Nurse Practitioner program offers low-cost health evaluations

“One of the big goals of the Sonoma State Nurse Practitioner Program is to provide care to underserved populations,” said Loree Skidmore, clinical instructor for the Family Nurse Practitioner Program.

Low cost physicals, examinations and health appraisals will be made accessible by the Nursing Department’s Family Nurse Practitioner Program Oct. 22 - Dec. 10.

The student nurses will be able to perform a number of different test for reasonable prices. All hearing tests will be free of charge, cholesterol checks will be $15, and $20 for a physical examinations. The more expensive test will include a pap test for $35 and a DMV physical examination required for commercial drivers will be $65.

Patients will have the opportunity to receive a complete record of their medical and health history. Nurses will be able to offer identification of any health risk factors along with complete physical examinations. Also, nurses will be performing screening test such as vision and hearing tests, blood pressure checks, cholesterol testing, urinalysis, hematocrit (for anemia), and pap smears for cervical cancer. The exams will be performed by registered nurses who are Family Nurse Practioner students and part of the masters nursing program.

“They (the nursing students) do it in their first semester of the Nurse Practitioner Program, and this is part of the graduate program,” said Skidmore.

The student nurses are well trained and qualified to be performing these exams, and Skidmore reported that all exams are supervised by faculty. Years ago, the Family Nurse Practitioner Program introduced the low cost health exams to the community. 

“It’s a two-way benefit. It was felt that it would benefit the community and the students get to learn how to do a physical,” said Skidmore.

In the past, their crowds have included mostly members of the community but this year they have been working on bringing in more students in to take advantage of this opportunity.

“Historically, it’s more people from the community,” Skidmore said when asked who usually attends these exams. 

“Just this last semester we started advertising it to the university and we started to get students.”

They are hoping to see more students taking advantage of this inexpensive opportunity. The exams are performed at such an affordable rate for numerous reasons, the first being that the nurses use facilities provided by SSU, which allows them to dodge building fees.

“Those of us who provide the services are not being paid, the students are not being paid...with what little money we do get from people, we use to buy supplies; and we use some of the money we get from the Nurse Practitioner Program to support it,” said Skidmore.

This program has not only helped students seeking medical training but has also helped low-income families get the care that they need. Due to the cost of doctor visits and insurance many families do not treat ailments they are experiencing with the proper attention and care.

“A lot of people who come in for physicals are people who can’t afford regular care or haven’t had care for a long time. We have found all kinds of great things they need to follow up on,” said Skidmore.

If the nurse practitioners find something that they can’t take care of, Skidmore said that they can mail records to other offices to follow up on other needs and issues. 

“Anything we can’t take care of, or identify as a problem, we can make referrals for people to low cost local clinics,” said Skidmore. 

The exams offered by the Nurse Practitioner Program can achieve several patient needs such as pre-employment physicals, sport physicals and camp physicals. 

Also, students entering the nursing program are required to complete a physical and these low-cost exams can fulfill those patient needs. In addition, these exams can fulfill needs for Class II DMV licensing physicals. 

For those interested, appointments can be made by calling SSU’s Nursing Department at (707)-664-2466 Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.