As a nurse and later a physician assistant, Brenda Vis has spent her career helping fill a gap in the rural medicine setting.
Vis started as a student nurse in 1972 at what would later become Sanford Rock Rapids in Iowa. After completing her registered nurse education at Sioux Valley School of Nursing in 1974, Vis returned to Rock Rapids as a nurse.
She left in 1992 to complete her physician assistant degree and returned in 1993. Vis saw that patients needed better access to local providers. “The providers at that time had many responsibilities, and I felt I could help share the load with them,” she said.
Not long after Vis returned to the facility as a PA, Dr. Paul Boone unexpectedly passed away. Vis spent countless hours seeing patients. She did her best to fill the void left by the doctor’s death, as the sole provider at the facility. Her efforts were recognized at a nationwide level in 1995 when she was presented with the National Healthcare Service Corps Award for Excellence for her services in an underserved community.
New clinic, new opportunity
Brenda Vis came back to the community where she grew up to practice in a rural setting. Although she has a special interest in women’s health, she said providers in small and remote locations need to offer broad care. “Rural medicine providers must be well rounded in all areas of medicine, including pediatrics, cardiology, OB-GYN and geriatrics.” Vis thinks the PA program she completed in North Dakota provided wonderful preparation for her position.
Vis is excited to continue to provide care in the new Sanford Rock Rapids clinic, opening this spring. The clinic was designed around patient-centered care. The concept means providers will be able to more quickly reach a diagnosis and then complete the patient’s plan of care for their recovery at home or for further specialized care if necessary. New equipment and technology will benefit patients and providers.
To prepare for the transition to the new clinic, Vis has increased her schedule to four days a week. “I wanted to better accommodate my patients, and I am looking forward to caring for them in our new setting.”
‘Caring for generations of patients’
Vis finds rewards in providing care in the rural setting. “The blessings from being a physician assistant and working in this area for 46 years are having the privilege of caring for generations of patients,” she said. “Many that I have cared for as infants have become parents themselves, and I am thankful for the opportunity to watch them grow into adulthood and beyond.”
She’s also appreciative of the many partnerships and relationships that have affected patient care. “We have good working relations with the local nursing homes, teaming with them to provide quality health care to residents in our community,” Vis said. “We also work with Public Health and Home Health departments to help meet the needs of the patients in their homes.”
Recent Sanford appreciation award
Brenda Vis recently was awarded the Distinguished Wisdom Keeper Award at the Sanford Health Advance Practice Provider Appreciation event.
Vis, nominated by her co-workers, was honored in front of more than 200 of her peers.
The award recognizes an APP’s (advanced practice provider) outstanding leadership, participation in and contributions to the discipline of advanced practice. This award pays special tribute to the recipient’s distinguished lifetime of service to the advanced practice profession in contributions to creating a healthy work environment and teamwork, working for improvement of health care services to all people and fostering high standards of advanced practice throughout practice, education, leadership and research.
She assisted in leadership efforts to maintain certification as a Rural Health Clinic in both Rock Rapids and George, Iowa, and Certified Medical Home, as well as meeting regulatory requirements for a Critical Access Hospital status.
As the nomination from her peers stated, “She has an outstanding reputation among her colleagues and staff as well as within the community as a thorough, compassionate and extremely knowledgeable clinician.”
- Rural nursing: What’s nice about small-town care
- Vietnam created physician assistants for rural, native care