By Philip Haldiman
Early in life, Anthony and Amy Msowoya knew they wanted careers in health care, but it was only later they knew they would practice together.
Mr. Msowoya became interested in the medical field growing up in Tanzania from his godfather, who is an OB-GYN of more than three decades.
Ms. Msowoya said there was never a time when she was not interested in health care.
But it really solidified in high school.
“My grandma got sick and was in and out of the hospital for months before she passed away,” Ms. Msowoya said. “I saw the nursing staff. They were there when my grandmother was scared and when she was in pain and when we were all afraid. And I said, ‘that is what I want to do.’”
Later in life the two crossed paths without knowing it while attending ASU in the nursing program, participating in clubs and classes but never actually meeting.
Finally after becoming nurses, they met while working at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in 2012, then both returned to graduate school to pursue nurse practitioner degrees. They got married in 2016.
They are about to start a unique business — a family practice owned by a husband and wife team of nurse practitioners.
Karibu Family Care is a full service family practice that offers nearly everything a medical doctor offers: well child checks, physicals, acute/chronic disease management and in-office procedures/testing.
The business will open March 18.
The practice accepts the following insurance carriers: Medicare Part B, United Healthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Arizona Foundation for Medical Care, with more carriers expected to follow. Discounted private pay options are also available.
Karibu means welcome in Swahili.
Ms. Msowoya said the meaning of the word meant so much to them they decided it should be the name of their practice.
“And we stand by it,” she said. “Everybody should come here feeling welcome, and welcome to come back as much as they need to, or as little as they need to, but also that they were heard. That’s our whole name. So come in be happy. We want to walk into our door and remind ourselves that is why we are here. To make people feel welcome, first and foremost, because everything else is technical. And that’s how wonderful things happen. That’s how wellness happens.”
Filling a gap
Primary care physicians are estimated to reach a shortage of between 8,700 and 43,100 physicians by 2030, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Nurse Practitioners are filling that gap.
The role of the NP has grown steadily since 1965 when the late Harry Silvers, a physician, and Loretta Ford, a pediatric nurse, started the first NP program at the University of Colorado.
Denise Link, a nurse practitioner and clinical professor at Arizona State University, said the number of NPs has grown from 68,300 in 1999 and 140,000 in 2010 to 248,000 in 2018.
She said nearly 90 percent of NPs are educated in a wide variety of primary care — family practice, women’s health, pediatrics, adult/gerontology and specialty practices.
This is because they can do some of what a family medical doctor can do.
A nurse practitioner can not perform surgery, but they can prescribe medications and diagnose conditions just as a doctor can.
Ms. Link said it has been demonstrated that NPs serve a need in society that would be there even if there were sufficient numbers and distribution of physicians, and many people see an NP as their provider of choice.
“It is important for everyone to be able to choose who they want for a healthcare provider. There is more than 40 years of research on NP practice in all types of settings with all types of people with all types of health care needs. NPs receive excellent evaluations in studies of patient satisfaction,” she said. “The evidence is overwhelmingly positive and shows that, with the education they have, NPs meet or exceed the standard of care set by healthcare quality experts like the Institute of Medicine and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. These studies are conducted by nursing and non-nursing researchers, and are published in peer reviewed journals in medicine, nursing, health regulation, and policy journals.”
Practicing in Arizona
One of the benefits of practicing in Arizona, along with about 25 other states, is that NPs are licensed independent professionals, meaning they can see patients on their own license, prescribe medications (including controlled substances), order and interpret tests and diagnostic procedures, refer patients to other healthcare professionals, be medical directors for healthcare agencies, and open and manage practices without being required to have a contractual or business relationship with another discipline or physician.
Ms. Link said NPs can prescribe in all 50 states, but some states restrict prescribing or require the NP to have a contract or “collaborative practice agreement” with a physician for that privilege.
NPs are regulated by the Arizona Board of Nursing and the legislature determines the boundaries of their practice through the Arizona Nurse Practice Act.
“Just like our physician colleagues, when there is a need to consult with another clinician to provide the best care for a patient, we do that. Every healthcare professional works with people from a variety of disciplines; some teams are more formally organized than others, but we all work with each other for the benefit of the patient,” Ms. Link said. “The difference is that we do that in Arizona because it is the right and ethical thing to do, not because we are mandated to do that. In that way, each NP is responsible and accountable to the public for his or her actions.”
NPs require at least six to eight years of education and training, including a masters degree, while medical doctors usually require more than 10 years of education and training, including a medical degree from an accredited medical college, and a completed residency program.
But Ms. Link points out that nursing and medicine are two distinct disciplines and because of that, their educational programs are also different, comparing the difference to the preparation of engineers and architects.
“Those two disciplines have different programs of study and share a lot of content knowledge, but I think that it is generally acknowledged that they are different disciplines in important ways, and both serve a social purpose,” she said.
One of the reasons Mr. Msowoya chose to be a nurse practitioner is the amount of schooling and training a medial doctor requires and the rising cost of tuition.
“Education was a big part of my family growing up, and I knew I wanted to come here for my education. But international school is very expensive,” he said.
Together the Msowoyas form a well rounded sensitivity.
Ms. Msowoya is a hometown Peoria girl — she is a product of Frontier Elementary and Sunrise Mountain High School. She received her Doctor of Nursing Practice and her Masters of Science in Nursing from University of Arizona, as well as her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Arizona State University.
Mr. Msowoya hails from Tanzania, home to the Serengeti and Kilimanjaro Mountain.
He received his Masters of Nursing at Grand Canyon University and his Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Arizona State University and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2014.
Together they have made Peoria their home and place of employment.
And the patient may choose their clinician. But Ms. Msowoya said you get two for the price of one.
Mr. Msowoya said early on he knew it was the right decision to open a practice together.
“When she said let’s do this, a fire in me just came out of nowhere,” he said “I feel like we speak the same language. We may have our own ideas and opinions, but we always respect each other. We are a good team.”
If you go
What: Karibu Family Care, a full service nurse practitioner practice
Who: Nurse Practitioners Tony and Amy Msowoya
Where: 20542 N. Lake Pleasant Rd, Suite 105
More info: karibufamilycare.com