“ (It’s) like being on a mission in your own back yard,” said Nurse Practitioner Susan Mix. “You don’t have go abroad.”
Mix was referring to her position with the Community Health Center in White City where she is employed as a member of the National Health Service Corps (NHSC). The Corps is a program that makes it possible for selected students to get student loans paid back while also earning an income.
Mix has been at the White City facility for almost four years, with tuition reimbursement for two of those years. She is hoping her current contract for tuition reimbursement will be renewed for another year. But even without the Corps program, Mix intends to continue working at the clinic.
There are 1,300 or so nurse practitioners in the Corps, but it is doubtful many have Mix’s background. At the age of 53, she is not only a mother of four, she has three grandchildren. She received her masters degree from Graceland University in Independence, Mo. Going to school was a part time, or less, job while her children were growing up. That meant it took her 11 or 12 years to get her degree.
Over the years Mix worked at the Medford Clinic and did home health care. She is most interested in pediatrics, issues pertaining to thyroid and working on helping patients with weight loss.
White City Community Health is one of the sites served by NHSC because of its location, the economy and because of the number of uninsured in the area. NHSC is part of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
“HRSA is amazing,” said Mix. She said they put on a required motivational seminar in Tampa, Fla. about a year ago that stressed how to deal with communication and stress. “We have a unique situation at the clinic. We see more than our share of uninsured,” said Mix. “You have to be motivated. I came back feeling like I can do this and that it had given me so many tools.”
“Examples of those we help include one recent patient who was in tears when she found out the clinic could help her. Others are faced with power being turned off, rent not paid. We have Goodwill vouchers, some free medicine samples, and a counselor who works with patients at no charge. People in this clinic are in it for the right reason. It is a very satisfying job.” Mix said she sees about 22 patients during an average day.
She recently had another experience that made her appreciate where she was and what she does. In February, she made a medical mission to Africa. “I saw people poor beyond description. No shoes, no teeth, yet these people were happy.” Mix said she was giving a talk with the aid of a translator when she used the word depression. The translator couldn’t interpret that word. As Mix
tried to explain the word, the interpreter asked why Americans who had everything “ why you be sad?”
Mix is obviously dedicated and concerned about her colleagues and the need for all of them to stay with their job. She just finished an employment retention program she plans to present to the National Corp. It is all about how to stay at a community health center. “Living Legacy, How to Love Life in the National Health Services Corps” addresses the 10 main reasons people leave. And, she offers a solution for each. She said two of the reasons for leaving are that people feel they have too much to do and they do not believe they are appreciated.
Mix says she is fulfilled by being able to help those who otherwise would not have health care.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent