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APP Week Spotlight: Inspiring Stories from 4 Advanced Practice Providers on the GHR Team

September 29, 2023

In recognition of Advanced Practice Providers Week, we’re excited to shine a spotlight on some of the exceptional individuals who play a pivotal role in the healthcare industry.

We’ve had the privilege of conducting interviews with April a Nurse Practitioner (CRNP-C), Beck, a Physician Assistant (PA), Robin, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), and Cassandra, a Physician Assistant (PA). Together, they represent a spectrum of talent and expertise that enriches our healthcare landscape.

April B., Nurse Practitioner (CRNP-C)

Beck P., Physician Assistant (PA)

Robin B., Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), MSN

Cassandra M., Physician Assistant (PA)

Thank you, Robin, Rebecca, April, and Cassandra for sharing some of your stories and for everything you and your fellow Advanced Practice Providers do for patients and the healthcare industry— Happy APP Week!

Discover APP Opportunities with GHR

Q: There are many different paths people take to become an Advanced Practice Provider. Can you tell us about your journey, how you discovered your desire to become an NP, and how you found your specialization?

A: In 2002, I became a nurse, in 2020, an NP, and in 2023, I started with GHR. I have always had a heart for people. Initially, I wanted to be an obstetrician. But what I found was medical school was expensive and I wasn’t quite financially prepared for it.

As a cellular biology major, I passed out in the cafeteria one day and EMS was called. I refused to go to the hospital and just went back to my dorm but it made me think. I could work as an EMT through school and that was my entry into medicine.

After working 6 years as an emergency medical technician, I decided I needed to have a terminal degree in whatever I decided to do. So I made the decision to become a paramedic. However, I hated inserting needs in a moving vehicle and needed a more stable environment. Thus It only made sense to go to nursing school. Plus I was tired of being in the elements.

During my undergraduate years as a cellular biology major, I had a significant moment. I fainted in the cafeteria one day, and EMS was called. Though I refused hospitalization and returned to my dorm, it triggered a realization. To support myself through school, I became an EMT, my entry into medicine.

I worked my way through a diploma program and got a job at Temple University Hospital and let Temple pay for my BSN. With a terminal degree in mind, my best friend and I decided to go back to school and complete our master’s level work as family nurse practitioners. One of my mentors at the time gave me the best advice ever and that was to complete my master’s degree in a clinical field, that way I would always have to option of clinician or administration or both. Obtaining my Family nurse practitioner certification also led to the versatility that my heart desired as well. Needless to say, I am so grateful that I did. I now have options and DNP is the next move.

Q: Can you share an instance when you felt particularly proud of the impact you’ve made as an NP, and how that experience reinforced your dedication to your profession?

A: I love what I do. My main job as a CRNP-C is working with the underserved population in the area of health equity and access to care.

We provide mobile services to local churches and community organizations.

One of my favorite places to go is in Kensington. Kensington has made national news for not-so-good reasons. It is here that we serve a group of post-incarcerated, drug-addicted persons in recovery.

Their needs are great. Every social determinant of health needs is challenged by this group. Yet they are the most genuine and grateful group of people you will ever meet. It is here that I found my love and reignites why I do what I do. I know that if I change one life with an encounter, then my life is not in vain and I have served my life’s purpose. It is more of a ministry than work and I LOVE it!!

Q: In the demanding field of healthcare, especially as an Advanced Practice Provider, how do you prioritize self-care and ensure that your own “cup” remains full to continue providing excellent care to your patients?

A: My life is a life of service and my faith keeps me steady. I know I would not be the person I am without my faith in God. God has been faithful to His word and His promises.

But if you ask my boys I am always asleep. Haha. Yes, I go to bed at 7 pm if the night allows and will sleep until morning (4 am when I head to the gym). At this age,

I know I must be good to my body and work out regularly, eat well (more fruits and vegetables with lean proteins), and sleep. I listen to music as it calms me mentally.

I also have a wonderful group of friends who know when it’s time to go hang out. They listen without judgment but also keep me balanced. Therapy has also been a wonderful tool post-pandemic. Life has hit and has hit hard for most of us and we haven’t had time to process all that has occurred in the last 3 years. Life looks very different and therapy has kept me emotionally stable.

Q: As we celebrate APP Week, we’d love to know something fun about you outside of your professional life. Can you share a hobby or interest that brings joy to your days when you’re not providing patient care?

A: I presently serve as the First Vice President of the Pennsylvania State Coalition of the National Council of Negro Women.

Health Executive team at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church where we often serve the community through large health screening opportunities free of charge.

