Lexi Rouse, BSN, MSN, CNP, Provider profile

Nurse Practitioner Lexi Rouse spent four years working in the Neuro ICU, which makes her current work in the general neurology and stroke clinic all the more rewarding. She finds inspiration and encouragement from her colleagues. A former collegiate softball player, she spends her free time at her gym, surrounded by a like-minded community. An avid traveler, Lexi enjoys being exposed to and learning from different cultures around the world.

Tell us about your background and how your path led to Vanderbilt? 

I was born and raised in Macon, Georgia. I was a big softball player throughout my youth. I started college at University of Louisiana at Lafayette for two years to play softball. Ultimately I transferred to Belmont to play softball. When I transferred, I changed my major to nursing. I had danced around majors at Lafayette, but they didn’t let student athletes major in nursing. I always knew I wanted to be either a PA or NP, but eventually I felt like nursing was the best avenue to get there. I did three years of nursing school and softball at Belmont. 

After college, I started my first job four years ago in the Vanderbilt Neuro-ICU. I completed my Nurse Practitioner program while working in that job. That landed me here in the neurology department, focused on general neurology and stroke, about a year ago. 

What attracted you to the medical field and ultimately neurology?

My high school had an internship program where you shadowed people working in different careers. I interned with an anesthesiologist. No one in my family works in healthcare, so that was my first interaction with the medical field. The anesthesiologist also had me shadow some orthopedists and an ENT doctor. I became especially interested in the anatomy and physiology of those fields. 

I took my first Anatomy & Physiology course at Lafayette. I thought it was all so cool—bio chemistry and how the body functions. So that’s what initially brought me into medicine. During my senior year of college, we had acute care rounds. One practitioner I worked with was Lauren Kimbrell who was really passionate about critical care medicine and made it really fun. That was one reason I went into the Neuro ICU. I didn’t know where I wanted to land, but I knew some good opportunities would pop up through critical care. 

The brain is truly complex and we still don’t know a lot about it. I find that really cool. 

What are some of the biggest rewards about your job? What about challenges? 

I really like when patients get better. We don’t always see that, unfortunately. I see a lot of headache patients, and when those patients go from 20 or more migraine days a month back to where they can function and thrive is really fun to see. 

I love seeing stroke patients. While working in the ICU, I saw the acute side of strokes, so I didn’t always see deficits getting better. In acute care, you’ll see patients with really bad symptoms and you don’t see them once they go to rehab. Now I see these patients a few months out from their stroke, and they’ve gained a lot of movement back. It brings a lot more hope. 

I’m a new NP in a specialty that’s really challenging by nature, so really the learning curve of everything is the biggest challenge. I see a lot of people beginning with a first diagnosis and trying to figure out what’s going on. On the flip side, being surrounded by other NPs and APPs is super helpful and encouraging. My colleagues are really willing to jump in and help with guidance, which has been awesome. 

Who have been some important role models and/or mentors for you in your career?

Clinically, my colleagues are really inspiring to me. Lauren [Kimbrell] in the ICU and other NPs in different fields are really encouraging. They just do a top-notch job, and that keeps me going too. More personally, my parents are big inspirations. They are both really hard workers and have been their entire lives. I like to think that work ethic has rubbed off on me a little bit. 

How do you like to spend your free time? What are some of your favorite spots in Nashville?

Every day I try to get outside as much as possible. I love playing volleyball and being active. I’m mostly frequenting my gym—Fit Factory. That's a big source of community for me and has been since I graduated from Belmont. During college I was on a team, so it was important for me to be around people with that kind of team, active, and competitive mindset. 

I love the Nashville food scene. I’m partial to a lot of spots in The Nations, especially Midnight Oil. 

I love to travel. I’m always trying to plan a trip. Before I started this job I did a six-week backpacking trip in Europe. I am planning to go to Croatia this fall. I love to explore and see how people live outside the U.S., and see the awesome land, mountains, and beaches. 

What are you reading/watching/listening to?

I’m in a book club, so that’s been helpful to me. I loved reading as a kid but kind of lost the habit in high school and in college, so that’s been good.

Right now I’m watching Jack Ryan and The Summer I Turned Pretty. We love going to the movies and just got a Movie Pass. 

What's one experience that changed your perspective about something?

I like looking back on some of my travels. Those have really changed my thoughts about life in general. In 2018 I got to work at a vineyard in Italy. I did that for three weeks right after college. It was my first time traveling alone abroad. I loved just seeing how other people live, and how people live at a slower pace and use everything they have. It’s something I try to aim for in my day to day. I find myself running around all the time, so I try to catch myself, slow down, and not be so productivity-minded.