Hidalgo named New Mexico's 2013 State Award for Excellence recipient

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A local 22-year veteran nurse practitioner has been honored by her peers with the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners 2013 State Award for Excellence.

Therese Hidalgo was recognized for her accomplishment at the New Mexico Nurse Practitioner State Conference and will be presented with the award during next month's AANP's 28th National Conference.

The award recognizes nurse practitioners who demonstrate outstanding clinical achievements and excellence, said Beverly McLemore, AANP's communications project coordinator.

"It's the epitome of a nurse practitioner," McLemore said. "It's being a role model for all nurse practitioners."

Hidalgo juggles being a wife, mother of three boys, grandmother and Middle Rio Grande farmer with advocating for women's and adolescent health issues, working as a nurse practitioner in rural areas and educating the next set of nurse practitioners, said Diana Sanchez-Gallegos, the nurse practitioner who nominated Hidalgo.

"Her education, skills, experience and community involvement reflect the strong, independent female medical practitioner that she is," Sanchez-Gallegos said.

The Jarales resident is particularly proud of her profile published in the book, "Big Doctoring in America: Profiles in Primary Care." The chapter describing why she wanted to be a nurse practitioner and what primary care needs a nurse practitioner can meet is titled, "Proud to Be a Nurse."

"I'm proud of the fact that I came at a time in health care when Valencia County and much of New Mexico didn't know much about what nurse practitioners could do or what it would be like," she said.

In 1979, Hidalgo graduated with her Bachelor's of Science degree in nursing from the University of New Mexico's College of Nursing.

As a nurse, she said she was limited by what care she could provide, which is what sent her back to school.

"As a primary care provider, you're a partner with your patient and you develop a relationship with them where you can help them stay healthy and help them work through their health issues with education, referrals and medical management, because we work together as a team to keep them healthy," she said.

More than 10 years later, she became one of eight students who were a part of the first graduating class from UNM's College of Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner Program. She received a Master's of Science in nursing and family nurse practitioner.

The goal of this program was to place providers in rural areas where medical services are scarce. She practiced in Presbyterian's Urgent Care Clinic in Belen, where she was previously a nurse in the former Belen General Hospital, until retiring in 2009.

But her work as a medical provider didn't end there.

She joined Belen High School's School Based Health Center before working at the New Mexico Department of Health's Office of School and Adolescent Health as a SBHC clinical operations program manager.

Later, she served uninsured patients in Los Lunas as part of the former Valencia Family Medicine.

"Now I'm wanting to hand over the baton and wanting to educate more nurse practitioners to fill the gaps of health care and needs of rural New Mexico," she said.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.