Nurse Practitioner Adds Patients By Degrees
Posted on Thursday, October 28th, 2010
Clinic Team Attracts Kids: Sue Curry, LPN (left), and Pat Owens, ARNP, pose in front of a wall of photos provided by child patients.
Pat Owens, the ARNP (Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner) at Mercy Health/Love County clinic has a devoted following.
Dozens of photos of smiling youngsters, sent in by the kids or their parents, line the bulletin boards outside her office.
She typically sees 15-20 patients a day, most of them children or adolescents, some of them second-generation.
“A blond-haired boy was in the other day and Sue (Curry, office nurse) asked me, ‘Do you recognize him?’ He then pointed out his father’s picture on the bulletin board from when the dad was a teenager,” Owens said.
She has been a practitioner at the clinic since 1995, but her career with the hospital goes back to 1979, and her feelings about the place run deep.
“This is home,” Owens said, with a sweep of her hand around the office. “The doctors, administrators, everyone who works at the hospital, clinic, and ambulance have made this like a family. The community supports us. This feels like home to me.”
An ARNP is an RN (registered nurse) licensed to function independently. In the clinic, Owens performs physical examinations and diagnostic tests, develops and carries out treatment programs, and prescribes medications.
Besides pediatrics, Owens does well-woman checkups and serves some patients coming in for regular monitoring of chronic conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and breathing problems.
At her side is Sue Curry, LPN, whose nursing career with the hospital also goes back 30 years. Their children are similar ages and their families are close.
Owens says Curry is supportive and confidence-giving.
Curry says Owens is “wonderful to work for. Pat brings her nursing experience and outlook. She’ll help hold a kid or clean someone up. We see many more patients that way.”
With the encouragement of the hospital, Owens trained as a pediatric sexual abuse nurse examiner. She is among the examiners, with Curry assisting, called on by the Child Advocacy Center in Ardmore to perform medical evaluations of area victims of child sexual abuse.
The services take place at C-SARA Foundation’s “Sara’s House” near Mercy Memorial Hospital in Ardmore, where counselors and victim advocates are on hand to provide additional support.
Modest to a fault, Owens cringes at being referred to as a “straight A graduate student.” But she owns up right away to being a high school dropout.
“I dropped out at Wilson at age 16 and went to work as a nursing home aide. My mother was an RN so I’ve always been influenced to be part of the medical field,” she said.
Starting as a young EMT with the Love County ambulance in 1979, Owens began acquiring the necessary education to perform other medical roles.
She completed community college and gained licensure as a registered nurse for the hospital in 1981.
She earned a bachelor’s degree from East Central University in 1989 and was named director of hospital nursing in 1990.
In 1994, she graduated from University of Texas-Arlington with a master’s degree in nursing and certification as an ARNP.
In 2007, she followed up with a two-year program leading to a post-master’s certification in nursing education from the OU College of Nursing, winning recognition for both academic achievement and professional service.
No wonder any child thinking of dropping out will hear an encouraging word from “Dr. Pat.”
Owens’ family includes husband Mike, a business owner, and son Ryan, a 2002 graduate of Marietta High School and now an attorney in Norman. Her hobbies are swimming, rowing, and shopping.
Like the other practitioners in the clinic and hospital, Owens is intrigued by new medical technology, including handheld devices for entering a patient’s symptoms and calling up tests, drugs, diagnoses and “best practices.”
“It’s almost like the start of a new career,” she said about medicine today. I feel like my feet are in the past and the future."