The Frontier community is proud to have students and alumni serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the next few weeks, we are committed to sharing their stories in order to provide insight, hope and encouragement. Thank you to all the health care workers who are risking their own well-being daily to serve our nation. Click here to read more stories of courage and dedication.
There have been many stories and statements suggesting that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed life as we know it forever. Regardless of what the future holds, Amanda Dunham, DNP, FNP-C, Class 29, said that the call to serve remains the same.
“I think FNU students and alumni are called to serve and COVID-19 is no exception,” said Amanda, owner of Dr. Dunham Integrative Family Health NP, PLLC, a women’s-centered primary care practice in Clifton Park, N.Y.
“We serve our communities. We take care of patients in need. We advocate for people without a voice. Hopefully, that never changes.”
During the pandemic, Amanda’s small practice in upstate New York has taken steps to broaden its reach and help any in the community in need of care.
“Though we typically reserve Telehealth for established patients, I have opened Telehealth services to anyone in need,” Amanda said.
“Children, women, men and older adults needing prescription refills, evaluation for medical issues and even mental health are encouraged to use our services. I have already seen the negative impact social distancing is having on mental health for many people and I encourage patients to use Telehealth if these services are needed.”
A native of the area, Amanda knows the Clifton Park community well. Her practice is located across the street from the local high school. She maintains employment at a local urgent care center in addition to administering her own practice. She is deeply connected to the community and the needs of her patients.
The only nurse practitioner provider at her primary care practice, Amanda also employs a dual-licensed massage therapist/esthetician and a registered nurse. The resulting collaboration results in what Amanda describes as a “whole-person approach to care.”
“My experience at FNU empowered me to be an entrepreneurial-minded health care provider who is dedicated to serving the local community,” Amanda said. “Our goal was to create a patient-centered practice where people could come feel cared for and at home.”
Amanda had to make quick adjustments to that model by expanding the Telehealth options for patients, hoping to reduce exposure while remaining open for those in need of in-person care.
“We hope these measures can avoid unnecessary trips to emergency departments and urgent care centers where patients may be exposed to COVID-19,” Amanda said. “Telehealth is excellent for discussing lab tests, medication management and even to discuss mental health concerns.”
Mental health is a rising concern as the pandemic persists. Amanda said that many patients are worried about being a “well carrier” and passing the virus on to their families without even knowing they have it. Others are dealing with the stress of home-schooling their children while working from home or feeling trapped by not being able to go out for dinner or exercise.
“I’ve seen a surge of depression from isolation and I think many patients are struggling with anxiety,” Amanda said.
“For many patients, they may have no history of anxiety, so this may be their first time navigating those concerns. Additionally, typical coping mechanisms, such as yoga studios and gyms, may not be available. With our patients, we discuss the importance of social distancing, infection control precautions, and of course, self-care for their physical and emotional well being.”
One potential positive outcome of the pandemic is the exposure in flaws and gaps in the healthcare system in the United States and the identification of solutions. In this the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, COVID-19 is making many more people aware of the quality and value of care nurses provide.
“Full practice authority for nurse practitioners across the nation is a must,” Amanda said. “Patients need access to healthcare and nurse practitioners and nurse-midwives are uniquely qualified to minimize the gap in care, increase access and provide quality healthcare that is affordable. I’ve been so proud of my colleagues who are opening their arms and practices to patients in need.”
Though the circumstances may change, for so many like Amanda, the call to serve never does.
2020: Year of the Nurse and the Midwife
Frontier Nursing University (FNU) is proud to support and join the World Health Organization’s international campaign designating 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.” In recognizing the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, FNU joins the efforts to raise awareness of healthcare shortages in the U.S. and abroad; demonstrate the need for more nurses and nurse-midwives; educate the public of the value of nurses and nurse-midwives in their communities and advocate for access to quality healthcare for every individual.