Second in a series on women in health care
By Lynne Braun
I came to Rush over 30 years ago for the practitioner-teacher model, and to this day, I have both a faculty position in the College of Nursing and I practice as a nurse practitioner in the Heart and Vascular Institute.
As a professor in the College of Nursing, I teach most of the cardiovascular science, pharmacology and patient management content to graduate students. I also advise students, have committee responsibilities, and serve as co-investigator on a study funded by the NIH titled, “Reducing Health Disparity in African American Women: Adherence to Physical Activity.”
Maintaining an active clinical practice has always been very important to me. It grounds me, keeps me current in clinical and health care issues, makes me a better educator and researcher, and a credible leader in the national organizations with which I am involved. In my clinical practice, I focus on prevention, as I help my patients lower their risk for cardiovascular disease through lifestyle changes and drug therapies.
Approximately seven years ago, I had the pleasure of opening the Rush Heart Center for Women with Dr. Annabelle Volgman, where we have an interdisciplinary team approach to the care of women at risk for or with heart disease. As part of efforts to educate women about their risk for heart disease, I regularly speak to groups of women in the community often where they congregate, e.g., churches, sorority meetings, etc. Way too many women have remained less knowledgeable about their risk for heart disease, haven’t taken the time to care for themselves, or their concerns and symptoms haven’t been addressed by health care providers.
My advice to women is that they need to learn their risk factors and take measures to reduce their risk, because more women than men die of cardiovascular disease each year. They need to know their numbers (weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, etc.) and what the target values are. They need to eat a heart-healthy diet and exercise almost every day to improve their risk factors and achieve a healthy weight. They need to have a partnership with their health care providers and to feel comfortable that their concerns are being addressed.
Today, health care consumers are more educated than ever, and women especially seek out a variety of options for health care for themselves and for their families. It is well-known that women make the majority of health care decisions within their families. Therefore, I consider it my duty and privilege to help my patients and the women I meet in the community to navigate the health care system and the available resources so that their needs are appropriately met and they are satisfied with the care they receive.
I regularly have the pleasure of working with students, both in the classroom, during online teaching, and in the clinical setting, as well as younger female colleagues. I convey that the nursing profession is not a job; it’s a calling. I tell them that they will become most satisfied if their involvement goes well beyond the hospital or clinic setting. I encourage them to become involved in professional and health care organizations, speaking to lay groups in the community, and to become involved in advocacy activities. I am incredibly busy with these activities, but I love what I do and couldn’t imagine doing anything else!
The Library of Rush University Medical Center is hosting the traveling exhibit from the National Library of Medicine, “Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating American Women Physicians,” through Jan. 28. The exhibit is located in the fourth-floor lobby of the Atrium Building.
Lynne T. Braun, PhD, CNP, is a nurse practitioner with the Rush Heart and Vascular Institute and professor with the Rush University College of Nursing.