Doctor of Public Health, Masters Public Health, Physician Assistant-Clinical, Professor, Mentor, Advocate
My lengthy career in health began with a BA in Biology from Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. I was originally drawn to geriatric medicine because of my sweet and loving grandparents. I saw many elders were lonely at the end of their lives, with health and social needs often ignored. My drive was to help the elderly remain functional for as long as possible. My mom, as an elementary school teacher and counselor, doted on children in the grocery store or at church while I enjoyed interacting with those over 80. What I found from giving clinical care to the elderly is that they had much to share if someone would listen. I learned fascinating history from seniors, especially while working at a Veterans Hospital. It was a win-win endeavor as we enriched one another’s lives. I have carried that win-win approach with me throughout my work. I like to give but so often find I “get back” just as much or more.
As a clinician, I strive to serve as a partner with my patients. I’ll offer them the best clinical advice but I don’t let it bother me when a patient chooses another route. My role is to inform them, e.g. “stop smoking,” “exercise more,” or “take your blood pressure pill” but if they choose to ignore the advice, that is on them. Too often clinical medicine can be a bit formulaic. I want the patients to have input and assume some responsibility for their health outcomes. People know they need to lose weight and eat right and stay out of the sun – we also all know it is not so easy to adhere to every best practice.
Masters Public Health (MPH)
After being a clinical provider for a few years, I pursued advanced degrees in public health as I knew that public health endeavors could positively affect more people. The public health approach involves assessing a “target population” and getting input from their members to affect change. Public health advances in our lifetime include—
1. The Surgeon General noting that tobacco is a killer and then people changing their approach to tobacco use;
2. Seat belt laws—starting at the state level and gradually changing to a federal mandate;
3. Counties and localities choosing to ban smoking in restaurants and public buildings;
4. Vaccination laws;
5. Healthy school lunches;
as well as many others.
Educator, Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
In 2008 colleagues encouraged me to apply for positions at George Mason University where programs in public health were newly established. I became an Assistant Professor and Community Health Internship Coordinator in the Department of Global and Community Health. During my time as a full-time educator (2009-2015), I grew the B.S. degree program in Community Health from about 80 students to over 500. I prioritized helping the first members in their family to obtain their college degrees. Some succeeded brilliantly, going on to medical or dental school; some barely got through. I advocated for the vulnerable and those who struggled. I continue helping young people pursue degrees in health care fields as an adjunct professor at George Mason.
Advocate for Vulnerable
As I advocated for the elderly while running the geriatric clinic at the George Washington University, I also began to advocate for other vulnerable populations such as the poor and homeless. In 1997 I accepted a position of Community Service faculty member at GWU’s Physician Assistant program. I was honored to be a part of the large-scale School of Medicine and Health Sciences community service outreach program called ISCOPES (Interdisciplinary Student Community-Oriented Prevention Enhancement Service). In that program we brought together many types of students (PA, Nurse Practitioner, MD, PT, Master’s of Health Admin, Master’s of Public Health) to do outreach in the Washington DC community. We worked with low-income clinics, schools, homeless shelters, etc. During that time, I also started a monthly foot clinic for the homeless that ran for 10 years. After the Director of ISCOPES resigned, I took over as Director.
Director of Operations, FQHC
I served as the Director of Operations at a Federally-Qualified Health Center in Prince William County, Virginia where I gained hands-on knowledge of the strategic, operational, administrative and clinical challenges faced at a busy community health center. At the FQHC I found my public health perspective, extensive writing experience and passion for helping the vulnerable were all put to their full use each and every day. I worked with the Board of Directors and senior center leadership to ensure the center’s operations were fully aligned with the Board’s strategic directions. I led the center’s preparation for a HRSA site visit including rewriting most of the center’s policies and procedures, too many of which no longer reflected best practices. I authored multiple successful grant applications that helped expand the service offerings of the center and helped keep us on a sound financial footing. I was able to boost the morale of the entire staff by advocating for their needs, increasing opportunities for advanced training and recognizing superior performance. Most importantly I was able to demonstrably improve the lives of the under served in our community.
My passion is caring for the vulnerable without being paternalistic. I like people to do their best, using what they have to make their lives better. If they are not fortunate to have some opportunities I feel our society must take substantive steps to help even the playing field.
Merrill, R., Frankenfeld, C., Mink, M. & N.Freeborne. Behavioral Epidemiology. Jones & Bartlett
Referred Journal Articles:
Perceived social support and the risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study. Freeborne N, Simmens SJ, Manson JE, Howard BV, Cené CW, Allison MA, Corbie-Smith G, Bell CL, Denburg NL, Martin LW. Menopause. 2019 Jul;26(7):698-707. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001297.
Barnato, A. Labor, R. Freeborne, N., Jayes, R. Campbell, J. & Lynn, J. Qualitative Analysis of Medicare Claims in the Last 3 Years of Life: A Pilot Study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 2005; 53:1, 66-73
Freeborne, N, Lynn, J, & Desbiens, NA. Insights About Dying from the SUPPORT Project. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 2000; 48(5): S1999-205.
Freeborne, N. The Collected Reports from SUPPORT and HELP: An Annotated Bibliography of Manuscripts in print as of December 31, 1999, and SUPPORT Prognostic Formulas. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 2000; 48(5): S222-233
Freeborne, N. Alzheimer’s Disease: The Possibility of Prevention and Early Treatment. Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants 2000; 13 (4):32-38.
Freeborne, N. The Functionally Oriented Assessment of the Geriatric Patient Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants 1994; 7 (3):158-66.
Freeborne, N. Overhauling an Old Engine. Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants 1990; 3 (6):482–83.