Three is a magic number for Amber Richert. In 2011, she will earn her third degree, a MSN in Family Primary Care. She already holds a BS in Nursing and a BA in Socio-Cultural Anthropology. But it's another trio that embodies the focus of Richert's career as a nurse practitioner. While most people take a lifetime to fill one passport, at age 29, Richert is well into her third.
"I've always loved international exploration," says Richert, whose first trip abroad was a community service project in Kenya at age 13. During high school and college, she spent time in India, South America, Europe, and Asia. For her undergraduate senior thesis, she researched sex-trafficking in Nepal. Each experience, every trip adds far more than another passport stamp; it brings her closer to her career goal of melding medicine with community service. "I always wanted to be a doctor in a Winnebago providing healthcare to patients who lacked access," Richert says.
But with college came an uncertainty about medicine. She rekindled the interest while volunteering in a hospital after a post-undergraduate job in college admissions. "I knew then that being a nurse practitioner would fulfill my passion and allow me to use my love of people, science, and community service with my international experience," she says. Richert also knew that Hopkins would give her the focus she wanted. "With the Returned Peace Corps Fellows program and new Center for Global Nursing, Hopkins has a strong commitment to providing quality nursing to developing countries. That, along with Hopkins' worldwide recognition, made it a perfect fit for me."
Through Hopkins, Amber has added new stamps to her passport. During the Accelerated BS program, she had a public health rotation in St. Croix. And during her master's studies, she has spent six weeks in a Ugandan hospital immersed in adult primary care and a week in Haiti as part of the Haiti Medical Mission, a Hopkins partnership with the Parish Twinnings Program of the Americas. Richert even realized her childhood dream during her Adult primary care rotation with Mobile Medical in Silver Spring, MD: she worked out of a R.V., providing free and low-cost healthcare to the homeless and working poor.
It's the people at Hopkins, though, who've really put a stamp on her nursing education. "The faculty helps me make the most out of my Johns Hopkins education," she says. "The time and effort they put into the quality of the instruction and getting to know me as an individual are extraordinary. Hopkins is vast, but the school of nursing is small and intimate." Case in point: Her preceptor for her Women's Health clinical rotation was a guest lecturer for a class Richert took earlier in her program.
Post-Hopkins, Richert plans to couple her interests in healthcare and community service locally and abroad. "I want to hone my skills and come into my own as a clinician, especially with low-income communities in the U.S., prior to going abroad again," says Richert, who will apply for fellowships and to the National Health Service Corps. After that, blank pages in her third passport await, and, she chuckles, "the dream of the Winnebago is still alive."