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Oregon NP Wins Prestigious National Practice Award
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The dedication Theresa Russell, FNP, has demonstrated to her profession and her community has drawn accolades from her congressman and the business community, but she was still surprised when the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) contacted her to announce she won its 2016 State Award for Excellence.

“I was shocked,” Russell said. “I am honored to be recognized, but I kind of wanted to know what I did.”

What Russell has done is build a unique rural practice that addresses her patients’ and communities’ needs.

After working at a hospital in Washington and at a local clinic for many years, Russell began searching for a position in her hometown six years ago.

“I wasn’t happy where I was,” said Russell. “I had fantastic job offers, but I didn’t want to commute. So I had an idea to start a small clinic.”

After discussing her plan with friend Polly DeVore, the idea grew from dreams of a small home practice to constructing a new clinic with an integrated pharmacy, drive-thru, ambulance access, life support and specialized equipment. In 2010, Olive Branch Family Health clinic was born.

“It came together like it was meant to be,” Russell said.

Today, Russell and clinic director DeVore work with a team of registered nurses (RNs) and receptionists, and an independent pharmacy. Employing RNs in their clinic allows nurses to do jobs other staff can’t; including health assessments and blood draws and offering health care advice over the phone. This team-based approach helps patients get the information they need quickly and saves Russell time.

While Olive Branch has embraced a modern team-based primary care home model, it continues to offer traditional rural provider services, including home visits.

“I’ve done home visits as a part of my practice since 1998. When you see patients in their home environment you see a part of them that you wouldn’t see otherwise,” Russell said.

Russell’s focus on increasing access and reducing barriers for patients has allowed her to build a special bond with her community.

“Theresa is always available. She’s amazing with patients,” DeVore said. “Today for example, a male patient we see weekly came in for his appointment. We knew we were going to spend extra time with him because he sees us as friends and extended family. Theresa takes those relationships seriously and plans her schedule accordingly.”

Russell also finds time to precept NP students at Olive Branch. If visiting students need a place to stay, she evens offers them an apartment on her property.

Lacey Wilson, FNP, was a former student of Theresa’s.

Congratulations to Theresa Russell, FNP, on earning the AANP 2016 State Award for Excellence. 

“Theresa has been a tremendous preceptor. I’m working my first year as an NP at Olive Branch while I complete my DNP clinicals with Theresa,” Wilson said. “It is a gift to be able to work in the clinic and not a hospital. Regardless of how busy she is, Theresa always takes time to answer my questions. Theresa combines patient needs with current clinical practices to achieve optimum patient outcomes.”

Russell’s passion for nursing and learning doesn’t stop with NP students. She also hosts students in Rotary-sponsored job-shadowing programs.

“I believe in the importance of education. When a 12-year-old tells me they want to become a nurse, I get excited and invite them to the clinic,” Russell said.

Russell’s success engaging her community shows.

In a town with a population of 1,900, she serves 1,700 active patients from Enterprise and the surrounding areas, including a satellite clinic in Wallowa, Oregon, a city that lost its permanent health care clinic a few years ago.

Seeing a need, Russell responded by working with the city of Wallowa to open a one-day-a-week clinic in a building owned by the city.

“When health care goes away, people don’t feel validated and they don’t feel they are a part of a community,” DeVore said.

“Reopening a clinic revitalizes the community,” Russell said.

Russell’s commitment to increasing community health services led her to use her experience as a certified oncology nurse to help establish a chemotherapy program at a local hospital in 1996; a program which continues to serve patients today.

Both Russell and DeVore have also helped advance nursing practice statewide by testifying before the Oregon Legislature on important health care issues including nurse practitioner payment parity, workers’ compensation authorization time limits, virtual credit card transparency and health plan disclosures, along with working on the federal Home Health Care Improvement Act.

Russell’s ongoing service to her communities has helped revitalize them and led to increased access and better care for her patients. ONA is proud to congratulate Russell on her achievements as one of Oregon’s outstanding NPs.

As part of her award, Russell will be recognized at AANP’s 2016 National Conference on June 21-26 in San Antonio, Texas.




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