Alumna named Nurse of the Year

 Pamela Scott, a graduate of UWM’s College of Nursing, was honored as 2011 Nurse of the Year. Scott was featured in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s special Nurse of the Year section, published May 1.

Nominations for the award come from the community. A panel of judges, which included six nurses and one community representative, chose the winner and three runners-up.

Scott is a family nurse practitioner for the Angel of Hope Clinic on Milwaukee’s South Side. The clinic, which is part of the Wheaton Franciscan Medical Group, provides medical care to the homeless and low-cost care for those who are uninsured.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree from UWM in 1977, she started working at the former St. Michael’s Hospital as a staff nurse, then an emergency room nurse.

While working full-time in the emergency room, she came back to UWM part time for graduate school to become a board-certified family nurse practitioner.

“I like to be challenged and I had confidence I could do more,“ Scott told the Journal Sentinel. “So, after being out of school for 20 years, I decided to take the next step; my love for direct patient care influenced my decision to become a family nurse practitioner.”

Soon after Scott completed her master’s degree in 2001, Wheaton asked her to move to the Angel of Hope Clinic.

Scott originally was hired to be a fill-in nurse practitioner at the clinic, according to the Journal Sentinel article, but a full-time position became available just weeks before she started, and she took that position instead.

“I hadn’t seen the clinic before I started, but I wanted to stay with Wheaton, so I took the job,“ she said. “I believe it was just meant to be; God guided my footsteps because he wanted me here.”

Since approximately 80 percent of her patients speak Spanish, Scott has immersed herself in the language to communicate with patients. “I have become proficient and require the help of an interpreter on a limited basis,“ she said in the newspaper article.

At the clinic, Scott works with patients from 6 months old to adults, handling well-child checks and physicals, and helping patients manage chronic and urgent health issues.

“I encourage preventive care and stress the importance of living a healthy lifestyle,“ she said to the paper. “Also, at a young age, I begin to tell the kids about college and careers for the future. I want them to know they have options after high school.”

In addition to her work at the Angel of Hope Clinic, Scott has found time to travel to Haiti to help provide medical services. She was in that country during the January 2010 earthquake, and traveled to Port au Prince to help out at a temporary trauma clinic. She returned to that country in April 2010 and again in October.

“The post-earthquake physical and emotional scars were evident everywhere I went,“ she said.

She and her daughter collected 500 pairs of shoes for Haitian children in the spring of 2010, and have started another collection drive for her planned trip back to Haiti this fall.

Scott and her husband, David, have a son and a daughter, Christopher and Megan, and two grandchildren.

Local health care systems especially value the strong decision-making UWM nursing graduates develop in the program, says Sally Lundeen, dean of the College of Nursing. In fact, 98 percent of those who earn their bachelor’s degree have a job offer as soon as they graduate, while nearly 100 percent of all those completing master’s or doctoral degrees in the past decade had positions at graduation.

“We’re very proud of Pam Scott,“ says Lundeen. “Nurses like her are helping develop solutions to many of the health care challenges that face the nation today.”