Grafton finding her niche at St. Luke

In late December, nurse practitioner Tracy Grafton joined St. Luke Medical Clinic in Marion. “I wanted to be in a rural community where I really get to know my patients and I really could affect all those different aspects (of health care),” she said.irl, Tracy Grafton felt the tug toward a career in nursing.

“I really had always grown up wanting to help people,” Grafton said. “Even as a child I pretended to be a nurse. It was just that care-giving role that I was really drawn to.”

Grafton joined St. Luke Medical Clinic in Marion at the end of December.

“I finished nurse practitioner school, and I came from Via Christie St. Francis (in Wichita) where I was at last,” she said.

Grafton said it’s a privilege to being part of the medical community.

“I think that’s why I was drawn to come to St. Luke’s because of all the different aspects,” she said. “In a small community you treat a wider variety issues with patients because we have fewer specialists.”

Certified through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, Graf­ton said she had worked as nurse for 18 years before going back to school to become a family nurse practitioner.

“I’ve pretty much done every area of nursing for the most part,” she said. “I really liked intensive care and the emergency department, so I had primarily spent my career in those areas. I also did some surgery and recovery.”

After researching nurse practitioner programs, Grafton said she chose to study at Simmons College in Boston, which has a 100 percent pass rate on the national board exams.

“Simmons was just awesome,” she said, adding that classes there are set up differently than typical online programs. “All your classes are ‘Skyped’—they were all live,” Grafton said. “You actually went into a classroom setting.”

She took two years to finish her advanced practice registered nurse degree. Her program was full-time, and she worked part-time on the side.

“I think it was a great experience,” she said.

Grafton, who grew up in Michigan, is married and has six children, the oldest having just graduated from college.

“At this point of time we live in Hutchinson and right now we’re not planning to relocate,” she said. “My schedule’s pretty nice. I just end up with three round trips (a week to Marion).”

One night a week she said she stays over in Marion.

Grafton values the benefits a family practice clinic brings to the community.

“I think the best thing that we have here is a continuity of care,” she said. “So I can treat a patient—even in the emergency department—and if they’re not established, then I follow up with them in the clinic.”

At SLMC, Grafton said for the most part she has her own practice.

“I can do a lot of treatment on my own,” she said. “I think (SLMC) is a great place, too, because we’re always there for bouncing ideas off of each other.”

Scott Ackers is her collaborating physician, which the state of Kansas requires for nurse practitioners.

“The physician has to review a certain number (of cases),” she said. “We go over different things, making sure that I’m doing everything up to that standard.”

As part of SLMC, Grafton said she recognizes the kind of medical care offered.

“We have such a great practice here—high quality providers,” she said.

Grafton said she thinks it’s a myth to think that people have to go to a big city for good care.

“I’d like to see us as a valuable asset and have people staying close to home rather than traveling to get healthcare.”

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