7/17 - UW Health Interview Event featuring Eastpark Medical Center
Careers at UW Health

‘It takes a village to provide remarkable health care’

‘It takes a village to provide remarkable health care’

Amy Chybowski, Nurse Practitioner and APP supervisor
Amy Chybowski

APP spotlight

Amy Chybowski, Nurse Practitioner and APP supervisor
Pulmonary and Critical Care, University Hospital

What are you doing in your work area that is interesting and new?

I’ve been collaborating with Jenna Brink, PA, on a special medical ICU (MICU) project in our respective departments. In early 2021, it became apparent that there would be a significant gap in staffing for the MICU service at University Hospital due to changes in graduate medical education (GME) programming. We identified that expansion of the APP team and role could be a sustainable long-term solution. Hiring and onboarding multiple new APP team members to close this gap would take considerably longer than the six-month timeframe in which the coverage was needed. Working with several amazing colleagues, we launched an ongoing partnership between the DOM and DEM APP team. Jenna and a cohort of the DEM APP teams continue to partner with the MICU team in staffing the MICU service at University Hospital. It has been very rewarding to see our pilot evolve into a successful collaborative relationship that promotes APP Scope of Practice and supports professional fulfillment.

What do you love most about working at UW Health?

I’ve worked at UW Health for nearly 15 years, first as a nurse on the night shift in the Trauma and Life Support Center and now 11 years as a nurse practitioner in Pulmonary and Critical Care. I have always valued how UW Health supports professional development and advancement. Additionally, UW Health demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity and engagement of APPs in organizational committees and leadership roles, ensuring each provider is represented and supported to maintain professional fulfillment and well-being.

What are a few words you use to describe your co-workers and team at UW Health?

I am humbled every day by the talented individuals I work with. It takes a village to provide remarkable health care while also caring for each other when challenges undoubtedly arise. Each person I work with provides their unique contribution to promote strong teams that have demonstrated perseverance and commitment to our patients and one another. My colleagues make me a better APP and I wouldn’t be here without them.

What have your patients taught you about yourself?

What haven’t my patients taught me is really the question. They have taught me how to truly listen and try to understand their experience. They have taught me how to build trusting relationships that allow us to make decisions together in selecting medical testing and treatment that aligns with their values and preferences.

Tell us about your family.

I live with my husband and two children in Middleton. We love the Madison area and have had so much fun meeting families across the city through soccer, swimming and baseball. The support I receive from my family has been invaluable in allowing me to be where and who I am today.

What are your special interests?

I enjoy reading, especially mysteries, hiking and tent camping with my family. I’m super excited about the filming of Top Chef, Season 21, in Wisconsin.

Outside of work, what did you accomplish in the last year that makes you proud?

I planted flowers from seed this year for the first time and have a fabulous bunch of zinnias and cosmos.

‘It truly takes a village of people to make this institution thrive’

Portrait of Randy DeGreef, Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant
Randy DeGreef

APP spotlight

Randy DeGreef, Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant (CAA) and CAA Education Team Lead
University Hospital

What do you love most about working at UW Health?

Like many of us, I went into health care to make a positive impact on the lives of our patients. For 19 years, UW Health has been my home for my family and has provided me the opportunity to care for patients, grow as a professional and pass on what others gave me in the form of education opportunities.

What are your special interests?

At work, I have put in a lot of effort over 19 years toward CAA education. At home, I spend most of my time and effort on my children, plus a little side hobby of managing a few fish tanks for fun.

What are a few words to describe your co-workers and team at UW Health?

Our anesthesia department is home to more than 200 high-quality providers, including anesthesiologists, fellows, residents, CAAs and certified nurse anesthetists (CRNAs). My co-workers include all these amazing, dedicated, diverse anesthesia providers, plus so many nurses and technicians in and around the operating room environment. To this day, I continue to be amazed to find that these people, on an individual level, care so deeply for their patients and their outcomes. It truly takes a village of people to make this institution thrive and I am proud to be a very small part of it.

