This quarter’s Frontier Nursing University featured preceptor, Tami Osborne, PMHNP, was nominated by student Leslie Duff, for her dedication and compassion for the people of Eastern Kentucky.
Here is what Duff had to say about her experience studying under Osborne:
“I was honored to spend several hundred hours working under Tami’s leadership. She has a true passion for improving the stigma of psychiatric mental health that runs deep in Eastern Kentucky. The biggest way she does this is through education. As a daily part of patient care, Osborne educates her patients about the various disease processes and medications. She teaches them genetics, trauma, and other factors that play into a person’s mental health. With each patient, she had the ability to help them see their psychiatric mental health conditions does not make them weak but allows them to grow through their journey.
Osborne is especially dedicated to helping and advocating for those suffering from substance abuse in the region. The care and concern that she offers these patients who are so often stigmatized truly impressed me. As I worked along Osborne, several of her patients in the MAT program at Appalachian Wellness shared with me their recovery stories. I was often told how Osborne helped them realize that they did have the power to overcome substance addiction, and how she gave them the strength they needed to believe they could live a better life. The story I remember most was a young man who lost everything, including custody and visitation rights to his children. He is now over a year clean, working, and able to spend time with his children. Tami truly makes a positive difference in this world, one patient at a time.”
Osborne is a fantastic fit for her career because it is a dream she has had ever since she was a little girl growing up in Eastern Kentucky. “I always knew I wanted to be a nurse,” Osborne says, “it just took some life experience for me to realize the best way I could help my home community.”
Osborne was married young, and after a few years, found herself divorced and living in Lexington, Ky. with three little girls. She attributes fair salaries and the high demand for nurses with helping her get through those years raising her daughters alone.
Osborne attended Eastern Kentucky University as a single mother, where she earned her bachelor’s in nursing. She worked as an aid at the University of Kentucky Hospital, but following graduation, began a new career at Eastern State Hospital, a psychiatric care facility in Lexington.
During the time she was working at Eastern State, Osborne married a wonderful man. Unfortunately, he passed away from a heart attack at a young age within a few years of their marriage. It was after this loss that Osborne decided it was time to return home.
“Eastern Kentucky has always been home to me, I tried to leave, but my heart never really followed. When I was coming to terms with the loss of my husband, I knew the best thing for me was to return to my roots,” Osborne said.
When Osborne returned home, she began working as an administrator within the local prison. Her psychiatric care foundation from Eastern State Hospital played a significant role in supporting her co-workers and the incarcerated persons in her new role.
Osborne said that psychiatric-mental health was always the nursing sector that interested her the most, so, on her 50th birthday, with her girls grown up, Osborne decided to go back to school to become a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP).
Shortly after finishing her degree, a past co-worker from the prison reached out. He was now the Juniper Health System CEO and wanted to hire Osborne as their first PMHNP.
In her current role, Osborne travels to five different Eastern Kentucky counties throughout the week, helping to break generational patterns of trauma that are unfortunately far too common in the region.
Osborne is especially passionate about treating women who have experienced trauma.
“I see so many women who were abused as children and then find themselves with one abusive partner after another. Unfortunately, this cycle continues as they have children of their own. They simply don’t know anything else,” Osborne said.
Although Osborne often only sees these women briefly for short medication appointments, she does everything she can in that time to uplift her patients and let them know there are other options.
“I will constantly correct negative self-talk and work to help them establish positive thoughts about themselves. I work on debriefing, grounding, and attempt to coach through fear-based issues. I am currently taking multiple continuing education units (CEU’s) on trauma so that I can continue to help women in these difficult situations,” Osborne said.
In addition to helping grown women, Osborne also works with high numbers of adolescents and teens overcoming trauma and neglect, cares for 30 medicated-assistant treatment (MAT) patients on their journey to overcoming addiction, and continues to step in at the prison whenever there is a need.
“My job is difficult, and I work a lot of hours, but that is because there is so much need in this community,” Osborne said. “I love the people of Eastern Kentucky, and I will always put my all into helping them overcome obstacles.”
Osborne is one of a limited number of PMHNPs in the area. Due to the lack of psychiatric care in Eastern Kentucky, precepting offers Osborne a look into a hopeful future for the region.
“I host three or four students at a time. All but one of them have been from Eastern Kentucky and plan on returning to the area to serve after graduation,” Osborne said. “Having this opportunity to bring new nurses to our region is critical work to me.”
Osborne enjoys many aspects of precepting and says she truly appreciates working with the students and listening to their ideas.
According to Osborne, the students always have great ideas and different approaches. She loves having multiple perspectives to learn from and to collaborate with one another.
“Eastern Kentucky will always be my home. I think it is the most beautiful place on earth, with the most genuine people you could ever meet. I am completely invested in advocating for these people and providing them with resources. Because this area has had fewer opportunities than many regions, there can be a lack of trust in professionals and outsiders. It is my goal that the people of Eastern Kentucky know that I have their backs.”
Thank you Tami for your hard work and dedication in bringing mental health resources to Eastern Kentucky. You are making positive changes that will impact these communities for decades to come.
FNU is always looking for preceptors like Osborne who will step up to the plate and educate the next generation of nurses. For more information on becoming a preceptor for FNU students, visit our preceptor page.