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National Nurses Week 2010 Profilies in Nursing: Pam DeVisser, FNP

Pam DeVisser, FNP


Tualatin, OR - When Pam DeVisser moved to Tualatin in 1991 to work as a Nurse Practitioner, she knew she would be delivering care to many local families and patients. What she didn’t know is that she would also be acting as a tour guide.

"Just last week, I had a young family come into the clinic who had just moved to Tualatin and, given that I have lived here a long time and really know this community, I was able to act as a resource for them. I know where the dentists are, the dry cleaners, the schedule of readings at the library, when live music is playing at Hayden’s, and even what time to go to the restaurants at Bridgeport to avoid the dinner rush,” DeVisser said.

Her skills as a tour guide may be impressive, but it is her skills as a clinician and Nurse Practitioner that have made DeVisser one of the most recognized and admired nurses in the state.

This year, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) selected DeVisser as their Oregon recipient for the annual State Award for Excellence, which honors a nurse practitioner from each state who demonstrates excellence in their practice. The AANP, which has more than 135,000 members, was created in 1985 to provide the growing Nurse Practitioner profession a means of networking and advocating for patient health.

"I feel so honored by this award because I was nominated by my colleagues, all of whom are amazing clinicians and nurses, and because it recognizes the value of being involved in my state professional association,” said DeVisser.

The award is not DeVisser’s first for excellence in quality care delivery. In 2008, DeVisser received the Don Lapoma Award for Clinical Excellence, and in 2003 she received the Oregon Nurses Association Clinical Excellence Award.

"Pam deserves every award she gets,” said Susan King, Executive Director of the Oregon Nurses Association, "because she is an incredible nurse that truly cares about her patients and their health. She is an inspiration to us all.”

As a young woman growing up in Michigan, DeVisser knew that she wanted to be either a teacher or a nurse. After graduating with her Bachelors of Science in Nursing degree from Nazareth College in Michigan in 1976, DeVisser worked as a nurse in an intensive care unit. "Patients there were very ill, and because we were dealing with their immediate care needs, I didn’t have a lot of time to work with them or their families on overall health and wellness,” DeVisser said.

After receiving her Nurse Practitioners degree from Michigan State in 1988, Devisser put her focus on family practice. "After 22 years as an NP, I spend almost half of my time teaching and counseling patients about health and wellness. We deal with issues like what parents should know about childhood health, child development, and preventative health. Now, I am both a nurse and a teacher,” DeVisser said.

"Family practice and primary care is what we need to focus on right now,” according to DeVisser. Recent national health care legislation will have a significant impact on the role of nurses, and nurse practitioners, in the delivery of health care in the future. "National Health Care reform means that primary care, the model of health care delivery that gives patients and families a relationship with their health care professionals, will be more and more the norm. Nurses and Nurse Practitioners will play a central role in that model.”

Nurse Practitioners are nurses who have an advanced degree in nursing and, as a result, are licensed to examine and diagnose patients, and prescribe medications; tasks that registered nurses and licensed practical nurses are not able to perform.

"As the country moves towards a model of health care delivery that puts greater emphasis on primary and preventative care, nurse practitioners will be at the forefront of that system,” said King, who works closely with the Nurse Practitioners of Oregon, the statewide professional association for Nurse Practitioners. "All across the country, we will begin to see more and more registered nurses going back to school to become NPs as the demand for those unique services increases.”

"It would be ideal if those NPs looked to Pam as a model for how to provide care to patients,” said King.

DeVisser is a Nurse Practitioner at the Providence Bridgeport Clinic in Tualatin where she has a focus on Family Practice. Her two children, Mark and Katie, both graduated from Tualatin High School and DeVisser’s family attend SouthLake Church in West Linn.

* Image of Pam DeVisser courtesy of Providence Bridgeport Clinic.  Photo by Jerome Hart Photography

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