What have your patients taught you?

On a regular basis, my job and my patients remind me to be humble and grateful. In this profession, we see sick people every day, often at their most vulnerable. My patients remind me to be grateful for my own health and my family’s health. I’m also grateful that I can help them, and am reminded to stay humble, knowing that at any moment, I could find myself in a uniquely challenging situation that tests my skills and pushes me to my limits.

Tell us about your family.

I am a husband of 18 years to a wonderful woman from south Georgia. We have two children, Hazel, 7, and Harrison, 5. My family is truly my pride and joy. Our home has always been rounded out by the love and affection from some dogs, previously two Siberian huskies and now a big, old, lovable black lab.

Outside of work, what did you accomplish in the past year that makes you proud?

Honestly, it’s probably cliché, but I am most proud of my children. My job and my patients get a lot of me, but my family gets the best of me.

‘Grateful to be a part of an organization that fosters true collaboration’

Portrait of Jillian Bodden Hoenisch, Nurse Practitioner
Jillian Bodden Hoenisch

APP spotlight

Jillian Bodden Hoenisch, Nurse Practitioner
Geriatrics, E Terrace Dr Medical Center

Tell us about your specialty.

I work as a nurse practitioner with the UW Health Geriatrics team. In my role, I’m part of the geriatrics primary care team, providing comprehensive care to patients age 65 and older who have acute and chronic medical conditions. I’m also part of the memory clinic team, providing care to individuals with memory concerns, mild cognitive impairment and dementia. I’m grateful to be a lead provider of the perioperative optimization of senior health (POSH) team, which focuses on reducing complications associated with surgery. Outside of my clinical work, I’m a member of the UW Health APP Advisory Council and the Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice Council.

Why did you choose geriatrics?

As a nurse practitioner, I’m certified to care for both adult and older adult patients. During graduate school, I had an opportunity to work with a team that was conducting research with older adults. Through this research and in thinking about my close relationships with the older people in my life (shout-out to my Gram who is 96 and independent!), I was excited about the opportunity to work with the geriatrics team at UW Health. It is a team that provides truly interdisciplinary care of the whole patient and their family. I’m inspired by the wisdom of our patients. I learn so much from them.

What are you doing in your work area that is interesting and new?

I’ve been working to create a streamlined and comprehensive evaluation in the POSH Clinic. We’ve recently added a nurse to our team, which has really helped to improve the care coordination and follow-through on some of our recommendations. Our POSH team works with patients across the health care continuum, which I really enjoy.

On the UW Health APP Advisory Council and the Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice Council, my colleagues and I are working to improve advancement, engagement and the well-being of our APPs and nurses. I appreciate the opportunity to improve our health care system to make it a better place for both the employees and the patients.

What do you love most about working at UW Health?

I am so grateful to be a part of an organization that fosters true collaboration in helping to provide exceptional care for our patients. I appreciate the opportunity to provide care to individuals while also working with teams to improve our system in providing better care to our patients and employees.

What are a few words to describe your co-workers and team at UW Health?

The team members I work with are incredible. From their breadth of knowledge to their passion for improving patient care, each person offers such important perspective to the care of the patients. They also make each day fun.

What have your patients taught you about yourself?

My patients have given me endless words of wisdom. A few of the main lessons I’ve learned from my patients include:

  • Gratitude is the key to happiness
  • Find joy in the small moments
  • Try to be truly present
  • The best marriage qualities are commitment and humor

I’ve also learned that the things we do when we are younger impact our health as we age. Developing a healthy lifestyle and being socially connected can help you thrive.

Outside of work, what did you accomplish in the past year that makes you proud?

In the last year, I was so proud to have completed my first marathon. My sister and I ran it together in matching outfits. I’m also proud to be growing my family.

Tell us about your family and interests.

I have a wonderful spouse, Max, and two three-legged dogs, Bert and Scarlett. This fall, we will be welcoming a new baby to our family. I love to spend time outdoors, whether walking/ running, kayaking, hiking or camping. We have a teardrop camper that we love to take on adventures.

