Strive Nurse Practitioner: ‘My Heart Is Always with the Patient’

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September 12, 2022
Karen Brautigam, FNP-C

Karen Brautigam, FNP-C, has been a nurse practitioner (NP) for 19 years and a registered nurse for even longer. She was the first nurse practitioner hired at Strive Health. She joined the team in March 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic wielded its impact on the world.

During Nephrology Nurses Week, we chatted with Karen about the most rewarding and challenging aspects of being an NP, the uniqueness of Strive’s NP-led care model and how she sees the NP field evolving in the future.  

Q: What made you want to become an NP?
A: My heart is always with the patient. I worked in management and learned many useful things, but preferred to grow while staying close to patient care. Being a nurse practitioner allows me the opportunity to use my advanced knowledge and skills to help patients and families at a level that continues to challenge me daily.

Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of being an NP?
A: I am passionate about learning and using new techniques and skills to help patients learn and adapt to live their healthiest lives, despite their complicated CKD journeys. Working with dedicated team members is also a big plus!

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of being an NP in nephrology?
A: There are many challenges to being a nurse practitioner in nephrology, but the greatest challenge is helping patients 1) perceive what they still have amidst their many losses and 2) maintain a sense of control, gratitude and wonder in their lives. That takes a lot of listening and reprioritization in the patient-NP partnership.

Q: How is Strive’s NP-led care model different in terms of how it supports our partners and patients?
A: Everyone on the care team does so much to support patients and partners. The nurse practitioner, as a healthcare leader, works with the patient and team to achieve health outcomes. Coordination of care with multiple provider specialists requires complex knowledge and attention to detail to avoid conflict of medications and procedures and to help patients continue to move forward toward health goals and thrive, not just survive.

Q: How has Strive changed since when you first joined the company?
A: Patients have always been at the heart of our passion at Strive and that will never change. I believe the analytics give Strive an edge to reach the most vulnerable patients. The way we continually improve our the analytics and how they are utilized by clinicians is how we help change the CKD journey for so many of our patients.

Q: How do you see the nurse practitioner field evolving over the next five to 10 years?
A: Nurse practitioners will continue to fill the gaps in primary care and other specialties in the future. And we will see more legislative roadblocks to full practice removed in the near future so that more patients can be served.

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