For Mimi Secor, women's health issues have long been a personal as well as professional concern. "I started as an NP working in emergency rooms and urgent care, where we saw a lot of women coming in with female-related problems," says Mimi, speaking over the phone in between conferences, speaking engagements and her many clinical duties. "I also saw how these women often didn't receive the medical attention they deserved. This was very troubling to me."
Mimi spent the next 30 years of her career enhancing access to quality, cost-effective medical care for underserved populations, including women and their families. She's made it her personal mission to empower women to improve not only their health, but their confidence, their self-esteem, and their lives.
This quest has taken her across the country from a prison in Massachusetts where she volunteered her time to treat female inmates, to the rural Alaska community of Bethel where she provided primary care for a diverse population that included Yupik Eskimos.
Mimi will be the first to tell you, her journey has not always been easy. "It's been a constant challenge to help these women access the services and information they need to make healthy decisions. But it's also been a charge."
If you could say one thing to women working in healthcare, what would it be?
"Save some energy for yourself and your loved ones. Have fun! If life isn't fun, what's the point?"
— Mimi Secor, MS, M.ED, APRN, BC, FNP, FAANP
For Mimi, it's also led to some of her most rewarding accomplishments. In response to the lack of healthcare options for underserved families, Mimi was one of the first NPs to launch her own private practice in Cambridge, MA, which she operated for 12 years. While taking in patients from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds, Mimi also took on politicians and policy makers. Mimi organized her colleagues to push through legislation allowing NPs to write prescriptions and receive reimbursements from insurance companies. These key breakthroughs helped progress the profession of NPs everywhere, while also breaking down barriers preventing equal access to quality healthcare.
While mobilizing her profession, Mimi has continued to deliver an exceptional level of care to her patients. She embodies the core Nurse Practitioner philosophy: to deliver holistic care that positively affects every sphere of the patient's life. This extends beyond diagnosis and treatment, to include educating and counseling patients on health issues — which she has done not only in her practice, but on media outlets such as Good Morning America as well as on her own weekly radio show. Explains Mimi, "For me, being a clinician and an educator go hand in hand."
Like the vast majority of her colleagues, Mimi was a practicing registered nurse before becoming an NP. Her experience and knowledge as a working nurse provided the foundation on which she built her advanced practice. She believes this is what allows NPs to excel at what they do.
"As NPs, we combine the perspective of nursing with the practice of medicine, bringing the two together," says Mimi.
This balance of care and cure allows Mimi to build trusted relationships with her patients. "One of the most rewarding things for me, is when I connect intimately with a patient. It's the power of this positive relationship that transforms patients' lives, not just their health but every aspect."
Mimi's patients have seen the value NPs bring to patient care. But Mimi is equally determined to raise public awareness of the important role NPs play in the delivery of quality healthcare. "We provide care for patients who have the least voice. We have to take it upon ourselves to educate people about what NPs bring to the table."
A large part of this effort to increase awareness and credibility, says Mimi, is in how NPs present themselves professionally. "Appearance is key," she acknowledges. "That's why I'm so thrilled about Medelita. It's huge. I'm really looking forward to wearing my Medelita lab coat."
While educating her patients, Mimi is herself a lifelong learner — gleaning not only from stacks of research and books, but from the very people she treats. As an example, she points to the seven years she spent practicing 400 miles off the road system in rural Alaska.
"You know what the Yupik call non-natives?" she asks. "'People of Thunder.' They say we talk too much, too loudly, and they're right. They also say, 'You have two ears and one mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you talk.' That has been an instrumental lesson in my practice. It's something I'm still working on, with every patient, every day."
We're sure her patients appreciate all her efforts and hard work. Medelita certainly does.