‘Meet patients where they are’

Portrait of Jenna Brink, Physician Assistant, APP Supervisor
Jenna Brink

APP spotlight

Jenna Brink, Physician Assistant and APP supervisor
Emergency Medicine, University Hospital and East Madison Hospital

What are you doing in your work area that is interesting and new?

Working in the Emergency Department, I like operational efficiencies. I enjoy looking at processes and figuring out what we can do to improve both patient and employee satisfaction. I recently had an opportunity to participate in a rapid improvement event for University Hospital. One of the areas I am most proud of is the partnership that formed between our medical intensive care unit (MICU), advanced practice provider (APP) teams and emergency management APPs. I can take care of a wide variety of patients from the simple ankle sprain to the most critically ill.

When an opportunity came to partner with the MICU team to help address staffing issues, I knew my teammates would be the perfect solution. We spend countless hours working through the process and recruiting APPs and I am proud to say we successfully created a cohort that also works in the MICU. This unique program is an excellent model to help with both staffing and retention as it allows people to learn a new skill set while working in their home area.

Wellness is another area of interest. One of my goals in the coming years is to spend time understanding APP wellness — what it looks like and implementing changes to help.

What do you love most about working at UW Health?

When I graduated from physician assistant school and was looking for my first job, I was very honored to be offered a position here at UW Health. I have always been impressed that UW Health provides innovative, quality patient care along with educating future providers.

What are a few words to describe your co-workers and team at UW Health?

I genuinely love and value each member of our team — they are some of the hardest working, dedicated and smart people I know. We look out for one another and help when needed. Whether personal or just a rough shift, we are there to support each other.

What have your patients taught you?

Working in the Emergency Department, I see patients and families on some of the worst days of their lives. All patients respond a little differently to stress. Some get angry, some quiet, some are anxious. My younger self could become frustrated by these variations in emotions and not know how to handle them. After lots of reflection and experience, I learned that the answer was easy: Meet patients where they are. I have learned that even though I am generally a multitasking person with hundreds of thoughts running through my head, I truly enjoy the moments where I can sit down and connect with my patients. These are the moments in my job that I cherish.

Tell us about your family.

Family is such an important part of my life. I live with my long-term partner, Bill, who is a nurse here at UW Health. It is nice to have a partner that understands some of the many daily stressors that come with working in health care. My parents still reside in my hometown of Medford, Wis. When I look back to my childhood, I see that many of the characteristics I need to be a successful physician assistant were instilled in me from a young age. Determination, hard work and dedication, to name a few. My brother and sister-in-law live in Waunakee with my nephew, Theo.

Outside of work, what did you accomplish in the past year that makes you proud?

Last fall, I sustained an injury that prevented me from long evening walks with podcasts. I was worried about my stress as a result. I decided I could either allow myself to be depressed or find new stress reduction techniques I returned to past hobbies such as reading and putting puzzles together, and taught myself paper quilling. Before I knew it, I had healed. I’ve continued these hobbies and am back to walking and podcasts. I have also found a passion for weightlifting. I always had a desire to feel physically strong so this past January, I told my personal trainer I had dreams of doing a body weight pull-up — but I didn’t think I could ever do it. I also wanted to get into barbell squats and deadlifts. I now train regularly. While I haven’t quite mastered a body weight pull-up yet, I am getting stronger and that makes me proud.

‘They inspire me to provide the best care possible’

Drew Pearson, Nurse Practitioner
Drew Pearson

APP spotlight

Drew Pearson, Nurse Practitioner
General Surgery, 1340 Charles St Clinic, Rockford

Why did you choose general surgery?

It’s a specialty where many times you can help a patient feel better in a short amount of time. When a patient is having pain because of their appendix or gallbladder, and you remove it, they feel better instantly. It is also a hands-on specialty and being able to work in the operating room is another benefit.

What kinds of surgeries do you perform?

