Today (Oct. 31) Bruce (Nick) Burnett DNP, ARNPC will walk out of the MMSC State Center Clinic for the last time as a caregiver. Fortunately for his patients, Dr. Nick’s replacement, Amanda (Mandy) George, DNP, ARNPC, is already onboard and has seen most patients at least once in the past 18 months. In addition, the office has three experienced nurses: Barb, Leslie and Linda, who assist with patient care, as well as two front office staff, Megan and Casey.
When Dr. Nick came to the clinic in Nov. 1997 he worked with Dr. Ray Robinson. Dr. Nick’s goal was to continue the local health care so people wouldn’t have to leave the community to get the help they needed. Dr. Nick says through the years that goal morphed into providing a work environment that was positive and affirming for the staff, as well.
“We really work as a team. We’re very tight, like family. Our mission is to care for people and care for the people who care for people,” says Dr. Nick. “In the recruitment of Mandy, I was looking for someone with a small-town background, but no one seemed to fit with our community until Mandy came along,” says Dr. Nick. “I went through three months of anxiety waiting, but she came. It was a careful, well-sculpted plan and she has not disappointed. I knew both sets of her grandparents from Nevada, and I knew she’d be reliable. I just didn’t know how reliable she would be! She has exceeded my expectations. Mandy achieved a doctorate before it was required of a nurse practitioner and that shows her desire to be at the top of the game. It confirms my faith in her and that I’m leaving my patients in good hands.”
“We couldn’t do it without our staff,” adds Dr. Mandy. “I’m going to miss Nick. He’s been a wonderful colleague and mentor and I’ll be sad to see him leave. But, I don’t think our patients will see much of a change.”
However, Dr. Nick’s life will change. He is leaving a job he has loved but he isn’t packing up his medical experience and putting it on a shelf. Instead, all of his practice and knowledge is going to help mold future nurse practitioners. In August, Dr. Nick began an online position with Georgetown University, supervising the work of students in their family nurse practitioner clinical rotation. He evaluates their clinical work, grades papers and provides personal guidance that only a veteran nurse practitioner can. He spends eight to 12 hours a week in his teaching role, finding it both challenging and rewarding.
He does hope to include plenty of family time and fun activity in his retirement, especially horseback riding. He’s already scheduled a weekly ride with several friends. His daughter and family live nearby, so he’ll be teaching his granddaughters, ages 11 and eight, to ride on Friday afternoons. He will be home to get the girls on the bus in the morning and meet them after school. Eventually Dr. Nick hopes there will be time for traveling with his wife Toni. She is thinking of retiring next summer. Their son is in medical school at the University of Iowa.
As the news of Dr. Nick’s retirement spread through the community (thanks in part to a heartfelt letter he wrote to his patients) Dr. Nick has received some very touching feedback. One 18-year-old girl told Dr. Nick how disappointed she was in his retirement. She said, “I wanted you to care for my children like you took care of me.” Another 12-year-old rolled his wheelchair into the door of Dr. Nick’s office and said, “You’re making the biggest mistake of your life.” Dr. Nick asked, “How’s that?” The boy answered, “You’re retiring! You’re the best doctor I’ve ever had.” Dr. Nick replied with a laugh, “Well, you’ve only had two.”
It’s those children that Dr. Nick will miss the most. He’s watched them grow up and helped them be successful in school. He has also enjoyed partnering with the school to help children with behavioral issues or medical concerns. Once Dr. Nick received a call from a custodial parent who explained the teacher wanted the child’s behavioral medication raised. Dr. Nick called the guidance counselor and asked if they would do an evaluation of the student in the classroom. A day or so later Dr. Nick got a call from the school. “We observed him and he was fidgeting in his seat because his legs don’t reach the floor. We’ll have the custodian make a footstool for him.” Through collaboration they were able to resolve the student’s problem without raising the boy’s medication.
“It just shows what happens when we ask questions and find out what the problem is before we start looking for a solution,” explained Dr. Nick.
Every community is unique in its need for patient care. “Everyone is related, it seems, and everybody knows everybody else. We’re ag-oriented here, so we have those common risks. Some health problems pass through several generations. It’s good to know what concerns exist,” says Dr. Nick.
“The best part about this area is the quality of the people. Take Marvin Edwards for example. He is a wonderful person and everyone in the community knows him and watches out for him because they care. That’s the essence of this community. If we all would do the same for everyone there would be a rush on moving into the community.”
Dr. Nick has seen many changes in his field during the past two decades. He’s glad to say that he sees a lot fewer smokers and tobacco users than when he started. “The medical field is using better methods of controlling hypertension and diabetes - even though the ideal goals are getting tighter and tighter. People are doing a better job of taking care of themselves.
Obesity is still a big issue but there have been a lot of positive changes in our community, such as the addition of Paul Dunn’s gym in town.”
“To my patients, I feel very fortunate that they trusted me to care for them. I hope they will trust Mandy the same way, because I certainly do. She will treat patients with the same integrity and intention and desire as I have,” says Dr. Nick.
The community is invited to help Dr. Nick celebrate his retirement at an open house on Saturday, Nov. 2, 1-4 p.m. at the State Center Community Center, 118 E. Main St., State Center.