My favorite place to volunteer is New Day which is run by the Salvation Army. It is a respite center for sex traffic workers in Kensington.

I have two male children. One is a soccer player who recently returned from Germany after trying out for various teams. The other is an artist. I’m excited to see what God has in store for them both.

I am a global ambassador for Lott Carey and serve on the health ministry there.

Lastly, I loved to fish with my dad. He passed in February 2023 but that was my favorite pastime.

My all-around favorite place is the beach. Any beach.

Q: There are many different paths people take to become an Advanced Practice Provider. Can you tell us about your journey, how you discovered your desire to become a PA, and how you found your specialization?

A: I became a PA in 1991 and started with GHR in 2021. I was born knowing I would work in medicine. My dad, grandpa, and great-grandpa were all doctors, so you could say it was in my blood. When I was young, I used to do “ride-a-longs” with my grandpa, who was a country doctor in Poseyville, Indiana– a town with a population of around 500! It was a place where he sometimes got paid with chickens and corn! My dad first introduced me to the PA profession when I was a child, as he worked with PAs and was very impressed by their role. He introduced me to several PAs as I was growing up, and my path toward becoming a PA became clear.

Q: Can you share an instance when you felt particularly proud of the impact you’ve made as a PA, and how that experience reinforced your dedication to your profession?

A: Prior to my current role, I worked in surgical fields (cardiothoracic, neurosurgery, and general surgery) as I enjoyed working with my hands too, and liked the immediate sense of fixing things. I also worked in trauma which was always an interesting challenge, and I loved the amazing teamwork.

With my current work (thanks to GHR) I am actually in the role that I am most proud of. My dad, grandpa, and great-grandpa would be thrilled to see me helping hospital acuity patients in their homes, basically doing what country doctors did for decades, only now with the aid of technology. It is my most rewarding role, bringing home patients who would otherwise be stuck in brick-and-mortar healthcare facilities, and setting them up in their homes with technology-enabled services to shift advanced medical care from hospitals to patients’ homes safely and comfortably.

Patients are so grateful to be able to have serious and complex hospital-acuity illnesses treated in the comfort of their own homes, with their families, pets, food, and familiar surroundings. There’s less fall risk and confusion with elderly patients when they are in familiar surroundings, and many patients experience lower stress and faster healing while at home. The docs and nurses work with the patients virtually (with Medically Home’s technology platform) 24/7, but as an APP, I have the honor and privilege of getting to deliver care in the patient’s home, which is so rewarding.

Q: In the demanding field of healthcare, especially as an Advanced Practice Provider, how do you prioritize self-care and ensure that your own “cup” remains full to continue providing excellent care to your patients?

A: Haha, well, I’m not so great at this part. I am definitely one of those people who usually carries my work phone with me even in my time off. I just always want to know what’s going on with the patients and my beloved and awesome team. I’m very lucky to be in a role that is so fulfilling (thank you GHR!), so it doesn’t feel like work.

But in my off hours, I love recharging with my family and friends. I love traveling. Last winter my hubby and I finally did my dream trip to East Africa, and that was absolutely magical.

I also have a 300-gallon saltwater aquarium (that doubles as our dining table), and I love to just lie on the floor and watch the beautiful fish!

Q: There are many different paths people take to become an Advanced Practice Provider. Can you tell us about your journey, how you discovered your desire to become a CRNA, and how you found your specialization?

A: I became a nurse in 1988 through a hospital diploma program. While raising my kids, I pursued my BSN part-time. In 2003, I became a master’s prepared CRNA. My journey with GHR started this year.

My transition to becoming a CRNA came after many years specializing in critical care, particularly in cardiac surgery. I wanted an even greater challenge, and when I learned about the CRNA career path, I knew it would provide just that.

As for specialization, I’ve experienced different areas throughout my career. Initially, I focused on cardiac surgery, then pediatrics, and now I have a deep passion for obstetrics.

Q: Can you share an instance when you felt particularly proud of the impact you’ve made as a CRNA, and how that experience reinforced your dedication to your profession?

A: While I can’t pinpoint a single instance, some of the most fulfilling moments in my career go beyond delivering anesthesia. Often, it’s about easing patients’ anxiety and answering their questions in the preoperative area, seeing the relief on their faces.

On a lighter note, helping women in labor manage their pain never ceases to be gratifying.

I’ve also been part of conversations where a family makes the tough decision that their critically ill loved one shouldn’t undergo surgery. Being part of those discussions is incredibly humbling.

