Kelcy Oesterreich, a family nurse practitioner with SSM Family Medicine Clinic in Mexico, is getting used to her new role. She has been on the job on her own for just a few days after being under the supervision of a consulting physician for the prior 30 days.

Oesterreich's career path was a no-brainer, she said. She is continuing her parents’ legacy in health care. Her father, Tom, is a physician's assistant and her mother, Joy is a nursing manager. Her brother, Kiel, also plans to enter the health care field after recently receiving his bachelor's degree, she said.

"When I was in high school, I shadowed a couple nurse practitioners and was really interested in that role, and that was kind of always my goal going into nursing. I finally got there," she said.

Oesterreich joined the practice of Dr. Diane Jacobi and Regina Hill, another FNP, at 3626 S. Clark St. She is familiar to the SSM Health family as she did several clinical rotations at SSM facilities during her master's program.

"I did clinicals here [in Mexico] most recently, and then at the Holts Summit clinic and in Jefferson City. I had a good experience and as I was nearing the end of my program, I was fortunate enough there was a position available," Oesterreich said.

She is excited to already know a number of her patients from clinical rotations.

A bachelor's degree in nursing is required to become a FNP, Oesterreich said. She took year-round classes for three years to receive her master's in nursing to reach FNP status. Prior to that she was a registered nurse in the neuroscience and intensive care units at University of Missouri Hospital.

Oesterreich participated in a neuroscience internship around halfway through her bachelor's program at MU over the summer of 2013. She was hired as a neuroscience technician after her graduation, where she stayed for about 18 months. She then transferred to the Intensive Care Unit, while still focusing on neuroscience nursing.

"I kind of fell into neuro. It's unfamiliar for a lot of people, but it became my home. I was there the last five years or so," she said.

Oesterreich works full time for Mexico, and is not connected with other agreements SSM has reached with University of Missouri Health Care to provide medical services at practices in Mexico. She is in the office on Mondays and Wednesdays through Fridays.

Oesterreich received her bachelor of science in nursing degree in 2014 from the University of Missouri and took classes for her master's degree in nursing at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Going from neuroscience and the intensive care unit at University Hospital to a family practice is quite a transition, Oesterreich said, but she still will be able to incorporate her neuroscience knowledge into general practice medicine. It was apparent patients who would come to the neuroscience floor for things like strokes didn't have a primary care physician or didn't recognize their risk for strokes, she said.

"I always wanted to be a nurse practitioner, but that was another thing that solidified the need — for primary care in rural areas — for patient education," Oesterreich said.

She doesn't just want to tell patients they have a medical issue and how to fix it, she wants to educate her patients on why they may have a medical issue and how to lessen it or prevent it.

"That's part of the education I provided in the hospital and it was clear there was a big knowledge deficit," she said.

It is the people who work for SSM that drew her to the position, Oesterreich said.

"I really liked my preceptors, the nurse practitioners I got to do my clinicals with. I just really enjoyed the time I got to spend with them," she said.

Her first day went really well and she is getting more comfortable every day in her role, she said. She will see around eight to 10 patients on the days she works and will eventually work up to 15 patients per working day. The learning curve right now is just with the SSM computer systems, she said.

Oesterreich likes the variety of patients she cares for in general practice medicine.

"I've seen babies and an older person back-to-back. I've liked that interaction and kind of getting to just get a little experience in everything," she said. "I want to be able to be a valued member of this team and seeing all the patients that need to be seen."

The practice will be able to return to same-day appointments now that Oesterreich is on staff, she said. That had been difficult with only two providers. Oesterreich said a lot of her appointments are made the same day, and she is glad to be a part of increasing access to timely health care.

cdunlap@gatehousemedia.com