(Sept. 13, 2016) – Over the past 10 months, UT Health Services (UTHS) has put on a fresh face by making improvements not only to its facilities, but also to its model of care. Focus groups with patients, monthly wellness programs and additional care providers have been added to the clinic in Suite 1620 at University Center Tower (UCT), 7000 Fannin Street. UT Health Services is UTHealth’s nurse-managed primary care clinic, available to UTHealth, corporate clients and the Houston community.

The nurse practitioners (NPs) at UT Health Services provide quality primary health care with an emphasis on health promotion, illness prevention and health restoration. George Delclos, M.D., professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences of UTHealth School of Public Health is the collaborating physician and periodically available in the clinic to meet additional medical needs and for ongoing consultation.  Assistant Professor of Clinical Nursing Susan Y. Parnell, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.N., Department of Family Health, is director of occupational health contracts for the practice.

UTHS provides comprehensive primary care across the life span, occupational health, diabetes education and travel medicine services, logging nearly 17,000 visits by patients this year. UTHS has been awarded Level 3 recognition by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Patient-Centered Medical Home 2011™ program, which is the highest recognition NCQA provides for patient-centered, coordinated care that supports access, communication and patient involvement.

Following is a “Meet the nurse practitioners at UTHealth Services” Q&A by UTHealth Public Affairs–

DELOREAN ALEXANDER, M.S.N., R.N.

When did you join UTHealth? I joined UTHealth in December of 2015. I returned to UTHealth, where I had completed my last semester of preceptorship at UT Health Services in the summer of 2014, because I really like the environment, the education and research base, and the opportunities to participate in new projects with the organization.

What does a day on the job look like for you? We start at 7 a.m. Since I’m relatively new here I’m still building my patient population; I now have returning patients and it’s starting to build. We do a lot of contract work for employers throughout Houston, so I often see those spur of the moment walk-in patients. My day can be busy or steady, filled with sick visits or annual physicals or diabetes management or chest pains. We really cover the whole spectrum.

What is your greatest accomplishment so far personally or professionally? Since I’m fairly new to this, only two years since I graduated in fall of 2014, this is my second job as a nurse practitioner. I’m still learning a lot and I think just being out there and trying new things is an achievement for me. I started out as a community nurse practitioner and it was very challenging because of the limited resources and you end up playing every role. It served as a good stepping stone to build confidence and gain exposure to a lot of conditions.

What is the greatest life lesson you’ve learned from this job or in life? It has to be to listen. Listen to people and actually hear what they are saying, because everyone has a story and everyone is trying to tell you something just in different ways. 

What is your favorite thing about your job? Meeting so many different people and being able to touch so many lives. It can be overwhelming sometimes if you sit back and think about it, how many people listen to you and what you say. It’s big shoes to fill and very rewarding when you can find that one small detail a patient mentions that helps figure out what they’ve been going through.

What is something very few people know about you? I have learned to be an open book as I’ve gotten older, so I would say my favorite characteristic is that I’m happy. I like to enjoy life and am a “healthy amount of happy,” especially now that I’ve been able to travel more. I love to make life experiences and memories.

What is your greatest adventure so far? I think hiking up the mountains in Hawaii. Even though I tore my Achilles tendon, it was the most fun I’ve had.

What was your favorite class or course in school? Anatomy and physiology. I love the human body and the way our bodies will heal ourselves, give birth and how it all works together and communicates.

What is something you would like for others to know about your line of work? We care. So many people go to the doctor and they only go when they’re sick and then when they end up going, they feel like they aren’t cared about. The beauty of a nurse practitioner is the caring attitude and wanting to help others.

What would you like for others to know about UTHealth that you’ve learned from working here? It’s a great place. The people that I work with, either they’ve been here forever, left and come back, or there’s a great opportunity for growth and movement within the organization. It’s a great place and while we’re a big institution, we’re still able to form relationships with other people and departments.

ANGELA M. RUTHERFORD, M.S.N., R.N.

When did you join UTHealth? I started at UTHealth in September of 2013. My sister used to work here and she was telling me how much she loved UTHealth and what a great job it was. She told me about the clinic and I thought it was a great opportunity.

What does a day on the job look like for you? Usually very busy. Most of the time I’m taking care of patients, checking labs, making phone calls and interacting with the staff here in the clinic. We get to spend time with our patients and we also precept nurse practitioner students here, so most of the time I have students with me. That’s an aspect that I enjoy - to give back with the clinical side of teaching.

What is your greatest accomplishment so far personally or professionally? I would have to say my family.

What is the greatest life lesson you’ve learned from this job or in life? You never stop learning. Every day you’re learning something new and if you stop learning, you’re giving up a great opportunity to explore.

What is your favorite thing about your job? I like the people I work with and the patients, too. I love helping people, that’s why I got in to health care was for the people to take care of them. I was a nurse at 22 and I knew this is what I wanted to do.

What is something very few people know about you? I can’t sing or dance, but I can bowl! I was state bowling champion my eighth grade year. I probably stink now but one of my friends’ family was in a bowling league and they invited me to come along. So I started going, got on a team and started to win.

What is your greatest adventure so far? I’m looking forward to traveling once our kids have grown up and left the house. When you have three kids, life is always an adventure, just a different kind of adventure.

What was your favorite class or course in school? I loved chemistry. It clicked with me and it was easy and interesting to me. It was fun to set up and observe the different experiments in class. I’m always a hands-on and technical person, which is why I like having students in the clinic. I think that’s where my strength is in teaching real life experiences to our students.

What is something you would like for others to know about your line of work? Nurse practitioners are awesome and good listeners. We really try to take the time to listen to our patients’ concerns and take good care of them.

What you would like for others to know about UTHealth that you’ve learned from working here? It’s a great place to work and a great place to come and receive health care. We here in the Texas Medical Center are on the cutting edge of healthcare and medicine and we’re accomplishing great things each year and every day.

UT Health Services is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit the UTHealth Services website for more information or call 713-500-3267 to schedule an appointment. Same-day appointments may be available.