News Story

Recent Family Nurse Practitioner Graduate Works at COVID-19 Testing Site in Florida

August 14, 2020 – Nordica Owens (G’20) graduated in May from the Family Nurse Practitioner Program. She grew up in Cumberland House, a First Nations community in Canada, and she was a teacher before becoming a nurse. With her master’s degree completed, Owens is working at a COVID-19 testing site in Florida as she plans her future steps as a nurse practitioner. (Read a recent story about Owens in Eagle Feather News.)

Nordica Owens stands in front of White-Gravenor Hall on Georgetown's campus wearing her graduation cap and a special ribbon skirt she had made to help connect "western medicine with traditional medicine."
Nordica Owens (G’20) in her ribbon skirt, which she had created to help connect “western medicine with traditional medicine.” (Photo credit: Kimberly McLeod)

Question: Tell us a bit about where you grew up and your life and career before you received your bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Owens: I grew up in Cumberland House, a remote First Nations community in Northern Canada.  

While I was growing up, people had to leave the community and their families to complete the 12th grade to graduate. I believe the first graduating class in our community was 1990, and I graduated in 1993.

I had my first son not long after I graduated and knew that getting an education would be important in providing for my family. I applied to the Indian Teacher Education Program at the University of Saskatchewan and graduated in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in education. I took my first teaching job at Stanley Mission, which is another First Nations settlement in Northern Saskatchewan. After a year there, I decided to move back home to Cumberland House and teach at the school I attended as a child.

I loved my job, my students, and community, but I wanted to give my own children new opportunities. I applied for the Visiting International Faculty Program and went to North Carolina to teach. It was not an easy transition because I basically had to start over and I did not know anybody here. My parents own a hunting and fishing lodge in Cumberland House called Mistik Lodge. They had some clients who live in North Carolina. One happened to own a car dealership, and he helped me get a car. 

I met my husband in North Carolina, and I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel as my husband serves in the military.  I’ve worked with children with special needs and with teenagers at a youth center, and I have had the opportunity to work in clinics and in several different hospital settings. 

Question: How did you learn about Georgetown’s program?

Owens: We were stationed in Hawaii when I came across an ad about Georgetown’s FNP Program. I had applied to a couple other schools and did not believe that Georgetown would accept me. A lady in the admissions department encouraged me to complete my application. I am so glad that I did. 

Question: What aspects of Georgetown’s distance program did you enjoy?

Owens: During the program, my husband was given orders to move. We knew we were leaving during the summer of my fifth semester, but we were not sure where the Army would send us. I decided to go back to Texas for one semester while my husband moved us to Washington, DC so that I would not have to take time off. 

Georgetown was very accommodating in finding me clinical placements in three different states.  Even though this was a distance learning program, I met some amazing classmates, some of whom will be lifelong friends. The professors ensured that I received the same professional exposure as any NP student attending on campus. 

Question: Where are you currently practicing as a family nurse practitioner?

Owens: We just relocated to Florida. I am looking for an NP position at this time and am currently working with the Florida State Emergency Response Team to help mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope to have the opportunity to serve communities, like the one I originated from, and give back to those who are often neglected. 

Question: Tell us more about your ribbon skirt and the symbolism for your approach to your career.

Owens: My ribbon skirt was created by Healingstiches. We wanted to create something that tied western medicine with traditional medicine. I believe that nursing is caring for the whole person; healing occurs not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well. The traditional teachings of the medicine wheel align with the nursing model of care. These teachings have instilled empathy and compassion in me.