by James Coburn – staff writer
Kelly Johnson brings a detective-like problem solving approach to all her patients as an independent Advanced Practice Registered Nurse serving Payne County and Logan County. Research is one of Johnson’s hallmarks as a nurse practitioner.
Her unwavering drive was sparked from personal experience during her father’s illness when he was misdiagnosed with cancer. It further galvanized her desire for a career in health care.
She tries to be proactive rather than reactive, Johnson said of taking a preventative approach to wellness care. She was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, and began her career working as a habilitation specialist with individuals who experienced both developmental disability and mental illness (dual-diagnosed). (story continues below)
Her career began in Ohio where she decided that if she was ever a director of nursing that she would not base her effort on a culture of fear. One place she began working at early in her career was Golden Age Nursing Facility in Guthrie.
It was there that she discovered, while working as an LPN, that there is a world of difference. She found there to be a sense of shared governance and kindness filtering among employees and the ownership of the family-owned business, she said.
In her current role as an APRN, Kelly cares for many elderly patients in skilled and long-term care settings.
“My visits include treating illnesses, as well as monitoring skilled needs,” Johnson said. “Routinely I monitor their medications, labs, treatments, and all of their skilled needs. Everything is monitored to make sure patients have the best possible outcome. I’ll do visits with acute patients, sometimes skilled visits if they go into a skilled facility. I check their medication. I check their labs to make sure their labs are in range. I make sure if they’ve got medications that require therapeutic checks, that we do that as often as needed.”
Johnson makes sure patients in need of breathing treatments have them on hand, and whether they need to be hospitalized again for a recurrent pneumonia, among other co-morbidities.
Wounds are monitored to prevent infection, anything a patient’s skilled need requires, she said.
“We (nurse practitioners) try to monitor everything closely to make sure we don’t have issues,” Johnson said.
She checks routine lab work for long-term care individuals. Johnson makes sure they have their routine scans that are required are up to date.
Johnson is driven to share knowledge with whomever she is in contact, whether staff or patients. With deep respect for pharmacology, she is very conscientious in prescribing compatible medications that do not cause otherwise adverse effects to her patients.
When Johnson served as director of nursing for Golden Oaks Village in Stillwater, she was encouraged by the staff to become a nurse practitioner. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree with honors at Oklahoma City University’s Kramer School of Nursing in 2015.
“I really liked Kramer,” she said.
Johnson completed course work in the fast-track RN to BSN at Kramer, and in 2018 graduated from East Tennessee University with her Master of Science in Nursing degree with an emphasis on being a nurse practitioner. Her clinical preceptor hours were with local physicians in Stillwater and Perkins.
“I had to have 580 clinical hours in mental health and women’s health, geriatrics and pediatrics,” she said.
One of the benefits of having a nurse practitioner is the time they spend with their patients.
“That is just what you do as a nurse,” Johnson said.
A career nurse often has those comforting characteristics of offering holistic care. Nurse practitioners develop that side of themselves. So, growing numbers of people appreciate having a nurse practitioner on their side as a provider.
“I do not discount doctors at all. I do not consider myself a doctor by any means,” Johnson said. “They have had a lot more schooling.”
Johnson provides the same level of attention to every patient, said CC Crane, marketing director of Golden Oaks Village.
“Each patient is treated as if he or she were the only one. There’s not one to whom she gives less or more effort to,” Crane said. “That’s what I see. She’s exceptionally dedicated and committed.”
As a nurse practitioner, Johnson said she sees increased amounts of longevity among the staff of family-owned businesses.
“It seems like they are a lot more compassionate and caring,” she said.
Some older people reach a certain age and become stagnant, she said. But Johnson helps them to reach their personal best by improving the health of every part of their lives.
“I love to enhance their quality of life,” she said.