Catherine Browne is a doctoral candidate in the nurse anesthesia program at The University of Tulsa. She expects to graduate in May 2024 – but not before completing her project that addresses chronic disease and hypertension management and prevention with clients at the Tulsa Dream Center’s Good Samaritan Clinic through her fellowship with the Tulsa chapter of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship.
Located in North Tulsa, the Tulsa Dream Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in an area afflicted by poverty, a lack of resources and income disparity. The center focuses on addressing critical needs that include economic empowerment, educational advancement, health and wellness, and character and leadership.
Having been on the receiving end, Browne knows that her work makes people feel seen.
“Many times, those with a lack of resources, a language barrier and no support are overlooked,” Browne said. “Giving back to my community allows me to show those less fortunate that they also matter.”
Browne’s fellowship focuses on providing educational resources to those living with chronic hypertension. Many of her patients are on one to three types of blood pressure medications.
“The goal is to provide information on implementing a healthy diet and exercise and to educate participants on how to manage the stressors of living with hypertension, accurately obtain blood pressure at home and bring all these aspects together to have some quality of life.”
The reasons why these health issues are prevalent in North Tulsa can be traced all the way back to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, a destructive event that resulted in lasting racial alienation and a lack of basic resources in the area.
“Data has shown that North Tulsa residents experience more deaths from heart and lung diseases, diabetes, cancer and lower life expectancy,” Browne said, “and they experience these health issues three times more than the national average. It is very alarming.”
Browne’s contributions often have a lasting impact on her patients as adequate education may not be provided when patients begin new medications.
“Sometimes they’re under the impression that their medication will automatically fix their problem. I remedy this by helping patients understand how taking their prescribed medication is congruent with exercising and eating healthy foods,” she said.
Other at-risk communities could easily benefit from Browne’s approach.
“Educational resources will always be beneficial to the public because it reiterates the promotion of a healthy lifestyle,” she said.
Once Browne completes her schooling, she plans to begin her career as a nurse anesthetist at a Level 1 trauma medical center.
“The environment will allow me to obtain exceptional hands-on experience to make me a great CRNA that can provide quality care to the sickest of the sick,” said Browne, who would eventually like to become a nurse anesthetist entrepreneur to provide pain management resources to those living with chronic pain.
Browne added that the work she is doing at the Tulsa Dream Center and with the Schweitzer Fellowship has built her confidence in speaking with diverse patient populations and providing individualized care. Browne has surpassed her comfort level in leadership and social skills and is successfully providing safe and cost-efficient care and resources for those who might have never learned otherwise.
Does improving health education and care in underprivileged communities sound like the path for you? Head to the Oxley College of Health Sciences today and see all the health-related fields they have to offer!