Chamberlain student Markie Van’t Hul lives in a small town of 3,000 people in Hull, Iowa, close to the South Dakota border. She works in an equally small neighboring town, the remote nature of which makes access to care challenging for patients, especially those in need of specialized treatment.
“It’s extremely difficult to get mid-level providers like nurse practitioners or family practice physicians who provide specialized care to live or work in a small town,” said Van’t Hul. “That was the driving force behind my decision to give back to the region I have lived in – and now work in – for 20 years.”
Making the Leap – BSN to MSN FNP
Van’t Hul, who received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree through Chamberlain’s RN to BSN Online Option, decided to pursue her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. She enrolled in the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) specialty track so she could eventually meet the healthcare needs of her rural community.
“Chamberlain allows me to take two classes at a time, which was a huge plus,” said Van’t Hul. “The faculty at Chamberlain wanted me to get through the program successfully, which was a huge reason why I encouraged my friend and my niece to go to Chamberlain too.”
Before earning her BSN, Van’t Hul had worked as an air medical transport nurse for nearly six years, flying to rural areas to airlift patients to larger hospitals that offered the resources and specialized professionals to potentially save their lives.
“Sometimes we might land on a gravel road and get patients out of the back of ambulances where the EMTs were just volunteers,” said Van’t Hul. “I was always amazed by the amount of care one nurse could provide for someone in a life-threatening situation. The adrenaline, the drive to be the best you can be for every single patient, made it an incredible experience to go through.”
Demand for Primary Care Practitioners
Now a nursing professor at Northwestern College, Van’t Hul also works at a small hospital as a supervisor in the emergency room. She often shares her experiences as an air medical transport nurse with her students, inspiring them to take similar paths to serve remote communities.
Van’t Hul will complete the MSN-FNP specialty track in August 2017, but she doesn’t want to stop her education there. She hopes to earn her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree at Chamberlain so she can continue supporting patients at an even higher level.
The need for primary care practitioners in her hometown was the “golden reason” Van’t Hul decided to go back to school as demand for nurses with advanced degrees continues in rural areas. Nurses like Van’t Hul are helping to expand healthcare delivery and improve patient outcomes in underserved markets by bringing primary care and patient education to areas where it is currently lacking.
“If you come into the clinic and have major heart problems, you’ll be referred to a cardiologist an hour down the road,” said Van’t Hul of the region’s lack of specialized care.
Nurses who continue to grow through education are taking a step forward not only in their careers, but also towards improving health equity across the U.S. Van’t Hul is looking forward to continuing her studies at Chamberlain to further impact the patients in her community. When it comes to the impact she can make as a Chamberlain nurse, she believes the sky is the limit
Learn more about the MSN-FNP specialty track at Chamberlain.
Important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program can be found at chamberlain.edu/gemsn.
By Lauren Pope
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