I assist our surgeons in performing laparoscopic, robotic and sometimes open surgeries. These range from appendectomy, cholecystectomy and hernia repairs to emergent exploratory surgeries on patients who come in through the emergency room and are sometimes quite ill.

How long have you worked with us?

As a nurse in the ICU, I started working at SwedishAmerican Hospital in March 2011. I have been with the organization ever since, so 12½ years. I started in general surgery in March 2018.

What do you love most about working at UW Health?

This is an easy question: The people, especially my co-workers in general surgery.

What are a few words to describe your co-workers and team at UW Health?

Dedicated, hard working and family.

What have your patients taught you about yourself?

They inspire me to provide the best care possible. The patients really do appreciate not only our knowledge, but the individualized care we provide.

Tell us about your family

I am married and have two kids. My wife is a special education teacher. We live in Winnebago, Ill., which is a small town just outside of Rockford.

Outside of work, what did you accomplish in the past year that makes you proud?

I will start adjunct teaching in nurse practitioner programs this fall. I really looked up to my nursing school teachers who helped me get to where I am today. I hope to follow in their footsteps and be an instructor that students enjoy learning from during their nurse practitioner journey.

‘The patient makes the final decision’

Beatriz Folcik, Physician Assistant, Family Medicine, Oregon Clinic
Beatriz Folcik

APP spotlight

Beatriz Folcik, Physician Assistant
Family Medicine, Oregon Clinic

Tell us about your specialty.

I provide health care to patients of all ages for both sudden and chronic health concerns, including diabetes and high blood pressure. I also provide women’s health care, including general care. I like to involve the patient in decisions about their care. Family medicine helps me provide knowledge and support but also understand that the patient makes the final decision. As I make recommendations for patients, I also consider their family members or others who may provide support for that patient at home. The most rewarding part of caring for people is when I see a patient outside the clinic and they express their appreciation for the treatment they received.

What do you love most about working at UW Health?

I like that I practice medicine in the community where I live. When I see patients in the clinic, we have only a short time to figure out what is going on with their health. But when I see them in public and they are thriving — that is the best feeling.

What are a few words to describe your co-workers and team at UW Health?

The Oregon Clinic is a hometown family clinic. We are a small but cohesive, wonderful group, where our staff works well together with our providers. Many times, I refer to the Oregon Clinic as a well-oiled machine. We get our work done, and in the process, we have become family.

What have your patients taught you about yourself?

The biggest lesson I have learned is that sometimes to be a good clinician, you don’t always get to fix the problem. Sometimes there is no fixing it and you are there to listen and empathize. In today’s world, where we are all in a hurry, taking that extra five minutes to listen and connect with a patient, can make all the difference to them.

Tell us about your family.

I live in Oregon with my husband and three kids, ages 12, 9 and 7. In 2021, my father moved in with us because of the pandemic, and to help with the kids when all the daycare centers were closed and school was virtual. We make it work as a family and the kids get to see grandpa every day.

What are your special interests?

I have seasonal hobbies. In winter, I like to read, knit, play piano and take kids to practice. In summer, I like to garden, go for walks or bike rides, and take the kids to more practice, usually soccer.

Outside of work, what did you accomplish in the past year that makes you proud?

Outside of work and kids, I would say my biggest accomplishment is my vegetable garden. I grow vegetables with my dad and my neighbor. I originally came here from Mexico City, where gardens and farms are far away. Since coming to Wisconsin in 2000, I was blown away with having four seasons. Now as an adult with kids, I really enjoy growing food and getting creative with recipes and putting it on the table. Our biggest accomplishment this year was growing gourmet purple potatoes.

