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Community Health Centers

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Community health centers, also known as Federally Qualified Health Centers, were founded more than 50 years ago during President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty and initially came to Arkansas thanks to Gov. Dale Bumpers’ advocacy for preventive medical care in the Delta. 

Today, this model of care has evolved into the largest, and most successful, primary health care system in the nation. Consumer-driven and patient-centered, these organizations serve America’s most underserved communities by integrating critical medical and social services such as oral health, mental health, substance abuse, case management and translation under one roof.

In 2015, Community Health Centers of Arkansas saved the state’s health care system about $235 million annually through effective patient management and a reduction in the need for costlier care such as hospitalizations and emergency room visits.

There are more than 235 full-time nurses employed in community health centers in Arkansas wherein they play a vital role delivering care to patients.

“Community health centers rarely face difficulties with recruiting registered nurses compared to recruiting physicians,” CHCA chief executive officer LaShannon Spencer said. “Many community health centers have fostered great relationships with the numerous nursing schools around the state, which allows nursing students to do their clinical within a community health setting.”

Nurses who make the decision to practice in a community health center tend to be very compassionate, offer selfless acts of kindness and have a greater understanding and empathy for patients who reside within rural communities.

“Nurses are the connection between physicians and patients,” Spencer said. “Nurses often serve as patient advocates when communicating the needs of the patient to physicians. They play an important organizational role in the care of patients, which can help prevent complications.”

Over the past few years, the nursing industry has expanded to include nursing research, practice and theory. Also, the nursing profession has developed numerous types of educational programs that have resulted in more nurses receiving a bachelor, master’s or even a doctoral degree. Community health centers employ nurses with different education and professional backgrounds to fit their staffing model as well as meet patient needs.

“I was once told if you want to be great then solve great problems,” Spencer said. “Nurses walk into health care facilities every day and perform miracles.”n

 

Nursing Notes

“Always remember why you wanted to be a nurse in the first place. When you are tired and worn out, the patient call light keeps going off, and you just can’t go another second, remind yourself about why you are a nurse. Being a nurse is a calling and a privilege.”

Stephanie Thompson, MNSc, APRN, FNP-BC, student
UAMS College of Nursing
Years in Nursing: 18

 

Stephanie Thompson, MNSc, APRN, FNP-BC
 
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