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Featured NP: Sara Buster

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 2, 2017


In May, Sara Buster earned her Doctorate of Nursing Practice - Family Nurse Practitioner Degree from Oklahoma City University’s Kramer School of Nursing. She also received the Heart of Nursing Award, which recognizes a student in each class who demonstrates caring and compassion, patient advocacy and enthusiasm.

Sara grew up in Watson in rural McCurtain County, and graduated from nearby Smithville High School. AONP caught up to Sara to learn what drew her to nursing and to learn about the future of the profession.


Why did you decide to go into nursing?

I’ve always wanted to be a RN since the time I was very young. I have always enjoyed helping people. I also love how nursing mixes helping people with science.


Why did you decide to go beyond being an RN to become a nurse practitioner?

When I was growing up, I was sick a lot so I was constantly at the “doctor’s office.” It was always a nurse practitioner and the nurses that took care of my family and me. When I became a RN, I became interested in what caused illnesses and how to stop them or slow the progression. I feel that nurse practitioners play an important role in primary care, health promotion, and disease prevention.


Are there any nurses or teachers along the way who you consider to be role models?

All of the teachers I had at Kramer School of Nursing were fantastic, and I consider them all to be role models. Dr. Crawford who is the director of the DNP program was a great role model for me and helped me a lot both academically and as a mentor.


What do you find most rewarding about the work?

I love how nurse practitioners can develop lifelong relationships with their patients and patients’ families. It is truly rewarding to care for patients of all ages throughout their lives.


Now that you’ve graduated, what are your career goals? What kind of setting would you like to work in?

My career goals involve working in a primary care clinic in a rural setting. I think nurse practitioners play an important role in serving this underserved population.


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Featured NP: Ferdie Dijoto

Posted By Administration, Monday, September 19, 2016

The important role Nurse Practitioners (NPs) play only grows as the rights of NPs change. NPs are leaving a global impact by treating patients in other countries who wouldn’t normally have access to the kind of comprehensive healthcare an NP can provide. Ferdie Dijoto understands the need for better access to medical care first-hand, and if she gets her way, NPs will play an even bigger role in providing that care.


1. We know you're originally from Africa. When did you move to the United States and why?

I am originally from Cameroon (West-central Africa) and my prior education was in French. I moved to the United States of America 15 years ago for a better future and standard of living for my family and me.


2. Tell us what it was like growing up with a father who is a Physician Assistant.

Growing up with a father who played a huge role in helping people with their healthcare issues was extremely inspiring. My grandmother also inspired me. She was a dedicated midwife. Most evenings and weekends, many of our neighbors waited on my father in my childhood home for assistance with their acute and chronic health issues. He joyfully helped everyone (mostly for free). His work ethic and his love for the work he did were contagious and selfless. Growing up with him, I always prayed to have the same energy, drive and dedication to help people in need.


3. What made you decide to pursue a career as an NP?

When I graduated from high school in Cameroon, there was only one medical school. Due to this limitation, it was a widely known fact that the admission process for the only medical school was corrupted and reserved only for famous and wealthy families. I applied twice but was unsuccessful despite being a qualified candidate. I was extremely disappointed. Following the advice of my college counselor, I majored in biochemistry with the hope to work in medical research upon graduation. During my second year in college, I also volunteered with non-profit organizations for the fight against Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS). I spent most weekends traveling to many villages educating the population about HIV/AIDS as well as other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). When I moved to the USA, I worked as a research assistant. However, there was no fulfillment. I always felt like something was missing. After taking a few pre-requisites, I was admitted at Georgetown University where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. I worked as a critical care nurse, clinical informaticist and a performance improvement/quality nurse. However, the following motivated me to want to become an NP: - I am always eager to learn more because, in nursing, opportunities for personal and professional betterment are endless. - The U.S. population is aging, living longer and in need of more primary care services and providers. - I also want to become a change agent to help reform the healthcare system and bridge the healthcare gap in Cameroon.


4. What is your favorite part about being an NP?

There are several reasons I like being an NP. My favorite part is building long-lasting relationships with my patients. Also, I like the emphasis on healthcare prevention including holistic health education. When a person is treated as a whole, it leads to increased compliance and better outcomes.


5. What do you hope to do or see within your profession in the next 10 years?

NPs are compassionate, caring, skilled and capable of diagnosing and treating many acute and chronic conditions. I am hoping that NPs in the State of Oklahoma (just like 21 other states in our country) will have gained full prescriptive authority within the full scope of their practice. NPs are well educated, trained and ready to work independently from physicians. My personal goal is to graduate in two years with a Clinical Doctorate of Nursing from Oklahoma City University, work to gain more experience, be a part of health care policymakers and open my own clinic.


6. Tell us about the most rewarding experience you've had in your practice.

It is always a blessing to see patients recover from an illness or healthcare crisis, or seeing patients motivated to adopt healthy choices in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.