Welcome from the Interim APP Director

Sarah Redemann portrait

Thank you for your interest in UW Health. We are proud to employ more than 800 advanced practice providers (APPs) — nurse practitioners, physician assistants, certified anesthesiologist assistants, certified registered nurse anesthetists and certified nurse midwives — at our health care institution. We’ve been ranked the No. 1 hospital in Wisconsin for 11 consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report and have had multiple medical and surgical specialties ranked among the best in the nation over the years. Our practice spans Dane County and the surrounding regions to include primary care and specialty ambulatory practices as well as inpatient services provided at University Hospital, the UW Health | Carbone Cancer Center, American Family Children’s Hospital, East Madison Hospital, surrounding hospitals and northern Illinois. Our Advanced Practice Providers (APPs) participate in advancing our mission by serving an essential role in providing exceptional care for our patients, teaching the next generation of learners, and promoting health in our communities.

As the Interim Director of APPs and a nurse practitioner myself, it is my goal and vision to have all our APPs work at the top of their scope of practice, have opportunities for growth, and be compensated fairly for their work. I want our APPs to love coming to work, to enjoy what they do and to feel fulfilled in giving remarkable patient care. We have a team of APP managers, supervisors and leads that work to continually improve how we work as APPs. All APPs at UW report to another APP. Beginning a new position is always a significant transition full of new challenges and opportunities. You have made an excellent choice to visit our site and explore what UW Health APPs experience as part of a collaborative health care team. We are excited that you are interested in joining our team!

Sincerely,


Sarah Redemann, RN, MSN, FNP-C

Learning from the best

Jess Derks

APP Spotlight: Jess Derks, Nurse Practitioner, Neonatology; American Family Children’s Hospital; Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Tell us about yourself.

I’m from a small town called Hortonville, Wisconsin. I’m the oldest of three and have a brother and sister. I’m the only one who went to college. I knew college was in my future since I was very young. I attended Marian University in Fond du Lac, where I earned my bachelor’s degree. I have always loved kids and I knew wanted to work with them. My senior year in college, I trained at St. Joseph’s in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and knew, without a doubt, that is where I wanted to be. I’ve now been a nurse for 15 years.

Tell us about your family.

My husband, Bob, and I have been married for 13 years. Our three kids—Sloane, 12, Sutton, 8, and Crewe, 5—keep me busy outside of work. We now live outside of Hortonville and our extended family lives nearby.

How did you come to UW Health?

When I was in graduate school and thinking of clinical sites and possible job positions, I knew if I wanted to be the best, I had to learn from the best. I applied for a neonatal nurse practitioner position at UW Health. Even though it was six months before graduation, I wanted them to know I was interested in their program. The recruiter told me about a unique neonatal nurse practitioner internship. I completed the internship while in graduate school. The internship paid a nurse wage and that was very attractive for me and my family. Now, I work as a nurse practitioner at American Family Children’s Hospital.

What inspires you about your profession?

Early in my career, one of my teachers taught me that babies whisper to us and it is our job to listen and react accordingly. I have held onto that lesson my entire career. Bedside nursing is so vital and I’m honored to be trusted by families to care for their fragile baby. People often ask how I do it. Sometimes we do lose a patient and those are the absolute worst days. When that happens, I always take time to decompress. I also see micropreemie, a baby who is born on or before 26 weeks or weighs less than 28 ounces. Many of them are on ventilators. The day I get to watch them leave the hospital, breathing on their own and thriving, fills my heart with so much joy. Those days keep me going.

Do you have a memorable experience in your career that has stayed with you?

I recall a little boy who stole my heart a few years ago. He was born with cytomegalovirus (CMV) and it went to his brain. How that mama loved her baby boy—the way she looked at him, I’ll never forget. He was one of my first patients working at American Family Children’s Hospital, born at 32 weeks. In addition to CMV, he had cleft palate in addition to endocrine and esophageal issues. There were so many specialties involved in his care and they all worked seamlessly together. Eventually palliative care got involved and, unfortunately, he didn’t survive. The entire team did absolutely they could for him and I was incredibly honored to be a part of his team.

What have your patients taught you about yourself?

My patients are tiny but oh so mighty. They teach me resilience and patience and I carry those traits with me at home as well. Being a working mom is hard. I see moms in the NICU who can’t take their babies home because they have long stays in the hospital. Some even lose a child. It’s devastating and so I never take anything for granted. COVID-19, workplace challenges and turnover are hard to deal with. My little patients teach me to love. I am thankful to fight with them for their recovery and health. It’s the best gift.

