Appletree Bay Primary Care in Burlington marked five years as a nurse practitioner-led practice in August. The busy outpatient center offers a unique, real-world setting for students to gain experience. The practice, run by faculty nurse practitioners, serves approximately 4,000 patients. Appletree Bay nurse practitioners also offer visits for patients at home and assisted living sites, and use telehealth — the provision of health-related services via telecommunication technologies — for patients in remote settings unable to attend appointments in person.
Nursing Department Chair Rosemary Dale, who leads the staff of eight nurse pratitioners, launched the practice in August 2014 in collaboration with Dr. Patricia Prelock, then-Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. Dale had been looking for an opportunity for faculty nurse practitioners to offer primary care, so when the doctors who owned Appletree Bay Primary Care retired and sold the practice, Prelock helped secure funds for the college to acquire the practice.
“Since our opening, we have had about 90 nurse practitioner students complete clinical rotations here, adding up to almost 15,000 hours of clinical education. Many of these students are now or will become part of Vermont’s primary care workforce, caring for Vermonters all over the state,” said nursing instructor and nurse practitioner Ellen Watson, who has practiced at the clinic since it opened.
Jessica Hartman, Nursing '20, works as a medical assistant at Appletree Bay. She brings patients to their rooms, assists the nurse practitioners with examinations and performs blood draws, blood pressure checks and electrocardiograms.
“I’m able to watch the nurse practitioner do something and then we can do it together,” Hartman said. When Dr. Dale invited Hartman to remove a patient’s sutures, Hartman was able to give it a try. “Dr. Dale was right there so I had support. She talked me through it,” Hartman said.
Registered nurse Ryan Wolbach, Nursing '18, began working at Appletree Bay upon graduation. "I love the interprofessional relationships and working as a team," he said. "This clinic is unique because it is a nurse practitioner-led practice, and I am a crucial link between the nurse practitioners and the patients."
Since opening, Appletree Bay has achieved National Council on Quality Assurance (NCQA) recognition as a Patient-Centered Medical Home and received a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) grant to work on cardiovascular disease risk reduction, specifically hypertension, hyperlipidemia and diabetes control; and hired integrative medicine physician, Andrea Fossati, to provide complementary health care.