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Growing up with a mother who is a nurse, Cara Nachbor knew she wanted a career in health care. She expanded her commitment by earning a degree as a Certified Family Nurse Practitioner.

New challenges at SCMC

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By Tom Larson

Sun Tribune

Cara Nachbor was a college student when she learned about the potential for a career as a Certified Family Nurse Practitioner.

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She wasn't aware that would become her calling, but her life in medicine was all but predestined by that point.

Nachbor is in her second month as a nurse practitioner at Stevens Community Medical Center.

She came to SCMC in early April after two years in that position at Prairie Medical Associates, and is working under Dr. Joan Goering, SCMC's Internal Medicine specialist.

Nachbor, a Herman native and a 1994 graduate of Herman-Norcross High School, is the daughter of Franchetta Haupert, a Public Health Nurse with Stevens Traverse Grant Public Health.

"I always knew nursing was what I was going to do," Nachbor said.

After high school, Nachbor enrolled in the four-year nursing program at the College of St. Benedict, in St. Joseph, Minn. She earned her bachelor of science degree in 1998 and worked as a floor nurse in Wheaton from 1998 to 2003, then moved to SCMC.

In October 2002, about the time she began working at Prairie Medical Associates, Nachbor also began work on a masters degree in the Certified Family Nurse Practitioner program at South Dakota State University. The bulk of her degree was completed via on-line courses while she continued to work and raise her young family -- Sean, now 9 years old, Ethan, 6, and Brody, 2-1/2 -- with husband, Jeff Nachbor.

She had long been preparing to pursue a nurse practitioner position and SDSU's program made it possible.

"I knew I was going to do it, it was just a matter of when I would do it and where I would do it," Nachbor said.

Nachbor earned her masters degree in 2006, and making the adjustment from nurse to nurse practitioner was a learning process, as well. She had to make diagnoses, order tests and prescribe medications.

"A nursing career has a lot of responsibilities, too, but the first few months were a lot different," she said.

A benefit to her new position was spending more time with patients and working with them on more comprehensive education about their conditions and treatments.

Goering worked with Nachbor at SCMC when she was a nursing student and seeing patients as part of her training.

"It's nice to have Cara here," said Goering. "She's able to fill in in Internal Medicine when I'm doing procedures. With a nurse practitioner, there's a lot of updating on patients and I think we're giving a lot better care for the patient."

SCMC did not have nurse practitioners when Goering arrived in 1998. Paige McNally, SCMC's Certified Nurse Midwife, came to SCMC in 2003, which was "the first big step" to integrating nurse practitioners into the medical center Goering said.

"It's nice to have Cara there as a support," Goering said. "If I've seen a patient and made an adjustment to their (blood pressure) medication and they need a follow-up, they can see Cara and I can see the next patient. I think she's going to be pretty goshdarn busy, too."

Nachbor's work as a nurse practitioner ties in well with her experiences as a nurse and the reasons she chose a career in health care.

"It's about knowing that you are there for people and that you can help them for the best," Nachbor said. "When we see people, we see them at their worst -- they're often very ill and need help. When you see them back at their best and they're thriving, that's really gratifying."

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