As the saying goes, “perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other,” So one might describe Teresa Formo’s journey to becoming a
nurse practitioner with her time spent in Redfield as one of those short races.
Formo, an NDSU nurse practitioner student and current resident of Clark, has been commuting to Redfield once or twice a week for clinical training since August. As the end of Formo’s clinical rotation in Redfield approaches in December, Formo is grateful for her experiences along the way. Formerly a registered nurse, Formo spent the majority of her career in the labor, delivery and nursery departments in a small hospital in North Dakota. She later moved into a manager role and spent time in many different departments. However, becoming a nurse practitioner was often in the back of her mind.
In September, Formo shared a little bit about her journey from first starting out as a registered nurse to her studies to become a nurse practitioner.
“I guess when I first wanted to be a nurse, I was in the hospital and there were some nurses that took care of me that made an impact. It made a difference. It was not like as a little girl I always wanted to be a nurse. Even when I graduated high school, my dream was not to be a nurse at that time. I went to one year of college to be in law, and then I switched to become a nurse. It was a couple nurses that made a big difference. The difference that they made in my life, and just how they were as people, and seeing the difference that they made in other people’s lives, I just thought, ‘I want to do that,’” said Formo. “And I think that is probably why, too, all of these years I have kept coming back to wanting to become a nurse practitioner, because I just feel there is a need. I want to help if I can.”
According to Formo, becoming a nurse practitioner (also referred to as a mid-level provider or advanced practice RN) would enable her to be more independent. The title would open up many opportunities for her in patient care.
“The big things are being able to diagnose, manage care and prescribe,” said Formo.
Formo began her nurse practitioner schooling last year at an NDSU campus in Bismarck while living in Mandan, North Dakota with her husband. After her husband got a job in Clark, South Dakota, the two packed up and moved mid-schoolyear.
“Redfield and Ron [Wren] were nice enough to take me in and let me be here,” said Formo. “I was already in school, so I actually drive back to Bismarck once a week for classes and then I have clinicals the rest of the week.”
In addition to Redfield, Formo is doing clinical hours in Minnesota and dermatology rotations in Bismarck. However, Redfield is her “main clinical.” “I think that Redfield presents a good opportunity for students. We see a wide variety of things come through the clinic,” said Formo.
“I think they have a good network of providers here.”
A normal clinical day for Formo means waking up at about 4:30 or 5a.m. before commuting to Redfield, then following CMH family practice physician, Ron Wren, throughout the day from 8a.m. to 4:30 or 5p.m. before going home again and working on homework. She usually hits the hay at 11 or 12p.m.
“I average very little sleep,” said Formo. But she also said she has enjoyed her time. “Every day there is something new to me because I am so early in it. I like learning and I like learning everybody’s perspectives on things. I get a little nervous because I am learning and I am not as comfortable as I had been when I did my job for so many years before. So everybody has been very helpful and the patients have been very gracious to let a new student come in.”
As for advice to students who may be interested in the same field, Formo said to be sure of oneself before beginning the journey.
“I would say if somebody is thinking about it, to truly understand why they would want to do it. And to just look at different schools. There are a whole bunch of different schools out there, and there are a whole bunch of different options. For me, even in North Dakota, there are two schools right there. One was mainly online and NDSU does a hybrid, so you sit in class one day a week. Some, you can go to schools that are totally all online, where you never meet in person. And then there are schools where you meet once a month or once a quarter. So it kind of depends on your learning style and how you think you are going to do the best,” said Formo. “Talk to other people who are in that field. If you are thinking about becoming a nurse practitioner, talk to other nurse practitioners. Talk to people who graduated from the programs that you are interested in and see if you can shadow them…Then don’t let anything hold you back. Just go for it.”
In her downtime, Formo enjoys walks with her “fur baby,” a heeler and lab cross. She also likes spending time outdoors, exercising, reading and baking. Her husband, Shawn McDonald, works for United Feeders and Clark Feeders and her two children are grown and out of the house. Her son works as a firefighter in Oregon and her daughter is a banker in Bismarck, North Dakota.