28 Jun A Chat with Teresa Owens, MSN, ARNP
In any medical field, it’s imperative that a practitioner know a lot of detail about his or her patient. But it’s also helpful for the reverse to take place—for patients to know about their practitioners. And in the field of Obesity Medicine, it’s especially important to know that you’re working and partnering with a practitioner who’s down to earth, understands where you’ve been, and genuinely wants to see you succeed. Teresa Owens, MSN, ARNP, is just that person. And the Q&A that follows will help you get to know her a little better.
Where are you originally from, and what are some of you favorite parts about Seattle?
I grew up in a small town called McKenna, south of Tacoma and east of Olympia. Like much of that part of the state, McKenna was a former lumber town. My family had been there since the early days of the McKenna Lumber Company, where my great grandfather was the chief machinist at the lumber mill around the turn of the last century. I arrived in Seattle about 25 years ago and hope to never leave.
A true Northwesterner, I love the things that many dislike about Seattle: the rain, the dark winters, even the “Seattle Freeze” that comes from living in a city full of introverts. Well, maybe not the rudeness part. But I do like a place where it’s totally acceptable to turn down an invitation for an evening on the town because you’re reading a good book.
How long have you been a nurse practitioner?
I’ve been a nurse practitioner for four years, and I’ve been practicing Obesity Medicine for most of that time. Before becoming a nurse practitioner, I worked for 10 years as an RN in various roles, including hospital floor nurse, office nurse in an OB/Gyn clinic, and school nurse.
What drew you into the field, and what do you love about your job?
I initially went into nursing to be a nurse practitioner because I wanted to be a primary care provider who focused on wellness. I’ve discovered that Obesity Medicine is the ultimate in focusing on wellness. I love that I’m not just putting a Band-Aid on a problem by handing out a pill for blood pressure or diabetes; I help my patients get off their medications because they learn a new way of eating and living, which enables them to find the health that they may have given up on achieving.
What can a new patient expect while with you?
When a patient comes to see me for the first time, we spend some time getting to know each other. I tell the patient what’s on my agenda for the time we have together, and I find out what their goals are for our time. I want to make sure that all concerns are addressed.
My agenda includes the basic medical stuff of vital signs and medical history, and I do a brief, fully clothed physical exam. We also have a pretty in-depth discussion about the patient’s weight and diet history and the reasons they want to lose weight now.
Then it’s time to meet the body composition scale, which provides so much information and allows us to really map progress throughout the journey ahead. I think the first time on the scale is probably a bit intimidating, but it’s over quickly and then we get to learn!
All that takes up about half of the appointment time. The rest of the appointment is an introduction to the physiology of metabolism and the disease of Obesity. I see patients individually because, although much of this material is repeated with every patient, it’s always tailored to whoever is sitting on the couch with me and their individual situation. When the patient leaves our appointment, about 90 minutes after arriving, they’re armed with sufficient information to start making lifestyle changes immediately. We’ll see each other again in 1 to 2 weeks and continue with education and possibly medication. After the second appointment, we’ll meet as often as weekly, but a minimum of once a month.
What is your favorite meal to cook?
I LOVE to cook! My favorite is when the weather gets blustery in the fall. I like to make stews that simmer all day and make the whole house smell amazing. I worship at the feet of Julia Child.
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one ability or quality, what would it be?
Time management and organization. I would love to be one of those people who gets up every morning and sticks with their plan that includes meditation and exercise and writing over a cup of tea before the family gets up and then goes on to check off all the boxes on their to-do list throughout the day. That’s not me at all! I’m lucky if my socks match and I remember to feed the dogs before leaving for work. The to-do list? I’m getting better at that, but it’s definitely a work in progress!