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.
Opening a new practice is always exciting, but even in the best of times, it also comes with some uncertainty. Imagine opening a new practice while completing your DNP and amidst the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. That’s what Traci Buran, MSN, FNP, DNP, Class 34 experienced when her practice, Affinity Family Practice, opened on March 2, 2020, in Cheyenne, Wyo.
Traci, who is originally from Ishpeming in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, worked as a registered nurse (RN) for 10 years in dialysis, endoscopy, the emergency department, and outpatient surgery. After earning her family nurse practitioner (FNP) degree from FNU in 2018, she worked part-time in an FNP-led clinic in Cheyenne. The decision to open Affinity Family Practice didn’t come until November 2019 when her practice partner Sheriedan Grannan, FNP, presented the business plan.
“After we talked about mission, vision, values, and goals, and I pondered the business plan at home, I decided to go for it,” Traci said.
“We started working on opening the practice shortly thereafter. It took us about two months to get the practice open, which required a lot of hard work and many long hours. Our soft opening was on March 2nd through the 6th, and then we opened full time on March 9.”
Traci, who is set to graduate from Frontier Nursing University (FNU) with her doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree in June, treats acute and chronic conditions in patients of all ages, and provides primary care services such as Department of Transportation (DOT) physicals, immunizations, minor procedures and point of care tests. Enough former patients followed Traci and Sheriedan to Affinity Family Practice to enable the successful launch of the clinic, even with the uncertainty created by COVID-19.
“The community has been very supportive and excited,” Traci said.
“As a new practice, there is some trepidation amidst the COVID epidemic. When you are trying to advertise and attract new patients, it is very difficult when people are scared to leave their homes, and we do not want to encourage people to go out or into a medical clinic unnecessarily right now. However, we quickly adapted to offering and completing TeleMedicine visits, which has been a great way to bridge the gap for many patients, and we are still able to provide triage and medical guidance over the phone. We are able to swab patients for COVID if needed, and have offered drive up service to prevent the patient from leaving their vehicle or coming into the clinic.”
While fully acknowledging the tragic impact of the pandemic, Traci remains optimistic that better days are ahead and that valuable lessons are being learned.
“Our healthcare system was woefully ill-prepared to deal with something like this,” Traci said.
“However, I do believe that our country and world can and will overcome this crisis, and I have to believe that our political and healthcare leadership will work to do so. I think we need to understand that in the future, more vigilant steps should be taken to remain prepared for the next pandemic, and at the very least, a COVID resurgence in the fall — not only on the national level, but in each community and clinic as well.”
The fact that Affinity Family Practice has enjoyed such a successful launch despite the unforeseen challenges is a testament to the business planning and ongoing marketing of the practice. The ability to adapt to the pandemic and quickly adjust to offering drive-up and TeleMedicine options is indicative of the preparation of Traci and her partners.
“I don’t think that anyone was truly prepared for COVID,” Traci said. “However, FNU did do a great job of instilling evidence-based practice and a sense of community into us as students, and I believe that these two principles combined are very powerful tools in the healthcare setting, especially during a pandemic.”