In a few words, how would you describe your coworkers and team at UW Health?

The NICU team members are the best. They have such great minds and hearts. They foster learning and growth. Our faculty leader, Ryan McAdams, MD, is incredible. He is a busy doctor but is always attentive to our staff and takes time to get to know us and our families. He wants us to excel in our interests. I feel the advanced practice provider (APP) role is highly valued and respected here. UW Health has always been progressive and recognizes talent⸺and that is refreshing.

Outside of work, what did you accomplish this year that makes you proud?

By far, I’m most proud of my kids and family. I worked hard in graduate school and I missed out on so much with them. I’m invested in my job but also in my home and family. So, I make every effort to be present for them.

Helping patients feel respected and safe

Sarah Benedict

APP Spotlight: Sarah Benedict, Nurse Practitioner, Internal Medicine, 20 S Park Clinic, Madison

Tell us about yourself?

I’m celebrating my 15-year work anniversary at UW Health, 11 of those years as a registered nurse. I pursued my nurse practitioner degree when my kids were very young. I consider getting my master’s degree as my third child! I completed my master’s through an online program and earned my clinicals at UW Health and Physicians Associated. I originally thought I’d go into cardiology but fell in love with internal medicine early in my training. I enjoy collaborating with the nurses, fellow advanced practice providers (APPs) and MDs, and really couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I am very proud that my team and I implemented service geared toward treating alcohol and drug use disorders in our clinic practice, and broadened patient care for prevention of HIV.

Tell us about your family.

I am a mother of two kids, Beau, 7, and Halle, 8. They keep my husband, Matt, and I very busy. We have a 33-year-old horse, Fargo. I’ve had him since I was 13. This summer, we adopted two kittens from a local rescue. For fun, we try to get outside as much as possible and to hike, walk, bike and hang out near lakes. We recently took a family trip to Breckenridge, Colorado. The area is beautiful and fun in the summer months. 

How did you come to UW Health?

I grew up in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and attended Viterbo University there. At a career fair, I chatted with a UW Health recruiter who introduced me to the nurse residency program and it really interested me. I completed my nurse practitioner training at Gunderson Clinic in La Crosse. I really wanted to work in an intensive care unit (ICU) and was lucky to be hired into the Cardiac Medical ICU at University Hospital where I worked for two years before transitioning to the cath lab procedure area.

What inspires you about your profession?

I love having the extra autonomy that being an APP gives me. A nurse is a highly respected role but is still working under the direction of a doctor. As a nurse practitioner in internal medicine, I design a patient’s care team, diagnose illness, prescribe treatments, and monitor routine health and wellness. I see adult patients, ages 18⸺100+ for routine visits, acute conditions or new diagnoses. I love that I am encouraged to develop my interests, including drug and alcohol abuse, HIV prevention and transgender health. I also make it my mission to get more APPs comfortable with these areas.

Do you have a memorable experience in your career that has stayed with you?

I can’t recall a specific moment, but am always touched when I receive a nice card or MyChart message from a patient who is thankful for the care I provided. It is fulfilling to know I am truly helping people live better lives. I also love taking care of moms and daughters, married couples or an entire family.

What have your patients taught you about yourself?

My patients have taught me humility. As a provider, I expect my patients to disclose to me highly personal details. I go out of my way to make sure they feel respected, protected and safe with me. And in turn, I’m always honest. For me, it’s okay if I don’t have the answer but it’s absolutely my responsibility to get them the help they need. My patients also teach me vulnerability. I take time to learn more about them to establish a trusting relationship. Open and honest communication is important. It’s always my job to make them feel as comfortable as possible.

In a few words, how would you describe your coworkers and team at UW Health?

