Monday, November 29, 2010
Nurse prefers geriatrics
By ANNE KAZMIERCZAK
Becky French, a registered nurse practitioner, has been working in the nursing field “for almost 30 years now,” she said. This summer, she completed schooling to specialize in geriatric care.
“I took a year of time” to complete the program, French said. “It’s 100 hours of class time — I took a lot of it online. Then I read books — over and over again,” she said.
The alternative, she said, was leaving Iola for schooling, which could take two years.
French accelerated her efforts, passing the certification exam after 12 months of study.
French, who has two children at home, said her family was very supportive of her efforts. She and her husband Steven have six additional children in their combined family.
“Most of them live close,” she said. “They’re in and out. It’s Grand Central,” she said of her home.
FRENCH’S interest in elderly patients is not new. Early into her three and a half years at Iola’s The Family Physicians, “I asked to do the nursing home rounds,” she said.
“I’ve always enjoyed working with the elderly,” French added. “I just feel a lot of life experience can be learned from them; there’s a lot of wisdom they can share if we just stop and listen.”
Her own grandfather was close to 100 when he died, she said.
“Geriatric nursing focuses on keeping the aging patient well,” French explained, “and handling not only chronic diseases but acute diseases and prevention,” she said. “It’s about improving overall quality of life.”
Geriatrics is also a growing field, acknowledged French.
There are predicted to be 80 million seniors over the age of 65 by 2050, she said. Nationally, seniors make up 12 percent of the population. That percentage is also expected to grow.
In Allen County, 18 percent of the 13,000 residents are over 65.
“We have a very steadily growing population of geriatrics,” French said. “Keeping them well is a challenge.”
It was that challenge that lured French to specialize in geriatric care.
“I do a lot of nursing home rounds and it was a big challenge, all the medications,” that seniors tend to take, she said. That “polypharmacy” aspect of so many seniors’ lives was one reason French “decided I wanted to learn more” about their care, she said.
“Maybe we can look at what’s really necessary” and cut down on the number of pills the aged have to take each day, she said
At The Family Physicians, French said, all “mid level and above” staff consult together as needed about patients. That approach allows for the kind of care she learned seniors, especially, need.
Because physicians pool their talents, French said, her new certification “expands our knowledge and adds to our knowledge as a practice.”
“I’m very blessed to be working in this environment,” she said. “We all work as a team.”
In her job, French sees older patients every day, sometimes all day.
“I saw the challenges” associated with their care “and I wanted to meet those challenges,” she said. With her combination of nurse practitioner and geriatric training, “I’m dual prepared,” she said.
“I decided I was going to be a nurse when I was 18,” French said. “It was a calling. I love it. It is definitely a passion.”
That passion now extends to geriatric care.