Q: In the demanding field of healthcare, especially as an Advanced Practice Provider, how do you prioritize self-care and ensure that your own “cup” remains full to continue providing excellent care to your patients?

A: My plate is very full! Besides work, I babysit my 4-month-old granddaughter once a week and help care for my 88-year-old mom. (Sandwich generation poster child!) I’m an avid yoga practitioner (over 20 years) and I meditate regularly, even short bits help. Also, I’m a runner— sweat is a huge stress reliever! Learning to say “no”, to take time for myself, basically be true to myself, pay attention to my own energy, and protect it from anything that drains it (people, places, situations, etc.).

Q: As we celebrate APP Week, we’d love to know something fun about you outside of your professional life. Can you share a hobby or interest that brings joy to your days when you’re not providing patient care?

A: Outside of my professional life, I have several interests and hobbies that bring joy to my days. I’m an avid gardener, although my archenemies are the deer and rabbits that seem to have a taste for my flowers and veggies! I’m also a dedicated yoga practitioner and instructor with over 20 years of experience.

Running is another passion of mine, and I’ve successfully completed five marathons and a couple of dozen half-marathons. I’m eagerly looking forward to completing my first Olympic distance triathlon in the summer of 2024.

On a personal note, I have two daughters, both of whom are nurses, with one currently pursuing her CRNA certification. Our family also includes a beloved yellow lab named Harry. Additionally, I’m currently enrolled in a DNAP (doctorate in nurse anesthesiology) program, which I anticipate completing in 2024, with the goal of eventually teaching in a nurse anesthesiology program.

Q: There are many different paths people take to become an Advanced Practice Provider. Can you tell us about your journey, how you discovered your desire to become a PA, and how you found your specialization?

A: I became a PA in 2018. I started with GHR last year in 2022. I discovered I wanted to be PA while I was working at a teaching hospital in Tucson, AZ. I was a clerical employee but was able to observe the dynamic team and found the function of the PAs to be vast and imperative and that became my path. What I love the most about being a PA is the flexibility within your license. I have worked in primary care, internal medicine, women’s health, and as a surgical PA. I love what I do.

Q: Can you share an instance when you felt particularly proud of the impact you’ve made as a PA, and how that experience reinforced your dedication to your profession?

A: When you build trust with your work team you build a mutually reliant team, and you feel proud of what you do every day. I bring confidence, knowledge, finesse, and grit and my team knows this about me. I advocate for our patients and my opinion is trusted. I have revived patients who have overdosed on narcotics, I have intervened during a cardiac emergency and made tough calls to save a patient’s life, I have sat and held hands and cried with a patient’s wife after her husband passed, I am proud of what I do every day.

Q: In the demanding field of healthcare, especially as an Advanced Practice Provider, how do you prioritize self-care and ensure that your own “cup” remains full to continue providing excellent care to your patients?

A: In order to wake up every day and be able to do what we do self-care is so important. I also have 2 small kids at home. My family and I stay very active and plugged into our community. This keeps us grounded and present. I teach my children the importance of mindfulness and boundary-setting in order to keep their peace protected. They know when I am home and the “gloves” and scrubs come off I am now just mommy, and they have my full attention. It’s very important to have those boundaries.


Some Definitions:

Nurse Practitioner (NP):

A Nurse Practitioner (NP) is an advanced practice registered nurse who has obtained specialized education and training. NPs can diagnose and treat medical conditions, prescribe medications, and provide a wide range of healthcare services, often working independently or alongside physicians. They play a crucial role in patient care and are recognized for their expertise in various healthcare settings.

Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP-C):

A Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP-C) is a healthcare professional who has achieved certification in advanced nursing practice. CRNP-Cs have completed specialized education and examinations in their chosen nursing specialty. They are authorized to provide a wide range of healthcare services, including conducting assessments, making diagnoses, formulating treatment plans, and prescribing medications. These skilled professionals play a vital role in the healthcare team, collaborating with physicians and other healthcare providers to deliver comprehensive patient care.

Physician Assistant (PA):

A Physician Assistant (PA) is a healthcare professional who works under the supervision of a licensed physician. PAs are trained to perform various medical tasks, such as conducting physical examinations, diagnosing and treating illnesses, and prescribing medications. They play an essential role in the healthcare team, providing support to physicians and contributing to patient care.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA):

A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) is a specialized advanced practice nurse who is trained to administer anesthesia to patients undergoing surgical or medical procedures. CRNAs are highly skilled in anesthesia care, including the administration of anesthesia drugs, monitoring patients during surgery, and ensuring their safety and comfort. They work in collaboration with surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare providers to deliver anesthesia services.

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