The team I work with is fantastic! We are family. I see them more during the week than my own family. We trust and admire one another. They know me well; we lean on one another for help. We have a synergy with our workday. I know I can lean on the team to take care of my patients if I can’t. We troubleshoot and always have each other’s backs. The nurses, MAs and scheduling personnel are such an important part of my team, and I couldn’t do my job without their huge efforts.

Outside of work, what did you accomplish this year that makes you proud?

I’m proud we are raising our children to respect the healthcare community and diversity. They are proud of their dad, who is our family’s general care provider. He transitioned from his full-time job as an engineer when COVID-19 hit hard in March 2020 and has been home taking care of our family and home ever since. I’m proud we can thrive in a time of uncertainty. It has really tested us as a family unit and we are doing incredibly well.

I also must mention another inspiration. My husband’s mother—who I never met—passed away in her 50s from breast cancer. She was a trailblazing nurse practitioner in family medicine. We laugh that he married a nurse practitioner—it’s like a true continuation of her memory and legacy.

At the end of the day, I love my job—I’m lucky.

Assuring patients they can do hard things

Rose Staden

APP Spotlight: Rose Staden, Nurse Practitioner, Infectious Diseases, University Hospital and HIV Care/Prevention Clinic

Tell us about yourself.

I am a mom and live with my husband and kids in the fun Tenney-Lapham neighborhood. I love playing sand volleyball in the summer and all the outdoor activities Madison has to offer. We try to travel by bike as much as possible and it has been fun exploring with my kids this summer. I am the only nurse practitioner in the UW Health HIV Care and Prevention Program. After 10 years, I continue to thrive in my role.

My husband and I live in Madison with our two children, ages 6 and 4. We have extended family throughout Wisconsin and Illinois and on both coasts.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in rural west central Wisconsin, near Tomah.

How did you come to UW Health?

I started as an inpatient registered nurse after graduating from UW–Madison School of Nursing and returned following graduate school as a nurse practitioner.

What inspires you about your profession?

HIV and HIV prevention have evolved significantly. It’s amazing to think how far treatment has come. Unfortunately, we are still far from a cure, but it’s encouraging to share with new patients that with daily medication they can live a long healthy life, have a family and continue activities they love. With effective HIV treatment, there is no risk of sexual transmission to partners, which is really important information to empower patients with. We are able to offer very effective, well-tolerated HIV-prevention medications to anyone at risk for HIV. We continue to spread the word about HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)—and it is rewarding to give patients this tool for prevention.

Do you have a memorable moment in your career that has stayed with you?

Receiving a diagnosis of HIV is a life-altering experience. I want patients to know that we understand this and that it gets better. I’ve seen people come full circle, from devastation at diagnosis, to showing strength during treatment, to celebrating their undetectable status. To be a part of each patient’s journey is not only an honor, but has become a part of how I practice. I find strength in this process and work hard to convey hope to those who are newly diagnosed. We follow patients long term, so we are there with them to share in many of their life experience. I feel fortunate to share in patients’ joy as they have babies they never thought they would have, become HIV peer mentors to support others, and incorporate their diagnosis into their lives, however that works for them.

What have your patients taught you about yourself?

My patients have taught me how to use the urban dictionary! It’s been so useful with our young adult patients. Every patient has their own unique experience, and to effectively do my job, I need to ask questions and be curious. It is essential that I convey this interest in a nonjudgmental way, and assure them we can all do hard things. HIV treatment has come such a long way and can be well-managed with a daily pill for many patients, but stigma is still pervasive. Many have overcome very challenging situations and adversity. My patients inspire me.

In a few words, how would you describe your coworkers and team at UW Health?

I work with an amazing team of nurses, social workers, pharmacists, medical assistants and clinicians. This is critical to comprehensive HIV care, and the insight from each team member is so valuable. Everyone works well together to provide thorough and smooth visit but as well as ongoing support for patients beyond the clinic visit. It is through this collaboration with our team that patients remain engaged in care.

Outside of work, what did you accomplish this year that makes you proud?

I taught my 4-year-old to ride his bike without training wheels and he loves it so much!