Registered Nurse (RN) Comanche County Health Department
9 years of service
Got any favorite quotes?
“When you can’t find the sunshine, be the sunshine.” - author unknown
Who inspires you?
I am inspired every day by my coworkers. I am very blessed to work with such an amazing group of individuals who are truly my work family.
If someone was interested in a public health career, what advice or encouragement would you give them?
I would encourage a career in public health. For me, it has been a rewarding career decision. Every day is interesting and there is always something new to learn. You have the opportunity to provide education and preventive health services to all members of the community from infants to the elderly.
What is the most rewarding experience you have had in public health?
One of my most rewarding experiences in public health involves one of my first TB cases. I visited this gentleman while he was still in the hospital. He was extremely weak, had been sick for a long time and had lost a significant amount of weight. Just standing next to his bed was difficult for him. He was scared he may have cancer. Fortunately, he did not have cancer, but he did have active TB. It was wonderful to watch how much his health improved from when he started taking his TB medication through when he completed therapy. On one of my last visits with him, he was strong enough to be outside mowing his grass and taking care of his chickens which, he enjoyed. He was so very grateful for the TB medication provided and the care provided to his family by providing testing and preventive treatment for them. It is very rewarding to see how see how much the services provided through the health department are appreciated and how they make such a big impact on individuals.
How did you start working in public health?
During nursing school, I did my public health clinical rotation at Jackson County Health Department. The staff was friendly, and I enjoyed seeing the variety of services which were provided to the public. A year later, I applied for an opening at the Comanche County Health Department. I met with one of the nurses, Kathy Sanford, who still works there today. She shared about her experience working in public health and after that conversation and being inspired by my previous clinic rotation, I knew public health was where I wanted to be.
Can you share a few highlights of your experience in public health in Oklahoma?
As a public health nurse, I enjoy going into the community to provide public health services. I recently was involved in Comanche County’s Annual Community Baby Shower. We were able to provide 67 flu shots to children and adults at the event. Also, during my time working in public health, I have had the opportunity of working with many tuberculosis (TB) clients and their families. Assisting clients with taking their TB medications and working with their family and other contacts to ensure they get the testing and evaluation they are needing. It is very rewarding watching clients who were very sick at the beginning of therapy and seeing how well they are doing at the completion of therapy. It is a good feeling to know I was able to be a part of that process.
In your role, how do you educate people about public health?
My primary role in public health is being a clinic nurse. As a clinic nurse I provide education daily to individuals and families for the service they are requesting. I provide education on sexual health, birth control options and when to obtain preventive health services such as pap smears. I educate pregnant mothers about breastfeeding, TDaP and flu vaccines, and resources such a WIC and Children’s First Program. I provide education to individuals about what a positive TB test means and resources available such as taking preventive therapy. Speaking with the parents regarding immunizations and the importance of keeping children up to date. There are a variety of clinic services available, which allows multiple opportunities for providing public health education.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is helping people make a lifestyle change. I think most people want to make healthy choices, but change can be difficult. In my role, I try to help by providing resources and education to assist individuals with making healthy choices. Some examples are providing a referral to 1-800-Quit-Now to individuals who want to quit smoking. Providing information to low-cost clinics to obtain medical care or needed medications. Providing information on PrEP and condoms to individuals wanting to improve their sexual health. I think by providing education and resources to our clients it can be one of the first steps towards making positive lifestyle changes.