People receiving health care today are becoming accustomed to services provided by nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
Patients are getting familiar with the roles they play and how they fit into the scheme of things at a medical clinic/ doctor’s office.
Mary Reszczynski is a nurse practitioner. She serves in a complementary role to primary care physician Dr. Michael Hetzner, D. O. at the Affinity Medical Group in Kiel which is affiliated with the Affinity Health System.
Before Reszczynski became educated and certified as a nurse practitioner she served in the cardiac unit of a Milwaukee hospital caring for patients following cardiac surgery, assisting in such procedures as open heart surgery, catheterization, angioplasty, pacemakers and the like.
Reszczysnki decided she wished to work in primary health care. Instead of ministering to patients requiring more invasive procedures, her focus would now be keeping people healthy, helping them to reduce risk factors. She moved from practicing intervention medicine in a hospital setting to practicing preventive medicine on the primary care level.
A large part of her work is to give information to patients on how they can live healthier lives. Along with that her job is to motivate patients to make changes that will make them healthier. Another part of her work is to give patients the tools they need to accomplish their goals. “Most people want to change and take better care of their health but may not know where to start,” said Reszczynski.
Although the younger generation is more indoctrinated on preventive practices, the older generation exposed to health messages through the media are understanding the benefits of being proactive. The older folks no longer adopt the thinking “If it is not a problem don’t mess with it.” Older and younger people are accepting the advice that now is the time to quit smoking; now is the time to do something about being overweight or obese, said Reszczynski who confided that what you learn in school and what you learn in the trenches is very different. “I came to realize that treating medical problems is much more complex. Taking care of ourselves can become complex,” she said.
Treating the whole person
Reszczynski shares the same philosophy embraced by Dr. Hetzner of giving quality time to patients and treating the whole person. When a patient is not compliant it is important to look for barriers and address those things, she said. Barriers can range from living an isolated existence to possessing psychological blocks. In some instances it may become necessary to make referrals to a specialist such as a therapist, psychiatric social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist.
Reszczynski said at the Affinity Medical Group in Kiel a registered nurse specialist is available to provide patients with guidance over several months on dealing with obesity and nutrition, smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure.
As part of her continuing education and support from her colleagues, Reszczynski meets on occasion with a close group of nurse practitioners from the Fox Valley. Throughout the year there are dinners and educational programs. There is also a Wisconsin group that attends a three-day spring conference on a variety of topics. One can also belong to the Wisconsin Nurses Association (WNA).
Locally, staff (including doctors) at the Kiel and Chilton Affinity Group clinics meet monthly at Calumet Medical Center, a gathering which has an educational component. One of those attending makes a presentation. “It is an opportunity to bounce things off one another,” she said.
When no openings exist at one clinic location, the working relationship between the two clinics allows us to make appointments at the other location, she said.
Very helpful in the transition of care is the new electronic health records system currently in use. It allows doctors and