7. What would you like to say to someone considering a career as an NP?

Go for it. The sooner, the better. There are many ways to impact the patients that entrust their healthcare needs to us. This also impacts the community in which we live in. In light of the global impact NPs can make, it’s more important than ever that our legislators give NPs the right to practice without the oversight of a physician. Change agents like Ferdie are the catalysts we need to advance the field and allow us to make a difference not only abroad, but also in our own backyard.

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Featured NP: Ellen Huffmaster

Posted By Administrator, Monday, August 22, 2016

When you combine rural Oklahoma and a specialty such as mental health, you find there aren’t a lot of options available. Ellen Huffmaster wants to change that. As a family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, Ellen believes NPs can play a significant role in providing services to those living in rural areas that they might not otherwise have access, and she is especially passionate about the role NPs can play in the mental health community. We recently spoke with Ellen about why she became an NP and how she hopes to see the NP’s role grow in Oklahoma.

1. Why did you decide to pursue a career as an NP? 

I decided to become an NP after being a RN for more than 17 years. I saw a huge gap in psychiatric services being delivered to individuals in my community. Enid is not a small town, but it did not have adequate psychiatric services. There were plenty of counselors, but medication management was a huge gap. Local family doctors, NPs or physician assistants were left to manage psychiatric medications or individuals had to drive to Tulsa or Oklahoma City to see a psychiatrist or PMHNP. This left many adults and children with inadequate services for managing their psychiatric medications. This was my primary passion for deciding to return to school.  

2. How did you decide to specialize as a family mental health psychiatric NP? 

I knew that this was the one area of specialties that was lacking professionals. At the time I started school, I believe there were only about 12 NPs with psychiatric specialty training. 

3. How would you like to see your profession change over the next 10 years? 

I would love to see more NPs specializing in psychiatry. I believe that independent practice is essential for the role of NPs to be fully utilized in Oklahoma. Many states have already adapted to full practice authority. Oklahoma needs to work quickly on this. Independent practice would have allowed me to open a practice in Enid, Oklahoma.  Right now there is not a full time psychiatrist in Enid, which has kept me from expanding available services. The limited number of psychiatrists in our region limits expanding services under the current rules and regulations for NPs.

4. Tell us about the most rewarding experiences you’ve had in your practice. 

The most rewarding thing in practicing psychiatry is seeing an individual change emotionally and physically. I have had patients thank me for adjusting their medications to the point of being able to function better in society. Mental health treatment changes individuals. It can open the door for people who feared being around others to becoming a professional with a full time job. My patients make my job worth all of the stress on a regular basis. I love my job. 

5. You have a passion for the role NPs play in mental health and other specialties. Tell us about that.

The ability of NPs to specialize allows us to provide quality care in many areas of practice that are currently underserved. The specialty programs in NP training allow NPs to focus on certain areas of practice. This increases the number of specialists that are available in communities both urban and rural. Specialties are always needed especially in rural areas. I envision NPs providing more specialty services in the underserved areas in the future. This will increase access to care for patients, which is vital to keeping Oklahoma healthy. 

6. What would you like to say to someone considering a career as an NP?

Go for it. Be dedicated and determined to providing quality care to your patients. Know that it will take a lot of work, time and dedication to complete, but it is worth it. Being an NP has been a great privilege for me. My family has had to make a lot of sacrifices, but overall the job satisfaction is worth all of the struggles.  

Ellen has made it clear that rural health care is in crisis. There are not enough options for specialized health care, especially when it comes to mental health, in small towns and farming communities across our state. Patients have to drive too far to get their hands on the treatments and medications they need to live full and meaningful lives. Oklahoma’s shortage of rural specialty health care providers will only continue to limit access as populations grow. It’s essential NPs be granted the opportunity to build independent practices in their communities.

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Featured NP: Damarcus Nelson

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Featured NP - Damarcus Nelson 

Damarcus Nelson has been selected  to receive the AANP Advocate State Award for Excellence. This prestigious award is given annually to a dedicated NP advocate in each state who has promoted the NP role and patient access to care. 

"This recognition from American Association of Nurse Practitioners is not only an honor but, a privilege to be mentioned in the same breath with providers that have pushed our profession forward. The award will be given at the upcoming AANP national conference in San Antonio, TX June 24, 2015. I'm very excited to represent Oklahoma health care and my fellow NPs in our fight for full practice authority in the state. This award has made my fire for pushing our profession even stronger and will continue to make me a better provider in years to come. Thank you to those who have supported me along the way and continue to help Oklahoma NPs be elite healthcare providers." - Damarcus Nelson

Damarcus Nelson has been practicing in Oklahoma since 2012 with Family Healthcare and Minor Emergency. "We service a large area of patients from Piedmont to Oklahoma City.  Currently we have three clinics to service the surrounding patient population.  Our practice is NP owned and operated. We see a large amount of Soonercare, commercial, and DDSD patients. Currently I act as a lead provider and many patients call me their PCP (primary care provider). I wake up everyday loving what I do and treating every patient like they are family. I welcome what the future has in store for NPs throughout the state of Oklahoma." 

We congratulate Damarcus Nelson and share in the excitement for what the future has in store for NPs throughout the state of Oklahoma!

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