Being one of only two pediatric health care providers in an entire county would seem like an overwhelming job, but for Cheryl Sinclair it’s a privilege to care for her community’s children.
Being one of only two pediatric health care providers in an entire county would seem like an overwhelming job, but for Cheryl Sinclair it’s a privilege to serve as a primary care provider for her community’s children.
Sinclair is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in Valencia County located just south of Albuquerque with a population just over 72,000. Depending on the day, Sinclair can see up to 24 patients and the variety of patients is never lacking.
"I see a lot of different cases," said Sinclair. "The other day I saw 2 and 4-month-old babies for checkups, a 5-year-old special needs patient for a physical, a 10-year-old who had a high fever for five days and was a follow-up to an urgent care visit, a female adolescent who wanted to talk about birth control, a 2-year- old with weight loss and anemia, and a 6-year-old who was kicked in the neck at school and had a ruptured eardrum."
Sinclair works one-on-one with a medical assistant and has four nurses on her team. One of the biggest points she stresses about being a nurse practitioner is that in New Mexico, nurse practitioners are licensed independently and do not work under doctors.
"We can provide preventative health care, diagnosis and treatment for most childhood illnesses and injuries, and overall support for families,” said Sinclair. “Nurse Practitioners love to listen, too. I think families place high value on having a health care provider that is accessible and can really relate to what is going on with their children."
Access is one of the major reasons Sinclair decided to become a nurse practitioner in New Mexico. She saw there was a need for more access to health care in the state and especially in the more rural areas like Valencia County.
"When I was a school nurse in Belen (a town in Valencia County), I realized there are a large number of kids who do not have access to routine health care," said Sinclair. "I entered the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program at the UNM College of Nursing with the specific intent of becoming a primary care provider in Valencia County."
UNM Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Concentration
Pediatric Nurse Practitioners are registered nurses who have completed advanced education, generally a minimum of a master’s degree. Since nurse practitioners can provide a broad range of health care services, they often serve as a patient’s primary health care provider.
The College of Nursing recommends that prospective students have a minimum two years experience as a pediatric nurse and a strong commitment to serving the health care needs of the children in New Mexico.
Graduates in the concentration learn how to collaborate with other health care professionals to provide comprehensive care to children and their families, and identify those children who require referrals to other health care providers. The concentration also prepares students on how to provide well child care and manage children of all ages who have acute and/or chronic illnesses.
Sinclair said her educational experience at the UNM College of Nursing was incredibly rewarding.
"This was my first experience with UNM, and I was extremely satisfied with the quality of my education," said Sinclair. "The faculty was generous with their knowledge and time, and went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure my success."