November 8, 2013
13-333

Jessica Pope
Communications Specialist

VSU Celebrates Nurse Practitioner Week Nov. 10-16

VALDOSTA — Brian A. Elliott, 44, first became interested in a career in nursing as a senior at Colquitt County High School in Moultrie, Ga. He graduated in 1987, took a couple of years off, and then entered Darton State College, earning an Associate of Science in Nursing in 1992.

Elliott spent the next 12 years working as a staff nurse and clinical coordinator for CareOne Home Health and as a staff nurse at Colquitt Regional Home Care Services, both in Moultrie. He currently serves as the director of Colquitt Regional Oncology Services, a position he has held since 2005; he earned certification as an oncology nurse from the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation in 2010.

“Connecting with patients on a personal level has always been my passion and is what drives me to remain in this very challenging field,” he said. “There’s a unique satisfaction in being able to provide quality care and genuine caring to someone in need. People really do want to know that you truly care for them and about them.”

Elliott returned to school in June 2009, entering Valdosta State University’s College of Nursing and gradually working toward a Bachelor of Science in Nursing — while also working full time and raising a family. He said he always knew that he wanted to further his education.

“I, unfortunately, procrastinated …,” he explained. “Once I found the motivation, I seemed to hit roadblocks in trying to decide where to pursue my education.”

Elliott said he talked to a friend, Tammy Dennis, a nursing instructor at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Ga. She encouraged him to look at what is now known as the Registered Nurse Preference Pathway Program at VSU — which would allow him to either pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or go straight for a Master of Science Nursing.

In June 2012, Elliott switched programs, choosing to pursue the Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Program track leading to a Master of Science in Nursing, rather than a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

“Once in the program at VSU,” he said, “the great professors in the College of Nursing encouraged me to build upon my desire to care for patients” and to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner. He expects to graduate in May 2014 and pursue additional certification in his chosen field.   

“My goal as a nurse practitioner is to continue to provide quality, compassionate care from a ‘hometown boy’ for my family, friends, and residents of Colquitt and surrounding counties as the demand for providers continues to expand,” he added. “God has planted the desire, and the VSU College of Nursing, along with our local physicians and nurse practitioner clinical sites, are equipping me with a top-notch education to fulfill that calling.”

Elliott was raised in Doerun, Ga. His mother, Betty Elliott, and father and step-mother, George and Donna Elliott, still live there. He lives in Moultrie with his wife of 22 years, Jenny Jones Elliott, and 11-year-old daughter, Anna Beth Elliott. He is an active member of the Moultrie Oncology Support Team and First Assembly of God Church, where he plays in The Wilderness Voices, a bluegrass gospel group.

“I cannot express enough appreciation to my family, friends, co-workers and administration at Colquitt Regional for their patience and understanding while I have been pursuing my degree at VSU,” he shared. “Family relationships — natural family, extended family, church family, and work family — are the most important parts of my life. Without these relationships, nothing else really matters in comparison.”

Elliott won the silver medal for Best Nurse in Colquitt County, part of The Moultrie Observer’s Best of the Best Awards, in 2010; Georgia Hospital Association’s Georgia Hospital Hero Award, also in 2010; and Cure Magazine Extraordinary Healer Award in 2007. He was nominated for the Colquitt Regional Medical Foundation’s Walter E. Harrison Jr. M.D. Humanitarian Award in 2012 and 2013 and the Colquitt Regional Medical Center Nurse of the Year Award in 2007.   

National Nurse Practitioner Week 2013

Between Sunday, Nov. 10, and Saturday, Nov. 16, VSU will celebrate National Nurse Practitioner Week, a time “to celebrate the wonderful work of nurse practitioners across the nation, build awareness around the critical role of the nurse practitioner, and remind lawmakers of the importance of allowing nurse practitioners to practice to the full extent of their experience and education,” said Dr. J. Myron Faircloth, an assistant professor in VSU’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences and a board certified family nurse practitioner.

VSU’s Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Program prepares advanced practice nurses as primary care providers to manage the health of individuals and families from 13 years of age and up. The program places an emphasis on health promotion, illness prevention, and management of acute and chronic illness; provides leadership; and promotes use of evidence-based practice in the delivery of quality health care services for adults and their families. Graduates are prepared to be recognized as advanced practice nurses by the Board of Nurse Examiners and to take certification exams.

Nationally, the first nurse practitioners were educated at the University of Colorado in 1965. VSU’s nurse practitioner program was started in 2007, Faircloth said.

Nurse practitioners practice in rural, urban, and suburban communities, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. They practice in many types of settings, including clinics, hospitals, emergency rooms, urgent care sites, private physician or nurse practitioner practices, nursing homes, schools, colleges, and public health departments. Nurse practitioners specialize in many areas, such as family health or oncology or mental health, and they often practice in sub-specialty areas, such as dermatology or neurology or sports medicine.

VSU was authorized by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia to offer a nursing program in 1967, effective fall quarter of 1968. Development of the program was facilitated by a request from the leaders of Pineview General Hospital, which later became South Georgia Medical Center, for help preparing registered nurses for the region.

The College of Nursing and Health Sciences at VSU offers several different academic programs, including bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing. The Master of Science in Nursing degree prepares students for advanced nursing practice and to be leaders in the nursing profession. VSU offers three advanced nursing tracks of study: an Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Program, a Clinical Nurse Leader Program, and a Family Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program.

VSU’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences is currently located in S. Walter Martin Hall, 1300 N. Patterson St., but will relocate to the new Health Sciences and Business Administration Building at the intersection of Patterson Street and Pendleton Drive in the spring. Call (229) 333-5959, visit http://www.valdosta.edu/colleges/nursing-and-health-sciences/ or email nursing@valdosta.edu to learn more.

Nurse Practitioner Facts

• Nurse practitioners are expert clinicians with advanced training who provide primary, acute, and specialty health care.

• Nurse practitioners offer high-quality, cost-effective, patient-centered health care.

• Nurse practitioners provide a full range of services, such as ordering, performing, and interpreting diagnostic tests; diagnosing and treating acute and chronic conditions; prescribing medications and treatments; and managing overall patient care.

• Patients whose primary care providers are nurse practitioners have fewer emergency room visits and shorter hospital stays, resulting in lower out-of-pocket costs.

• Nurse practitioners emphasize the health and well-being of the whole person in their approach, including helping patients make educated health care decisions and healthy lifestyle choices.

Source: American Association of Nurse Practitioners