Megan Walker had always liked science growing up, but like most high schoolers, she never really had a solid idea of what she wanted to do as a career. Things changed quickly after one of her high school teachers recommended her for an office job at a doctor’s office.
“I thought it’d be a good experience,” Walker said. “I ended up working there all through high school and college as well. That’s what really shifted my focus to healthcare and nursing.”
Seven years after starting that office job, Walker became a nurse. Now, she is a nurse practitioner for women’s health at NorthShore Health Centers. Nurse practitioners do many of the same tasks as doctors, such as diagnosing illness and disease, ordering and interpreting tests, and working closely with patients to make treatment plans specific to each individual’s needs.
“It’s all about establishing a patient relationship,” Walker said. “I don’t want to just fill out a checklist and move on to the next patient. It’s important for women to find a provider they’re comfortable with and that they trust.”
Much like becoming a doctor, being a nurse practitioner requires extra steps and education. While Walker had started her nursing career working in a hospital and enjoyed it, she wanted to find a way to work with her patients more personally – which is something she loves about her job at NorthShore.
“In the office, I can work with patients over a longer term, whereas in the hospital they would come and go,” she said. “I love the educational aspect of my job; I get to teach these women about the resources available to them and see their progression over time. Seeing my patients meet their healthcare goals in what’s most rewarding.”
Walker’s passion for women’s healthcare started back when she was in nursing school. She was fascinated by OB care and even considered becoming a midwife. Then she started working at the hospital, particularly with post-partum patients, and knew what she wanted.
“I just saw the lack of education that my patients had about their bodies and how they worked,” Walker said. “They didn’t know the options that they had. So that really made me change my focus specifically to women’s health so that I could educate my patients on the information that they weren’t getting at home, in school, or around their communities.”
NorthShore Health Centers is a nonprofit, federally qualified community health clinic. They serve all patients regardless of their ability to pay, meaning Walker can reach even more women.
“It’s one of the reasons why I love NorthShore,” she said. “They give options to so many women who otherwise wouldn’t have them. We have programs to help people who don’t have insurance get enrolled, and having that at my disposal is really beneficial.”
When she is not seeing patients, Walker loves spending time with her husband and their family. She is also big on traveling and jumps at any chance she gets to do so.
To learn more about NorthShore Health Centers, visit www.northshorehealth.org.