Day in and day out, my business partner and I would vent to each other about our day and our frustrations with our current healthcare system and its impact on the role of the Nurse Practitioner (NP) and our patients. We were frustrated with the fragmented patient care, the lack of respect, and limitations associated with the NP role and Advanced Practice Provider (APP) roles. Across the healthcare system APP’s functioned in different ways. For example, some NPs or APPs were given full practice autonomy when it came to prescribing medications, including narcotics, while others had limited abilities due to maximum physician oversight. Despite working with the physician to improve access to care, patient outcomes, and the patient experience, oftentimes, APP’s were not recognized for their efforts. For instance, although APP’s were held accountable for improving the quality of care and patient experience, only the physicians received bonuses for how well their practice performed.
An APP council was created to advocate for the APP role, to help promote change across the system, and to mentor and support APP’s system wide. But, we all know how long it takes for changes to happen, especially when you're dealing with a culture that has been built around a physician mentality. I even asked my manager for statistics on my patient’s satisfaction and experience with my care, only to find out that those numbers did not exist for the NP in the acute care setting, the hospital data was based on the physician’s care only. On the other hand, my partner Sharee did not have the same experience, she received data on the care she provided, which helped guide and mold her practice. I knew my patients loved the care they received from me because they would express it to me, but I had no way to prove it. We both felt invisible and disposable.
My business partner and I learned early on that we dealt with the same frustrations and shared the same values when it came to nursing and patient care. We became nurses to heal, educate, and cure communities, and to also guide our patients to be their best self physically, mentally and emotionally. In 2019, Sharee came to me and stated, “We should start our own practice!” I responded, “Can we do that?” And Sharee answered, “Of course, We CAN!” The nurse practitioner role has evolved across the country to the point where some patients prefer seeing a NP as their primary provider because they feel cared for, listened to, and trust us as providers. You also have 28 states across the country that have recognized the nurse practitioner role as a high quality provider and have given them full practice authority. That means they can practice in those states without having to be supervised by a physician. We researched communities where we could make a huge impact on patient access and care and obtained our license in the great state of Washington, D.C.
So, the next question was, what is our passion? We both had a passion for Men’s & Women’s Health Services, especially sensitive health needs, such as sexual health. With HIV and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) on the rise, and gaps in knowledge on sexual health practices, we saw this as a great opportunity to impact patient outcomes, satisfaction, and the health of communities. We wanted to provide health services to patients that would educate, uplift, treat, and decrease negative outcomes to increase sexual pleasure and to stop the spread of STDs because YOUR SEXUAL HEALTH MATTERS! Poor sexual health practices can impact one emotionally, mentally, and physically and we want everyone to know that YOUR SEXUAL HEALTH MATTERS! Also, that having an STD or problems in the bedroom, is nothing to be ashamed of! Prevention is key and we all need to be talking about it!
We truly believe in meeting people where they are and decided to increase access to sexual health services through a virtual platform. This way, our patients can be seen in the comfort of their own home, and can save time by not having to wait hours in a waiting room. We also both valued having a provider that we could relate to. Because we are two African American females and identify with the LGBTQ community, we felt it was a great opportunity to reach out to patients who identify with us. We have built a practice that encompasses the little things we value: To serve patients from all backgrounds where all feel welcomed, to offer all patients no less than 30 minutes with their provider to allow ample time for them to express their concerns and not feel rushed, and to provide private consults from the comfort of our patient’s homes, cars, or work life. Needless to say, after a year of researching, planning, testing, and creating Beyond|Med Telehealth, we were beyond excited to go live and begin providing care to patients the way we felt they deserved. We found a way to solve the frustrations we were feeling, but more importantly, built a system that benefits our patients in all aspects of their needs.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. We look forward to caring for you whenever you need us!