She was a nurse practitioner before it was cool

Longtime Warren County nurse practitioner Mary Raab has seen the medical profession transformed over her 42-year career.

“When I first became a nurse practitioner (NP) the concept was so new I could barely find a job. There were fewer than 50 NPs in Ohio,” recalled the Waynesville resident. “Now there are more than 3,000. Children’s Hospital alone employs at least 300 pediatric nurse practitioners (PNP).”

Raab, who recently retired, spent most of her nursing career in Warren County — first at the Warren County Health Department and the past 25 years in private practice at Suburban Pediatrics in Mason and Northeast Cincinnati Pediatrics in Lebanon.

“Initially, PNPs were trained in nine-month certificate programs, then they were required to have a master’s degree. Now, many PNP programs are online. I was trained only in well child care,” she said. “Gradually, it became acceptable to see sick children, too. Fifteen years ago, we became eligible to write prescriptions. And recently, we were allowed to prescribe narcotics.”

The Today’s Pulse talked with Raab to find out more.

Q: What was your journey in the field of nursing?

A: After graduating from The Ohio State University, I began my 42-year pediatric nursing career at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus before going to Dayton’s Children’s Medical Center. I also taught at Sinclair and worked in labor and delivery.

After becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner in the master’s program at UC, I worked at the Warren and Greene county health departments, then did home visits after delivery at Christ Hospital. The last 25 years of my career have been in primary care in private practice at Suburban Pediatrics and Northeast Cincinnati Pediatrics.

Q: Why did you become a PNP?

A: I realized I really enjoyed patient teaching, and the PNP role lent itself to that aspect of nursing. I was in the second class of nurse practitioners at UC. At that time, there were so few NPs, the federal government paid my tuition and gave me a stipend to become one.

Q: What did you enjoy most?

A: I most enjoyed building ongoing relationships with the patients and families I cared for. At NE Pediatrics, I had patients I took care of at birth and, years later, began taking care of their own children.

Q: What you say to someone interested in entering the field?

A: Get several years of experience as a registered nurse first, then search for a program that will give you excellent training, because it is a very independent role. I foresee NPs taking over primary care.

Q: What do you plan to do now that you are retired?

A: I plan to spend lots of time with my grandchildren. My husband and I travel a lot. Our exchange student, who is like a third daughter, will be getting married in Germany next year. I come from a large family, and I jokingly tell them I will come visit each of them for a week. It would take me a year!

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: My husband and I enjoy going to sporting events, especially Ohio State and Reds games. I love to cook, entertain and shop. I volunteer at the Shalom homeless shelter in Middletown. I love beading wedding handkerchiefs; it’s a family tradition.

Q: Can you tell us more about your family?

A: I grew up in a very ethnic Greek and Russian family in Columbus with my brother, Nick. I was very close to my parents and extended family. I enjoy staying in touch with them and keeping up family traditions.

Q: What are some highlights of your career?

A: In 2014 I received the Outstanding Community CPNP Award from my peers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. I have always loved being a nurse and felt it was an extension of my personality. I am proud to be one of the first nurse practitioners in Ohio. I was one before it was cool.

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Contact this contributing writer at lisa.knodel@gmail.com.

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