Q&A with Texas NP Serving River City Patients
Monday, February 3, 2020
Posted by: Erin Cusack
At Texas Nurse Practitioners, we want to highlight the dedicated NPs who provide quality healthcare to Texans every day. This week, we are highlighting Family Nurse Practitioner Ashley Ferguson. Ferguson and her team serve patients in the metropolitan San Marcos area, providing worker’s compensation services, family primary care, vaccinations, physicals, health screenings, women’s health care, and treatment of chronic conditions.
Q: Why did you decide to choose a career in the healthcare field?
A: From a very young age (first grade), I knew I wanted to be a nurse. I always said it was a calling because the desire never changed. I felt the desire to care for people, which is ultimately why I wanted to go into nursing. When I entered into an associate degree program right after high school, I knew then that I would eventually get my Master’s in Nursing. However, I was not sure yet which route I wanted to take.
Q: What encouraged you to open up your own practice? What words of encouragement would you offer others who are considering being NP business owners?
A: There were a number of things that led to the opening of my clinic. First, the clinic I worked for right out of NP school was closing its doors. The physician I worked for made an agreement with me so I could open the practice and care for his patients, many of whom I already had a relationship with. Secondly, my father is such a role model to me. He co-owned a pharmacy my whole life and I always saw his dedication to his work and his customers. He was very much a people person and he was able to establish relationships in the community through his work and the way he treated others. Although he passed away before I opened the practice, the example he set was a huge factor in my decision to open the clinic. Quite honestly, I had several heart-to-heart conversations with both my husband and my mom. Both were more supportive (and still very much are) than I ever could have imagined. The last conversation before my final decision was with my mom. We were sitting in the office in her house, which was decorated with several items from my father’s pharmacy. She told me that prior to my father opening his pharmacy, a more experienced pharmacist told him he would never succeed. My father’s response to that was simple: if he did not succeed then he would find another job and go work for someone else, but he at least had to give it a shot. After this particular conversation, my husband and I talked about it again and he also urged me to give it a try. The thought was, if I don’t try, five years from now I would wonder where I could have been.
What words of encouragement would you offer others who are considering being NP business owners?
A: My words of encouragement for NP business owners: it can be done with hard work, dedication and key people who are supportive of you (both in the practice and at home). I would also say never give up. I almost closed the clinic doors about a year and a half after opening. We aren’t really trained in the business world; we are good at taking care of people. If you’re going to succeed, you need to learn the basics of business and take care of people. If you are loyal to your patients, take the time to listen and take care of them, the business will grow. Never take for granted one day or one success because it could all be gone in an instant. When you open a practice, until the day you leave it, it will take hard work, a lot of time and dedication.
Q: What is the best part of getting to help patients and serving the San Marcos community as an NP?
A: The best part of what we do is knowing that we are helping people from all walks of life – many that otherwise would not have access to quality care. We develop relationships with our patients and their families and hopefully make a positive impact on their lives through our care and compassion. I feel I have been very blessed in life and try to pay some of that forward through positivity and support of our patients and community.
Q: Can you share a patient success story or a patient story that really inspired you?
A: Oh, I have so many inspiring patients I would love to tell you about! One that will forever stick with me is a very young person that came to me and we ended up catching a leukemia diagnosis on her very first visit. She has been through treatment and is in remission and just went back to school recently. Another is a young lady we helped diagnosis with multiple sclerosis. Her journey to get treatment, and ultimately to remission, has been incredible! I am also truly inspired by patients that do what they can and make positive changes to create positive outcomes in their daily lives. I have several diabetics that changed eating habits, started exercising, lost weight and feel great without having to be on several medications. It’s inspiring when people will listen to input and do what they can to help themselves become healthier.
Q: During the most recent legislative session, you testified for Texas Nurse Practitioners in support of H.B. 387, a bill that allows nurse practitioners to sign health forms for injured workers in the workers’ compensation system. How has this bill impacted you personally?
A: H.B. 387 has impacted me personally because we do take care of people that have been injured at work through the workers compensation system. This bill made it possible for NPs to sign the ‘return to work’ status form, DWC-73, and to get reimbursed for them). This impacted me because it allows these workers to get back to work with restrictions if necessary and it has also made an impact on financials, as we can now get reimbursed for completing the DWC 73 form.
Q: Why do you think it is important for NPs to advocate for policy change in Texas?
A: It is imperative for NPs to advocate for policy change in Texas because we are affected every single day by this. We have barriers to providing quality care and it is easy to complain about these barriers, but if we don’t advocate for change to reduce obstacles, nothing will change. Who better to fight for change than those directly impacted by it?
Q: What do you do for fun in your down time?
A: My favorite way to spend time off is with my family. I have a very supportive husband and two wonderful daughters who are forgiving of me for spending so much time at the clinic. I try (and constantly struggle but keep trying) to truly be in the moment with them and enjoy each day and the time we do have together. I love to go on small trips and take them to enjoy experiences, so I strive to make this happen as often as possible!