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Meet Nicolle, YSS Nurse Practitioner

For Nicolle Medina, the best part of working at YSS is improving the quality of life for her patients.

“I feel like that is my purpose,” she says. “When you can put a smile on someone’s face and give them hope—that’s why I’m here.”

Nicolle, who is dual certified in family practice and psychiatric mental health, works at YSS of North Iowa in Mason City. Before coming to YSS in October 2019, she had her own practice for over a decade.

“I have been on my own in the past, and sometimes it’s hard going to work for a company,” Nicolle says. “At YSS, I am able to use my expertise and my patients trust me.”

As a nurse practitioner, Nicolle works with YSS’s psychiatric medication management service, while also providing psychotherapy to clients. She guides patients through treatment including evaluation, assessment, and diagnosis. When appropriate, prescribing medication is used as a tool to address behavioral and mental health disorders.

“Medication management is about assessing the patient and seeing what’s really going on,”Nicolle explains. “I determine whether it’s something that needs medication or if it would be best handled by therapy. Is it a chemical imbalance that needs medication, or is it situational, which means therapy should be first?”

Learning about a patient’s entire story, getting details of their personal lives, and obtaining past medical records helps Nicolle to assess and diagnose them appropriately. She says it’s important for her to put the whole story together in order to properly treat her patients. “People are complex, and you must gather all information before diagnosing and starting on medication,” she says.

Using this information, Nicolle works with the patient on the best course of action.

“I’ve been a nurse practitioner for over 18 years, so I usually know what we’re going to do. Of course, sometimes we can hit it right on the head, but sometimes we need to change or add medications,” she says. “I’ve learned to be a detective and be one step ahead.”

Three days a week, Medina takes in-person visits in Mason City, while Fridays are reserved for telehealth appointments. She not only handles medication management, but also incorporates psychotherapy in her visits. Additionally, her job involves educating patients and parents on the medications she’s prescribing, as well as handling refills and phone calls.

One thing Nicolle says is a common misperception is that she only works with kids. YSS provides psychiatric medication management to people of all ages—including children, adolescents, and adults.

Nicolle admits that working in this field can sometimes be mentally tough on the provider, but says that for her, it’s worth it.

“When I have someone who is suicidal and the medications help them no longer feel that way, when I have a patient come in and they’re excited to see me—that’s what makes me know, ‘This is what I’m supposed to be doing,’” Nicolle says.

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