Ellen Reece, FNP 

Practice Specialty:
Primary Care
Director of Nursing

Practice Location:
North Shore Community Health 
Gloucester | Peabody| Salem, MA

Describe why you chose to become an NP.

I had always thought about a career and medicine/health care but throughout college I was most interested in pursuing a more general liberal arts education. After college I worked on a maternal and child health study and went back and forth on whether I wanted to pursue a public health degree or become a clinician. I saw how the researchers balanced a career of clinical practice and research and felt the pull to become an NP myself.

Describe a situation in which you made a meaningful difference in the lives of one of your patients.

Each and every day at a community health center we are helping some of the most marginalized members of our community and can therefore really feel like we are all making a difference in our routine work. It’s always rewarding (and not uncommon) for a patient to tell me that being in our practice is the first time they’ve been able to feel they are not being judged for their situation or condition, such as their chronic pain, homelessness or addiction.

Additionally, getting my buprenorphine waiver and being able to prescribe this lifesaving treatment to patients with opioid use disorder in the unprecedented setting of our opioid epidemic presently is an area of practice where I truly feel I am making a critical difference against a devastating disease.

What do you think is the best part of being a Nurse Practitioner?

I’m grateful for the many areas of work that an NP career allows me to pursue. Most recently I’ve increased my administrative role in my organization as the Director of Nursing. I like the challenge of  working to improve the broader way we provide care and thinking about how both nurses and NPs can work to their full potential to improve our patients’ health outcomes.

Describe your greatest practice challenge in the current healthcare environment.

It’s hard to narrow it down! Working in primary care, and in a community health center in particular, we face varying challenges. The most daunting challenge it seems is identifying ways to address the social determinants of health which can feel out of our control as a clinician but can actually have the biggest impact on a patient’s health, or lack thereof.

What is the best advice you have been given or would give to a student entering the profession?

Self-care is truly important. In order to care most effectively for our patients, we must first care for ourselves. Finding ways to create a separation of professional and home life and to manage stress and live a healthy life are key to sustaining ones career in the challenging field of health care.