story by Van Mitchell, Contributing Writer
Carly Waren thought she was on a career path that would lead her to become a funeral home director.
Those plans changed, when she decided that the medical field was her true calling. She has been a full-time Family Nurse Practitioner at Perkins Primary Care since April 2016.
“All through high school I worked for a family-owned funeral home in Perry,” Waren said. “I (also) worked there my first two years of college, and I fell in love with the funeral business. I loved working with families. I actually thought about going to school to be a funeral director before deciding (on medicine).”
Waren received her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from University of Oklahoma 2003 and her Masters of Science in Nursing from University of Colorado 2010. Prior to operating her own clinic, she worked in the Labor and Delivery and Emergency Departments at Norman Regional for six years, worked as clinical nurse educator and Emergency Department Manager at Perry Memorial Hospital for four years, was a nurse practitioner at Community Medical Clinic for three years and worked as Hospitalist at Hillcrest Medical Center in Cushing for two years. (story continues below)
Waren was raised in the Stillwater/Perry area. She and her husband, Rocky, who works as the operations manager at NGL Energy Partners in Cushing, have 3 children.
Waren said while living in Perry, her husband commuted to work in Cushing. She said the family needed to move closer to his job.
“He really needed to be closer, and we knew we didn’t want to be in Cushing, because we wanted something a little smaller,” she said. “We really liked Perkins, and that is where we ended up. We love this community that we live in. It is a great community.”
Waren said Stillwater Medical Center was interested in opening a clinic in Perkins, and approached her about operating it.
“We really saw a need,” she said. “Everybody was driving to Stillwater or Cushing to have their primary care needs. I was approached by Stillwater (Medical Center), and they were interested in opening a clinic here in Perkins.”
Waren said the Perkins clinic has been growing.
“It has been building, and going strong ever since,” she said. “We see anywhere from 20 to 30 patients a day. We love it here. It is a great community to be in.”
Waren said being a Family Nurse Practitioner allows her to be a patient’s primary care provider.
“I can essentially do most tasks that a physician can do (in a clinic setting), but in the state of Oklahoma we have to have a supervising physician to be able to write prescriptions,” she said. “I have the same ability to diagnose and treat that a family practice doctor does.”
Waren said the number of Nurse Practitioners in Oklahoma has risen since she began her career.
“When I started 12 or 13 years ago, there weren’t enough Nurse Practitioners around for me to do my clinical rotations with,” she said. “I did all my around physicians.”
Waren said Nurse Practitioners are helping fill a gap, especially in the rural areas.
“There is a severe shortage of family practice doctors,” she said. “A lot of medical students are wanting to specialize in a certain field, and it has left a huge gap in family physicians. In a lot of ways, there is a need, and that is where we have come in and filled a void. There is a need there for those patients to be treated. I think it is important to have access to care. You have a lot of patients that don’t have the means to drive 20 miles away. We have some patients that walk here, or ride their bike here. It is important that they have someone here local that they know and get taken care of.”
Waren said the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the nursing field.
“I think there has been a large number of nurses with burnout,” she said. “With COVID-19, especially, it has been a really difficult two years here in Oklahoma.”
She added COVID also impacted how her clinic operated.
“It definitely impacted our clinic,” she said. “We tried really hard from the beginning to wade through this, and do the best for our patients. We figured a way to make it work. We have done more tele-medicine than we have ever done at our clinic.”
Waren enjoys spending time with her family, and also unwinds by cooking.
“I love to cook,” she said. “I have always said that if I did anything else, that would be it.”