It was the nurse practitioner in her own children’s pediatrician’s office who inspired Bonita Dietrich to further her nursing education and become an advanced practice provider.
“My own pediatrician, Dr. John Woerner, had a nurse practitioner, Margo Tennis, in his office when my children were young. I admired her and the great job she did,” Bonita said.
Advanced practice provider is a term that describes advanced practice nurses (APN), nurse practitioners (NP) and physician assistants (PA). These providers have advanced degrees and are trained to approach patient care in a way that complements the team approach to patient care. They can perform physical exams, prescribe medications, order tests, provide education and make referrals.
Expanding care options for patients
With the help of advanced practice providers, OSF HealthCare can expand options for patients while keeping their care within a single team they know and trust. It’s all about access, and advanced practice providers work closely with partnering doctors, giving patients another option for a higher level of care when they need to be seen.
“The role of the APP is a complement to the physicians that we work with,” Bonita said. “Many APPs develop expertise in different areas of need and manage patients with chronic conditions, enabling physicians to see many other patients.”
Bonita began her nursing career in August 1988 at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria. She worked in the pediatric unit, which at the time was called “little peds” for bedside nursing. She remained at OSF Saint Francis until January 1990 when she transferred to OSF HealthCare Medical Group – Pediatrics on Knoxville Avenue in Peoria to work as a registered nurse.
“I loved working as a registered nurse in the pediatric office, but I felt that there was more that I should be doing,” she said.
Continuing her education
Bonita pursued her bachelor’s degree from Sangamon State University as she worked in the pediatrics office. Work on her master’s degree followed, and in 1997 she completed her Master of Science in Family Nurse Practitioner from the University of Illinois in Chicago.
“I was pursuing my degree as a nurse practitioner at a time when there were only a few practicing in our area. The role of the nurse practitioner was fairly new and just beginning to be accepted by others in the health care field as well as patients served by them,” she said. “This was such an exciting new area in which to be a participant. I was blessed in that my office made a position for me to continue working there in my new role as a nurse practitioner.”
With a shortage of physicians in the U.S., Bonita said APPs play an important role in delivering quality and timely care to patients.
“In my position as an APP, I want my patients and their parents to know that I truly care for them, not just their condition or illness. I want them to know that I want what is best for them, the same as I would for one of my own family members,” she said. “I think this fosters respect for my role and my treatment plan for them. I do try to encourage patients and their parents to be active participants in their health care.
She would encourage anyone who may be considering advancing their education to consider becoming an APP.
“Being an advanced practice practitioner is a very challenging, rewarding career. I have never regretted my decision to further my education to accomplish my goal of being a nurse practitioner,” Bonita said. “OSF gave me a great opportunity to be successful in my career choice and I am very grateful for that opportunity. I work with a great group of physicians, nurses, front office assistants and managers who are totally encouraging and supportive of my role.
“And my patients are the best. Because I work in pediatrics, I get lots of hugs.”