Degree, Data Key to Helping Vulnerable Patients
DNP Public Health Nurse Leader
By Tracy Hobson Lehmann
Each piece of data that Michelle Beninato, D.N.P., M.S.N., RN, ARNP-BC, presents to a patient is a building block in a bridge that links a vulnerable patient population to quality medical care.
As a family nurse practitioner with Premise Health, Dr. Beninato provides care for the workers at Toyota Motor Manufacturing in San Antonio and their family members.
In addition to standard health care needs of assembly-line workers, she sees concentrations of concerns, such as diabetes, that have gone untreated because patients may not have had access to health insurance for a variety of reasons.
“We have to meet our patients where they are.
I make an effort to learn what’s going on in their lives so that I can develop a treatment plan that works specifically for them,” said Dr. Beninato. Her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from the School of Nursing in the Public Health Nurse Leader track, earned in 2015, prepared her to help these patients.
“I apply (my degree) every day in my clinical work,” she said. “When I’m treating a patient, I go right to the evidence. There’s enough data out there. In our clinic, we’re trying to make changes to put all that evidence into practice.”
She will confer with the on-site pharmacist to provide the best low-cost medication for patients. After a patient picks up a free glucometer from the pharmacy, they walk the 20 feet back to the clinic to learn how to scan for blood sugar readings.
The clinic registers all diabetic patients, checks in on them, and provides diet counseling. The extra attention to patients gets positive results, and a nurse tracks those metrics.
“It’s empowering, and it’s beautiful when you have a patient come in and say you’ve changed them and you’ve changed the future for their children,” she said.
A mother of four and a U.S. Army veteran, Dr. Beninato has worked in all aspects of nursing, starting as a certified nursing assistant and later serving seven years on active duty as an Army nurse before earning her Master of Science degree in Nursing from the University of Washington.
As a nurse practitioner, she worked at a family clinic in Washington state and cared for pre- and post-deployment soldiers in Maryland.
She saw in the D.N.P. program an opportunity to further help her patient population and mentor other nurses.
“My career has been filled with blessings. I felt it was time to give back. You need good mentors and preceptors,” she said. “I’m very passionate about my job, and proud of where I work and the population that I serve.”