Our Nurse of the Week is Erin Williamson, a nurse practitioner for MedNorth Health Center in Wilmington, NC, who has dedicated his career to helping people who have no other health care options. As the seventh of eight children in his family, Williamson experienced what it’s like for your income to dictate your access to quality health care.
With six older sisters and one younger brother, Williamson came to understand the hardships that come with raising a large family, but he loved growing up in a big family and decided to help others in similar situations. He started taking health occupations classes in high school and graduated with a Nursing Assistant certificate then joined the workforce straight away, which was an important goal after the hardships his family faced when he was a child.
Williamson tells StarNewsOnline.com, “I wanted to be a nurse practitioner serving medically underserved people. Ideally, lower-income people who have limited access to health care. It is the dream job that I’ve had since I was 16. Mainly because growing up poor we got to learn what it was like to have limited access to good health care. You don’t know how that feels unless you are in that situation where you’re treated differently.”
Williamson’s first health care job after high school was at a nursing center where he worked the midnight shift and later met his wife, Rachel. The couple later moved so that Williamson could attend the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He graduated in 2004 with a degree in nursing, then moved back to Wilmington where he took a job on the adult inpatient surgical floor with New Hanover Regional Medical Center for five years while he worked on his master’s in nursing at University of North Carolina Wilmington.
At the end of his master’s studies, Williamson chose to complete his clinical training at MedNorth Health Center ,which receives federal grant funds from the US Department of Health and Human Services to provide primary and preventive health care services to medically underserved populations. Patients at the health center receive service regardless of their ability to pay with services designed to cover prenatal, pediatric, adolescent, adult, and geriatric life cycles.
Williamson knew immediately that it was the right place for him and he tells StarNewsOnline.com, “I liked the community health center because being downtown we get an interesting mix of homeless people, professors, other professionals that work downtown, and a lot of people who have no other place to go for healthcare.”
After completing his master’s degree in nursing in 2009, Williamson went straight from being a student to being a nurse practitioner at MedNorth where he has remained since. To learn more about Williamson’s path to becoming a nurse practitioner and helping the underserved find access to quality healthcare, visit here.