District Nurse Manager (RN)
Beaver, Cimarron, Ellis, Dewey, Harper, Texas, & Woodward Counties
17 years of service
Got any favorite quotes?
I don’t have a favorite quote as much as a personal philosophy:
Go to work with a good attitude, enjoy the people you work with, give your best effort and at the end of the day go home with a good attitude.
Who inspires you?
Multiple people: my husband, father-in-law and brother-in-law who live a faith-filled life, love what they do and find pleasure in the world around them. My coworkers who come to work and enjoy being a part of the same team, we work for the same goals and are willing to help each other succeed.
If someone was interested in a public health career, what advice or encouragement would you give them?
I would encourage them to learn as much possible about public health and pursue this career. Public health offers many diverse career paths for the individual to choose and can be very rewarding.
How did you start working in public health?
Prior to working for the health department, I had a job in my local community in Harper County as a parish nurse. At the time, Harper County did not have a health department. Due to some of the needs within the community, I reached out to the administrative director in hopes of developing a partnership to offer services in Harper County. I believe this partnership raised awareness to what a health department could offer. Additionally, there was a small group of people in the community asking what it would take to establish a local health department. I was asked to be a part of this group, which quickly developed into a local coalition to pursue this possibility.
Through community meetings, education and a vote of the citizens, the Harper County Health Department opened July 15, 2002. I was the first public health nurse hired, and on my first day we actually moved the furniture into our office. All of the employees were new to public health; we were all so excited to make a difference and provide services to our community.
Can you share a few highlights of your experience in public health in Oklahoma? What is the most rewarding part of your work?
The people - whether it is a client in the clinic, a group at a community meeting or a member of our team. I enjoy the opportunity to provide information, education and offer support when the opportunity arises.
As a public health nurse in clinic, one of my favorite memories was during a WIC visit. The client had previous pregnancies but did not have experience breastfeeding. I provided information concerning the benefits of breastfeeding and was honest about the challenges. We discussed the client’s strengths and that breastfeeding this time could be different from past experiences. After she delivered, the client told my coworker that the information and encouragement I had provided had been helpful in her decision to breastfeed.
As a district nurse manager, working with my coworkers/team following the 2012 Woodward tornado. Staff from Woodward County Health Department and our region set up tetanus immunization sites in the neighborhoods, and had strike teams walking in the areas where there was the greatest destruction to provide immunizations to people who were overwhelmed by the loss of their homes. Staff carried business cards with the clinic address and phone number to give to families we encountered who would also need other services, such as WIC.
Our team has interceded on a client’s behalf to ensure they are getting the medical care they need, whether it is for dysplasia follow up, infants and children who need medical attention or referrals for early intervention. Our team does a great job providing services for our clients, even when faced with the challenges of being understaff or having limited local resources to refer clients.
In your role, how do you educate people about public health?
When the opportunity presents itself, I discuss the purpose of the local health department, whether to a friend, community member or in a group situation. I want citizens to know what we do and why. I share the vision and mission statements of our agency and how we carry it out in our local counties.
I have had the opportunity recently to speak to a local community service organization. They requested information about measles, but I always give a brief overview of our services. I am proud of everything we do and want to be sure the community is aware of our services.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
As a manager, I find creating balance is the most difficult issue. We need to meet the needs of the client, the requirements of the program and the needs of our staff/team. If staff have what they need, it is much easier to meet the client and program needs. This can be a daily challenge, but it is one our staff tries to meet.
What is the most rewarding experience you have had in public health?
I do not have one experience that stands out more than others. As a district nurse manager, I find pleasure in the success of the team. Recently, one of our team members conducted a disease investigation for a communicable disease. During the interview, the nurse provided education and information to this client. A few days later, the client called the clinic to share what a great job this nurse did and how kind she had been. He wanted to say “thank you” because he suspected we weren’t told this often when we did this type of investigation.