Carol Warfield - In the News
Sunday, May 7, 2017
What I do today and why I do it, is tied to experiences 37 years in the past. As an RN in the local ER, I quickly recognized the dire need for primary care providers in the Effingham community. People came to the ER to seek care they should have been getting in a primary care office. Some patients had insurance, but no regular primary care provider. Others had neither insurance nor cash. These people depended on charity care, which was and is part of the Effingham hospital’s Mission.
The result was fast-paced, expensive, episodic care, with total lack of continuity. There was no place for wellness in this picture, and only a bit of time to teach patients preventive tactics to take better care of themselves.
When I was working in that ER, there were few advanced practice nurse role models here. Only one Pediatric Nurse Practitioner was employed, and she was associated with Effingham’s sole pediatrician. There was a new graduate Family Nurse Practitioner working in Altamont. Educational preparation was also challenging. The closest program was at the University of Illinois at the Peoria campus. I was unsure if anyone would hire me when I graduated, but I took the plunge. Hours of driving back and forth to Peoria followed, as this was before on-line classes.
I finished the program and passed the certification exam. A local physician took a chance and hired me assist with his busy practice. Most of the patients in the early days had no idea what a nurse practitioner was. Nevertheless, they were happy to come to an appointment with someone who would listen to them.
I have been working in this area since that time. The first 23 years I spent in private clinics. After that I was a primary care provider at the local VA clinic for the 9 years. Now I am mostly retired, but fill in very part time in Dr. Sean Flynn’s practice. Prior to becoming an APN, I worked in a variety of hospital positions, from staff nurse to administration, as well as nursing education. The family nurse practitioner has definitely been the most satisfying of these experiences.
At first Illinois did not require a license for Nurse Practitioners. As part of my activity in Illinois’ professional nursing organization, I helped write minimum education and certification standards. These went on to serve as the groundwork for NP licensure. Over time, the role of the NP became better known and widely accepted, and the need for them increased. I am proud that I have been able to mentor/precept over 50 nurse practitioner students during my years of practice.
The need for primary care providers continues, and very few patients come in today unaware of the role of the NP. As health care evolves, NPs have moved into almost all specialties in outpatient medicine, as well as in hospitals. Today, we now have nearly 50 Nurse Practitioners functioning in this area. I am honored to be part of that evolution.