NDSU graduate fills health care need as nurse practitioner
Published June 2016
Natalie Aughinbaugh is ready for anything when a patient walks through the doors of Sanford Health West Fargo Clinic. As a family nurse practitioner, she treats all ages. She performs physicals, and checks eyes, ears, noses and throats. She prescribes medications to help people live better lives.
“I’ve always wanted to help people and always wanted to work in the healthcare field,” she said. “I’m happiest when I can take care of other people.”
Aughinbaugh is another example of NDSU graduates who live and work in the area. And she fills a much-needed role for Sanford, which, like many businesses in Fargo-Moorhead, depends on NDSU to educate professionals for North Dakota’s expanding workforce.
Health professionals of all types are in demand in North Dakota and across the country. Nursing is one of the biggest needs. A recent report from Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce estimates North Dakota will have almost 4,500 job openings for registered nurses by 2020.
There also will likely be a greater need for more family physicians, surgeons and nurse practitioners as the state’s growing and aging population puts a larger strain on the healthcare system.
“As our region continues to experience extraordinary growth, so too does the demand on Sanford to grow our talented staff. Local schools providing opportunities for higher education is key to our recruitment success. We work closely with colleges, like NDSU, as part of our hiring strategy,” said Paul Richard, Sanford Fargo Executive Vice President. “NDSU and Sanford have had a long-standing relationship. We truly rely on and look forward to the talent NDSU graduates each year.”
Aughinbaugh worked as a registered nurse for almost seven years before she pursued her doctor of nursing practice degree from the NDSU School of Nursing. She continued her education to gain more scientific and practical knowledge, and to advance in her career.
“NDSU taught me a lot of critical thinking skills and the program really focused on putting the patient first,”said Aughinbaugh, who earned her advanced degree in 2015. “All of that knowledge comes back to me in my current job as the foundation of what I need to do to when I’m searching for a solution any problem.”
Aughinbaugh taught undergraduate nursing clinicals as a graduate assistant while at NDSU. The job helped offset a large portion of her tuition, making it more feasible to attend graduate school.
In her current position for less than a year, Aughinbaugh relies on self-evaluation techniques used in her classes at NDSU to improve her quality of patient care.
“As I progress, I often sit back and look at what has been going well and what I can do to be better as a person and as a provider,” she said. “That all came from NDSU.”