MEDIA CONTACT: Susan Feinberg
FAU Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing Professor Named Nurse Practitioner of the Year in Palm Beach County
BOCA RATON , FL (February 26, 2007) - Susan M. Beidler is a nurse practitioner with a mission. As a teenager, she dreamed about becoming a medical missionary and helping disadvantaged populations around the world gain access to health care. Later, she decided to dedicate her talents to helping people in the United States.
“I realized I could do mission work in this country,” she said. “We have the most highly educated healthcare workforce in the world, yet we also have some of the most incredibly poor health conditions. People aren’t getting the health care they need because they can’t afford it, or it’s not geographically accessible.”
Beidler’s leadership and contributions as a family nurse practitioner and educator during her distinguished 30-year career are the reasons why she was recently named “Nurse Practitioner of the Year” by the Nurse Practitioner Council of Palm Beach County.
Beidler is using her nursing expertise and knowledge as the director of the West Gate Community Wellness Center, which is operated by the Quantum Foundation Center for Innovation in School and Community Well Being at the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University (FAU). The Center is the only nurse-managed “safety net” provider in Palm Beach County that provides primary health care for the uninsured and underinsured individuals. She is also an assistant research professor at FAU’s College of Nursing.
“People come to the West Gate Community Wellness Center who can’t get care anywhere else,” said Beidler. “Our clinic provides primary care services for people of all ages. We serve many individuals who immigrate to the United States and are not eligible for Medicaid or other medical assistance programs because they’re undocumented or earning too much as laborers or personal care aides. We capture these people before they fall through the net.”
There is a great need for nurses to work in this often unglamorous and under-rewarded area within the health care delivery system. Census figures show that a record 46.6 million Americans, including 8.3 million children, had no health insurance in 2005, up from 45.3 million in 2004. Meanwhile, premiums for those with coverage were up 7.7 percent in 2006, to $11,480 for a family of four in employer-sponsored plans.
After working as a registered nurse for five years, Beidler decided that becoming a nurse practitioner would be the best way to use her education and experience to help people who don’t have access to quality health care. “There’s a lot that needs to be done in the area of health promotion and disease prevention,” said Beidler. “I believe that professional registered nurses and advanced practice nurses are the most appropriate health professionals to address those needs.”
“The basic needs of many people, such as screening, disease prevention and chronic disease management, aren’t being addressed,” she added. “You can do that with our highly educated nursing workforce. As long as we focus on the physician as a sole source of health care, we’re going to continue to have an incredibly expensive health care delivery system that has some of the poorest outcomes among all of the developed countries in the world.”
One of the problems with nursing today, she said, is that technology and profits have become more important than meeting patients’ needs. “We focus too much on routine tasks such as charting and on meeting certain regulatory requirements. We’ve allowed ourselves to become enmeshed in a system in which there’s no time for interacting with patients and families and for human touch. There’s no substitute for that. That is the essence of nursing. It’s why I love the profession.”
During her nursing career, Beidler has worked as a rehabilitation nurse, a diabetes educator, and most recently, as a senior research assistant and clinical lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Albright College, and master and doctoral degrees in nursing, as well as a master of bioethics degree, from the University of Pennsylvania.
Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing is committed to nurturing the wholeness of persons and environment through caring.