A Sole Provider’s Path through Iowa Wesleyan
Claire Harapat’s road to becoming a nurse practitioner and opening a sole-provider clinic in Kalona, Iowa has been a mix of hard work, perseverance, and serendipity — and Iowa Wesleyan helped her go further than she’d ever dreamed.
“I was looking to go back to school for my RN-BSN and was looking at several schools,” Harapat said. “My nurse manager (at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics) discussed Iowa Wesleyan with me. I contacted the school and was very impressed with the entire process from the first phone call to being accepted into the program. The experience was above and beyond what the other schools offered.”
Claire admits that college was tough for her. The mother of three started school when her twins were two years old. “I had three kids, a husband, and a full-time job, volunteered as a first-responder and now was going to try to throw college into the mix.”
The 2012 graduate vividly recalls her first day: “I was a non-traditional student and went to Mount Pleasant on my evenings off work. This was my first college class in years, and I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. I was wondering if this was the right decision, then in walks our professor, Lisa Kongable ’86. Talk about amazing! She made the room light up and kept the energy high. You could tell she loved to teach and had a passion, not only for nursing but for all her students. From that point on, I knew I was in the right place.”
Toward the end of her time at Iowa Wesleyan, Claire knew she was going to continue her education and work towards a master’s degree. Along with some assistance, she received from Iowa Wesleyan advisors, she decided that becoming a family nurse practitioner was her end goal. Iowa Wesleyan ignited Harapat’s passion as a nurse practitioner.
Still working at the University of Iowa Hospital, she was approached by the Washington County Hospitals and Clinics about opening a clinic in Kalona. “This was something the CEO of the hospital had on his list of goals, but they needed a provider to staff the clinic.”
Harapat had established quite the reputation for herself as a neonatal nurse at the university hospital; a career choice that first sparked in her mind during the birth of her oldest child, Allison. “She spent 10 days in the NICU with meconium aspiration,” she said. “It was a stressful time. So many machines, medicines and sounds that are scary, all happening around your child who is supposed to be happy, healthy and in the mother-baby unit room with you.”
Then a few years later, Harapat again had a difficult delivery with her twins spending considerable time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. “It was when the twins were in the NICU that I decided, someday, somehow, I wanted to give back what I was getting from the doctors and nurses in the NICU. The compassion and care were amazing. Especially when you have no idea what is happening and why it is happening to your child.”
During her career as a neonatal nurse, Claire had the opportunity to help hundreds of families and babies. “I will remember these patients for the rest of my life.”
Today she operates a nurse practitioner clinic in Kalona as the sole provider, with the assistance of a nurse and front-office receptionist. “There are challenges every day,” Harapat said. “I am not only learning how to treat illnesses but also teaching patients to be healthy and seeing them for wellness exams. Every day is different from the day before. Rarely does anyone present with a textbook illness. You have to be a good detective on this job.”