Please tell us about your current professional position, its responsibilities, and your accomplishments, as an individual and team.
Currently, I work as a family nurse practitioner for a St. Louis-based nonprofit, iFM Community Medicine. This amazing organization, under the passionate leadership of Dr. David Campbell, has been serving the St. Louis community for 20 years. Through our multiple on-site clinics within schools, shelters and other social service organizations, we are able to bring medical services to underserved populations throughout St. Louis. These medical services include treatment of chronic illnesses, acute care and school/sports physicals as needed.
With consistent and meaningful interactions, we are able to provide convenient, cost-effective and culturally sensitive healthcare to all of our patients. iFM strives daily to improve access to quality healthcare by overcoming barriers such as cost, transportation and trust. Our goal is to meet people where they live, learn and work to decrease some of the health disparities that unfortunately plague the African-American community today.
During my time at iFM Community Medicine, I have had the opportunity to partner with Mid-America Transplant Foundation and work under a grant titled Kidney TLC or Test Learn Change. Within this grant, my team and I, which includes a true advocate in nurse Maggie Graf, have worked to screen hundreds of at-risk youth for early diagnosis of risk factors for chronic renal disease. This program includes screening, an educational component, treatment implementation and on-going communication with identified individuals to improve the likelihood of adherence to recommended care.
For those youth with identified risk factors such as hypertension and obesity, we have been able to follow their care and – with continued education, life skills classes and regular follow up – we have seen great reductions in blood pressure and BMI from their initial contact with us. The change we have seen in these at-risk youth and young adults offers hope.
Kidney disease is plaguing our communities as there is a dialysis center on every other corner it seems. If we can identify risk factors and educate these youth on the importance of overall healthcare, we can potentially change the trajectory of their lives now and decrease their chances of chronic comorbid conditions in the future.
Why you get up and go to work every day? What motivates you?
I get up and go to work every day because I know the St. Louis community deserves access to good, comprehensive healthcare. It should not matter what zip code you live in; every soul deserves an opportunity to live life in abundance and that starts with owning your health.
Growing up in North County, I remember going to John C. Murphy clinic in Berkeley with my family for regular check-ups. Those visits taught me early on how important it is to care for my body, and I want to share that same sense of urgency with the youth in my community today.
I’ve had the privilege and honor of working and volunteering in Haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. As a result of my years of experience serving in Haiti, I understand how not only having access to healthcare, but simply understanding what you can do as an individual to advocate for your health can really propel you to make healthier life decisions.
I have found that there are times when the community simply does not know where to go because they have never been exposed to some of the opportunities available to them. I am motivated to share those outlets with my patients so they can always be armed with the education and touch points to make sure their needs are always met.
Are their previous work experiences in health care we should know about?
Through Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, I previously provided primary care to patients at the We Care Clinic in East St. Louis. I have also taught at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in the School of Nursing. My responsibilities included preparing and delivering lectures for courses within the Family Health & Community Health Department, including Development of the Lifespan and Nursing Research, as well as supervising clinic work in Women and Infants.
I have also previously worked in the Emergency Department at Barnes-Jewish Hospital as well as DePaul Health Center as a trauma nurse. During that time, I learned the importance of collaboration with interdisciplinary teams and working in a unified way to ensure patient’s needs are addressed from multiple aspects of care. I have also had the privilege of working in Labor and Delivery at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in their Women and Infants division, where I worked alongside some of the most talented and compassionate OB/Gyns in the St. Louis area.
Is there anything about your education you would like to emphasize?
After obtaining degrees from Miami University in Zoology and Neuroscience and from Roosevelt University in Biotechnology and Chemical Science, I knew my future was in the medical field. I took the knowledge I gained from those degree programs along with a curiosity for pharmaceuticals and became a successful senior pharmaceutical sales representative for one of the top global pharma companies.
My career path changed after hurricane Katrina however. After the storm, I moved to New Orleans and for three years I saw a community struggle, clinics closed, hospitals being over-utilized and patients living without. I moved back to St. Louis and attended Saint Louis University School of Nursing, where I completed their Accelerated BSN program and began my career in nursing in 2011. Through my work in the hospital setting I felt compelled to further my education and complete my MSN at Maryville University.
Through my experiences, I have learned to follow a path that brings joy to your life and my education and career in nursing has brought me that joy.