Family Nurse Practitioner Alumnus Works to Improve Health of Migrant Farm Workers

NOVEMBER 11, 2016 – Justin Stoltzfus (G’14), MS, RN, FNP-C, graduated from the online Family Nurse Practitioner Program at the School of Nursing & Health Studies. He lives in central Washington state, writing, “We moved here for access to the outdoors and the chance to live eastside of the Cascades.”

Stoltzfus uses his education as an advanced registered nurse practitioner to improve health and well-being for his patients – most of whom are migrant farm workers – at a federally qualified health center.

NHS: Where did you earn your BSN?

JS: I earned my BSN at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It was a great opportunity to complete my training in an accelerated program. It was the first time I had been exposed to working with migrant populations, and it spurred my desire to work with at-risk groups in health care. The school offered a great education and environments to practice nursing.

NHS: How long have you been a registered nurse?

JS: I have been a registered nurse for six years. Initially, I worked in neurology and then moved to the emergency department while I was finishing my graduate work. Both jobs gave me invaluable experience and excellent mentoring as I trained to be a nurse practitioner.

NHS: Why did you want to become a family nurse practitioner?

JS: Becoming a nurse practitioner was always part of my nursing plan. Early on, I felt I had the leadership qualities and personality that would lend itself to be successful in that role. As I worked in the acute care setting, I realized the potential to serve patients in a way that would actually improve their health so they never had to set foot into a hospital. Even today, when I am talking with new patients, I mention that one of my goals for them, no matter their health status, is to support them in a way that will lead to exceptional health and keep them out of the hospital.

NHS: What type of work are you now doing?

JS: I am currently working in a federally qualified health center that serves mainly migrant farm workers. I feel blessed in life and really wanted an opportunity to serve a community of need. An FQHC is a resource in any community for those seeking health care, and where I serve, we fill a tremendous need for those who have complicated health needs. I have never been more proud of the work I do, everyday. In my position, I have the opportunity to utilize all of my education from Georgetown. From seeing newborns, days after birth, to managing complex patients of varying ages, the training I received is the foundation for my practice.

NHS: What stands out about Georgetown’s program and its preparation for your career?

JS: Georgetown was my first choice among nursing programs to complete my graduate work. I was impressed with the ability of professors to connect with students and meet their needs in an atypical educational setting. One of the defining moments in my education came when I expressed my feelings of being overwhelmed with the prospect of making a mistake in practice. Professor [Tiffany] Pellathy so graciously connected with me in a way that calmed my fears and empowered me to excel both in the classroom and during clinical rotations. Every day I am thankful for her words of encouragement.

One never knows how well the education you obtained will transfer to the real-world environment. I feel that Georgetown provided me with an exceptional depth of knowledge for practice and the tools to grow as a family nurse practitioner.

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