Purdue Profile: Lynn Miskovich

February 10, 2014  

Lynn Miskovich

Lynn Miskovich, associate professor of nursing at Purdue University Calumet. (Photo provided)
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A lifelong passion for health care drives Lynn Miskovich, associate professor of nursing at Purdue University Calumet, to find and create the best possible care options for patients in Northwest Indiana.

As a certified adult nurse practitioner, Miskovich leads by example as she cares for patients alongside the undergraduate nursing students she teaches at a shelter for women and children. Her community outreach gives her a chance to work with vulnerable populations, which include patients with chronic medical conditions, uninsured patients, children from low-income families and the elderly.

What led you to become a nurse?

I have always had an interest in health care, science, disease prevention and health promotion. My passion for working in health care evolved from an opportunity to volunteer at a local hospital while a middle school student. After this experience, I knew I wanted to be a nurse. Upon graduation, I worked in an acute care setting. However, I quickly realized that my preference -- and strength -- was working with individuals to keep them healthy and out of acute care facilities. The primary care nurse practitioner role allows me to focus on health promotion and disease prevention in addition to the management of health problems.

How did you come to help establish the Catherine McAuley Clinic in Hammond?

In 1994, an administrator of Franciscan St. Margaret Hospital requested my participation in responding to the health care access deficiencies identified through a community-based needs assessment. The results highlighted the lack of accessible primary health care for the medically uninsured. Unfortunately, most “office visits” are cost-prohibitive for someone earning minimum wage or the homeless. An emergency room visit becomes the only option for these individuals. To respond to this need, I collaborated with a task force charged with drafting a proposal to establish a primary care clinic that served the medically uninsured working poor and homeless. The task force, representing interdisciplinary community leaders, worked for the following two years to obtain grant funding, design and plan the clinic.

In March 1996, the McAuley clinic opened its doors. The Franciscan Alliance, private grants, donations, and the local community, continue to support the clinic. This past year we recorded more than 40,000 patient contacts. As a nurse practitioner, I continue to provide primary care to patients and serve on the clinic advisory board. I also involve both undergraduate and graduate nursing students in an experiential learning opportunity that focuses on providing primary care and a variety of health promotion interventions to the patients.

What work do you do with vulnerable populations in Northwest Indiana?

I combine my roles of faculty and nurse practitioner to identify vulnerable populations within the community and intervene when possible to reduce disparities.  The university administration supports my community outreach and works with my schedule so I am able to provide direct patient care, health education and screening at various sites. Approximately eight years ago I began work with a shelter for women and children. I now have undergraduate students at the site on a weekly basis providing services to the shelter clients and those seeking assistance from the community. Comparable services have extended to various low-income senior citizen sites, congregate meal sites, and of course the McAuley Clinic.

As an associate professor, what do you hope to instill in aspiring health care professionals?

My goal is to instill an awareness of the unique needs of the vulnerable and provide tools to identify resources. While I strive to prepare knowledgeable, proficient health care providers, it is my hope that each will exhibit a philosophy of “care” for those in need that is acted upon throughout one’s career. I hope to inspire a professional commitment to advocacy and service within vulnerable populations.

Are there other service learning opportunities you'd like to become involved with in the future?

I am always seeking new community-based experiential learning opportunities for students. I frequently collaborate with the Northwest Indiana Area Health Education Center to develop new possibilities. We are currently expanding an interprofessional education focus at several sites that include students in undergraduate nursing, graduate nurse practitioner, counseling, and pharmacy programs. The students gain greater appreciation for the adversity faced by vulnerable populations and learn to identify resources required to meet patient needs. Each discipline contributes to patient care. Students gain insight into the various professions, develop an appreciation for how each contributes to patient care and experience collaboration to improve patient outcomes. I am also currently working to establish a health care mission trip for students. I am hopeful this will come to fruition within the next year.

Writer: Hannah Harper, harper4@purdue.edu

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