Colleges and Schools

Alumna Profile: Kim Wilson

Kim WilsonMSN: Family Nurse Practitioner

North Park University (NPU) graduate Kim Wilson, MS ‘10, has always had a knack for efficiency. As a single mother working full time, the alumna had to figure out how to meet her career goals in a way that allowed time for family and her then profession as a director of nursing at a Chicago nursing home.

Years later, Wilson is using her talent for empathy-driven solutions to run and staff KareFirst, the largest nurse practitioner-owned health care management group. Wilson got the idea while working as a nurse practitioner fresh out of NPU’s program. A friend from her prior years as a registered nurse asked Wilson if she could fill in for their nursing home’s nurse practitioner position and Wilson agreed—on the condition she could bill for her own patient visits.

“It was like a spark that came from heaven like a zip, zip, zip, in my head,” Wilson said.

North Park students were encouraged to run different modalities in classes, meaning they modeled how health care systems could interact with one another. While working for the nursing home, Wilson noticed the need for the kind of top-down care that nurse practitioners could provide.

“I knew what was important to nursing homes and that was compliance with state and federal regulations to keep readmission rates down. In a way, the nursing home residents and the whole facility were both my patients.”

Now, Wilson manages 60 nurse practitioners across 10 states. The nurses work in nursing homes to improve the systems and environments of the facility. Instead of treating only one ailment or individual, Wilson said KareFirst nurses can see the impact of their work over time.

KareFirst often hires from North Park because of the quality of North Park’s approach to teaching, where Wilson said students were encouraged to be creative when confronted with problems or frustrations in their studies.

“I find North Park grads are more capable of thinking on their feet. When things go not as predicted they have a stronger ability to problem solve in real time.”

Wilson attributes this quality to North Park’s teaching method where students would help teach their peers during classes. According to her, students would take turns teaching and researching diseases or body systems.

While Wilson said her education at North Park was invaluable, she encourages current and future students to pay close attention in NPU’s Professional Communication and Collaboration course (NURS 5030) to better understand medical billing and diagnostic codes.

“If you have any electives, I’d suggest taking a simple business course. Look where it can get you.”

Alumna Profile: Roshani Patel

Roshani PatelMSN: Family Nurse Practitioner

Roshani Patel has a message for nurses considering going back to school: “If I can do it, anyone can.” By the time Roshani applied to North Park’s MSN: Family Nursing Practitioner program, she had four kids and had been out of school for ten years.

She was intimidated at first by the idea of applications and returning to the classroom. “Honestly, I was very hesitant because I hate writing papers,” Roshani said. She decided to give North Park a shot; she’d take one class and see how it went. The admissions process was “easy to manage.” Within a few weeks of deciding to pursue the program, she was in her first class. The class went so well that she decided to pursue it full throttle, taking three or four classes at a time.

“The class size was small enough that I didn’t get lost. All the professors were excellent and accessible,” said Roshani. The students who were in her classes throughout the program provided a system of support and solidarity. And she would need it—in addition to managing her family and nursing on the weekend, halfway through one semester she ended up having a major surgery.

After two and a half years of study, she completed her master’s degree in 2012 and immediately landed a job as a nurse practitioner in a private family practice. For Roshani, this was the beginning of a whole new career in nursing. And she was able to walk right into the role—no shadowing, no training. “I remember the first day on the job, the doctor said, ‘This is the chart, and there’s your patient.’ I was serving patients completely independent of him,” Roshani said. “The education and experience at North Park equipped me to do that. I was on my own, and I was able to pick up and go right away.”

Roshani is now with a company doing in-home visits with the elderly and chronically ill. Her North Park degree opened up doors in nursing with further flexibility to meet the needs of her family. “A lot of nurses considering this program might not have gone to school in such a long time, and it’s scary initially,” Roshani said. “If I could do it with four kids, and a major surgery in the middle, no one else should be scared. My only regret is that I wish I would have done it sooner.”