mental health in general. In the fourth installment of this series, we profile Samantha Lau, MSN, FNP-BC, PMHNP-BC.
NP Spotlight: Samantha Lau, MSN, FNP-BC, PMHNP-BC
In this NP Psych Navigator Spotlight, we would like to introduce Samantha Lau, MSN, FNP-BC, PMHNP-BC, who began her career as a nurse practitioner in psychiatry through extraordinary circumstances.
Samantha Lau developed an interest in healthcare as a young girl while tagging along on veterinary house calls with her grandfather and uncle in Hong Kong. Observing her family members care for animals, end suffering, and provide healing was an experience Samantha describes as “magical.”
A Deeper Meaning
Her interest in healthcare solidified further with her father’s diagnosis with diabetes. Shortly after a move to the United States, her father’s health took an unfortunate turn as he lost his vision and had to go on hemodialysis. Watching his physical decline and its impact on his entire well-being was painful. However, Samantha experienced a bright light in watching the nurses who provided compassion and empathy while caring for her father. She witnessed the deeper impacts of healthcare as the nurses lifted his spirits and instilled hope. Although it was painful watching a loved one suffer, these events ended up serving a larger purpose for Samantha by motivating her to pursue healthcare as a career.
A Happy Accident
Samantha’s journey into psychiatry was unexpected. While initially searching for family practice opportunities, a random email seeking nurse practitioners in psychiatry caught her eye. With wise words from her father encouraging her to boldly ask “why not?” and anticipating interview practice at the very least, she decided to pursue the opportunity. Through this process, Samantha realized her love of interacting with people and her passion for how the human psyche drives behaviors and feelings.
She is most passionate about helping women embrace their emotions and claim their power by helping them to see beyond their symptoms and tap into their true selves.
Samantha also strives to change a common perception of psychiatric services as merely a method of prescription distribution. In addition to their scientific approach and knowledge of psychopharmacology, psychiatric nurse practitioners share their nursing perspective to help their patients heal holistically. In her practice, Samantha emphasizes her approach to connecting with and seeing the patient as a whole to give a customized, high-quality, and results-driven guide to develop their vulnerable, yet most empowered selves. Her work is not without challenges. Seeing people suffer and walking with them through the dark places in their psyches are challenging tasks for this self-proclaimed empath. Samantha also notes the struggles in the current “underfunded and overloaded” mental healthcare system. She states that providers often lack adequate time to devote to the sheer number of patients in their care. Significant patient loads, heavy mental drain, and the additional stresses brought by COVID affect the mental health of the providers themselves, as well.
Thankfully, the rewards of the work, like seeing people heal from their deepest wounds, outweigh the challenges. Watching patients escape the mental prison of their past traumas, depression, or other mental blockages is powerful and fulfilling.
Throughout her career, Samantha has learned that true belonging and connection with self and others begins with alignment with one’s emotions. Our emotions can guide us if we can approach them with curiosity and full acceptance. They integrate our life experiences to help navigate our paths. Moving forward, Samantha hopes to collaborate with other therapists and wellness practitioners from different backgrounds to create programs that help women in their healing journeys.
Samantha Lau, MSN, FNP-BC, PMHNP-BC, is a paid consultant of AbbVie Inc. and was compensated for her time spent in the development of this profile. The opinions expressed above are those of the NP contributor and are not necessarily recommended or endorsed by AbbVie Inc.
AbbVie Medical Affairs
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