Sunday, October 24, 2021

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Family Nurse Practitioner Susan Baker joins IHS Women’s Health Clinic full-time

Provider for Breast Cancer and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program

Susan Baker, FNP-BC, is the new primary professional medical provider for the Breast Cancer and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program at the IHS Women’s Health Clinic, which also provides contraception and family planning services plus screening and treatment for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s).

With over thirty years of nursing experience, Baker has been fulltime at the Center since June 2021. She brings an abundance of knowledge, skill and wisdom to the job.

Baker was inspired to go into medicine by her grandmother’s experience trying to get medical care.

A member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, Baker moved to Cheyenne River at three years old to live with her grandmother who was diabetic and eventually lost her eyesight. When her grandmother went for medical care and the only provider was male, she had great difficulty communicating with the provider.

Baker says, “My grandmother grew up in the old ways and was taught not to talk to men…I watched my grandmother struggle with her health and by the time I was five or six years old, I knew I wanted to help my people (with health care).”

Baker states wholeheartedly, “After decades (of nursing), I still love what I do. It’s my passion. I love working one-to-one with each person focusing on prevention and treatment without complications. It is very rewarding!”

Baker worked in labor and delivery, inpatient care, primary care, urgent care, emergency medicine, public health and psychiatric care. She worked in methamphetamine abuse prevention and as part of the community Elderly Protection Team. At one time, she was the only practitioner in her area trained to do sexual assault examinations, including child sexual assault exams.

After high school, Baker earned her A.A., B.A., and finally an M.S. in nursing from the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D. She is now a Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner with the credential FNP-BC.  Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) are advanced-practice nurses who focus on patients of all ages—from infancy through adulthood.

To become Board Certified, a nurse practitioner must be a graduate of an accredited post-graduate NP program; must have completed the required Advanced Practice Registered Nurse core courses, including advanced pharmacology, physiology, and advanced health assessment; must have completed a minimum of 500 clinical hours of supervised direct patient care; and must have a valid RN license. Due to a nationwide physician shortage, NPs are more often “filling the gap” to help meet the growing needs of patients.

Baker is very positive about the Breast Cancer and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.

She emphasizes the goal of the program is to “get there early” so that any malignancies can be treated early enough to save a life. She stresses that the program serves ALL women.

She expresses great admiration and gratitude for the entire health care team at the Women’s Health Clinic, saying “All the employees I work with are AWESOME!” She agrees that it’s “very true” that there are many Indigenous women who would not seek or receive health care if there were no Indigenous females serving as providers.

Baker has three children and three grandchildren. When she’s not working, she loves spending time with her grandchildren. She also loves to travel but has curtailed touring until the risk of COVID has been eliminated or greatly reduced.

She encourages all women of all ages to use the services of the Women’s Health Clinic, which now has new offices at the IHS hospital in Eagle Butte. She insists, “We’re open and we are ready!”

To learn more about the services of the Women’s Health Clinic at the IHS Hospital in Eagle Butte, phone (605) 964-0792.

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