by Jason P. Smith
Diana Botton, NP, practice manager in Denver Health’s adult urgent care clinic, didn’t want to become a nurse, despite the encouragement of her parents. She was so opposed to the idea of nursing school that she joined the military to avoid it, but, in the long run, that couldn’t have pleased her parents more.
"My parents wanted me to be a nurse and I didn’t want to be a nurse," she said. "I actually joined the Army at 17 because I didn’t want to go to nursing school. Then, I found out in the military that nursing was my field. The military put me through LPN school, and I found out then that I was truly meant to be in the nursing field.
"It was quite interesting to tell my parents I never applied to any colleges, and then ask them to sign my enlistment paperwork," she said. "It actually worked out well for me because the military ended up paying for almost all of my schooling. I got out as an LPN, stayed in the Reserves went to RN school on the GI Bill then went into the military as an RN and got my NP out of the military. I’ve been very lucky."
Botton’s work as a nurse practitioner in the Army took her around the world and taught her the skills she uses today. "I functioned as a nurse practitioner in the military in an internal medicine clinic and in an emergency room where we piloted a fast track program," she said. "I was in Desert Storm as a nurse practitioner with an infantry unit, working as a nurse practitioner in an emergency situation. I also was stationed in Korea, where I ran an emergency room/urgent care clinic."
In 1994 Botton got out of the military and came to Denver Health. She has done some private practice as a NP, and still moonlights at that private practice from time to time.
She has met some challenges along the way, however. "The diversity and meeting people’s expectations, which sometimes are not grounded in reality, has been challenging," she said.
Although she has worked in a private practice setting, her experience and love for urgent care has kept her working in that direction at Denver Health. "I specialized in urgent care on my own because I like that area," Botton said. "I found that private practice was great, but it was very time-consuming, sometimes receiving calls at home from patients. Most of my background is in ICU and ER nursing."
"I really enjoy being able to change people’s lives," Botton said of her work. "Sometimes for the better and sometimes giving them bad news, but helping them find ways to cope with the bad news is rewarding. And, it’s knowing that when you’ve impacted one person, you’ve really impacted the whole community.
"Treating and helping one person impacts that person’s whole family and therefore impacts the whole community."
Although working in both the clinical setting and the administrative setting at the same time would not be something everyone would enjoy, Botton wouldn’t want it any other way.
"Right now as practice manager, I get to mix administrative stuff with clinical time, and I enjoy that mix," she said. "I have a master’s in business, so it gives me different focuses. I like being able to make sure everybody has everything they need to give quality care and do it under budget and doing it by policy. To me all of that is a challenge.
"Over the years I’ve found it challenging to do the administrative part, but I love the clinical part – I can’t give that up."
Botton said she is happy to see Nurse Practitioner week become a reality, but she said it has been a long time coming. "There are still people out there who hear ‘nurse practitioner’ and ask when they are going to see the doctor," she said. "Nurse practitioners, in various settings, are well known or not known at all.
"With the Hispanic population, we’ve found that we’ve had to describe ourselves as a ‘special nurse’ through the translator so they know that we’re seeing them versus a doctor coming into a room. I think it’s long over due to separate us out, but you know what, nurse is still in my name. I’m very big on the nursing aspect, which means I treat the total patient.
"I like the challenges I get here at Denver Health – I’m going to stick it out here until I’m old and gray. I’ll die being a nurse practitioner."