Meet the Candidates NDNPA Ballot






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Meet the Candidates NDNPA Ballot

Vice President/President elect (vote for one)

Deborah Nelson

Deborah Nelson is seeking the position of Vice President for the North Dakota Nurse Practitioner Association. She has over 30 years of nursing and leadership

experience. She completed her graduate studies in Nursing in 1997 at the University of Minnesota and spent 15 years managing Fargo Cass Public Health Clinic – a nurse run clinic. She is currently working at the NDSU Student Health Clinic in Fargo. Deb has experience in numerous nursing organizations including the North Dakota Nurses Association (NDNA) serving both at the local and state level. She served 6 years on the NDNA Board of Directors, 3 of those as Vice President of the organization. For her work for the Nurses Association, Deb was selected as Nurse of the Year at the State level in 1995 and locally in 2005. Deb also has served 28 years in the US Army Reserve attaining the rank of Colonel, serving as Commander of her medical unit. She is a

graduate of the prestigious US Army War College which bestows a Master’s in Strategic Studies. She is especially proud of this accomplishment since the College only accepts two Army Nurse Corps Officers a year into their program. She has been awarded numerous medals including the Meritorious Service Ribbon, Army Commendation Medal and Overseas Service Ribbon with two Bronze Stars. In her younger days, Deb’s pastime was taking out student loans for graduate schools including her third master’s, a MBA from Moorhead State University (yes, she belongs to three alumni associations!). In this season of her life Deb finds balance in gardening, spending time as Nana, and her recent passion in the fiber arts.


Member at Large (vote for two)

Heidi Saarinen, DNP, APRN, FNP-C

I have been a FNP since 2010 and have developed a love of patient education and sleep medicine since working in the Sleep Medicine Department for the last 4 years at Sanford Health in Fargo, ND. I currently make my home in Moorhead, MN and have a great

appreciation for the Fargo-Moorhead Community. I joined the faculty for the North Dakota State University DNP FNP Program this fall out of my passion for education. I have truly

enjoyed how diverse the nursing profession is and all the ways we can contribute to nursing. I continue to work one day per week in Sleep Medicine to keep my skills current and I plan to precept NP students there as well.

I have practiced nursing since I graduated in 2005. I started out in on the rehabilitation unit and was involved in wound care and charge nursing. I cross-trained to the

medical/surgical, orthopedic, palliative care, and eating disorders units. I was humbled by the privilege of experiencing the true heart of the nursing profession by establishing relationships with my patients. Really getting to know my patients and stablishing rapport with them led me to become a nurse practitioner.

I am married to Seth, have 1 son, Rafe. I enjoy continuing my education, while nurturing my hobbies of photography and running/nutrition.

With all of the changes in health care that our country is facing, I am encouraged to stretch myself into new leadership roles that echo the call that started the nursing profession and look forward to growing in this role to further advance the profession and nurses/APRN’s in our state

Mark Koivula MSN FNP-C

My name is Mark Koivula and I am running for a position as Member-at-Large for the North Dakota Nurse Practitioner Association. I am a nurse practitioner at CHI St. Alexius Heart & Lung Clinic. I also work "help out" at Mid Dakota Clinic in their Today clinic. I graduated with my BSN from Minot State University in 1994 and my MSN from University of Mary in 2009. When I graduated with my FNP degree, I had the opportunity to help develop the LTC program at MDC which has been both quite challenging as well as rewarding. I have always been interested in belonging to my member organizations. While pursuing my undergraduate degree


at Minot State University, I was president of the Student Nurses Association. I have been the Treasurer for our North Dakota Nurse Practitioner Association for the past four years now and have also been involved in the planning of the Pharmacology Conferences for the past 5 years. The past four years as Treasurer have been educational and challenging. I feel my greatest accomplishment during this time was finalizing our “nonprofit” status.

I am married and have two children. My hobbies include traveling, kayaking and landscaping (believe it or not!). Applying for Member-at-Large with the NDNPA will be a great opportunity for me to remain active in our great organization. I would appreciate your vote and look forward to this continued challenge!

Leah Neugebauer MSN, APRN, FNP - C, WHNP - BC

Hello! I am Leah Neugebauer, MSN, APRN, FNP - C, WHNP - BC. I would appreciate your consideration for a position as Board Member-at-Large with the North Dakota Nurse Practitioner Association. I am a lifelong resident of North Dakota, and love it here. I completed my BSN in 2005 at MedCenter One College of Nursing. Upon graduation, my nursing career began at MedCenter One on the Birth Center, and continued until 2011. In September 2010, I earned my MSN, with a specialty in Women’s Health from University of Cincinnati. I began working as a locum WHNP in Fort Yates, ND at the Indian Health Services clinic providing services to the woman of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. I wanted to broaden my scope of practice and completed a Post-Master’s Certificate in Family NP at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine in June of 2013.

I was lucky enough to be hired fulltime for the IHS clinic in 2013 providing Family and

Women’s Health care. I love my job and especially my profession. In my current job, I am a member of the Medical Executive Committee, Policy Committee, and I am the local STD expert for the Standing Rock Indian Reservation and have experience working closely with the CDC during a large syphilis outbreak.

I am blessed to have the opportunity to work in a profession that is personally and

professionally fulfilling. I am a member of AANP, NDNPA, and NPWH (Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health), and the National Health Service Corp. This past year I joined the NDNPA Pharmacology Conference Planning Committee. I have enjoyed being on the committee and look forward to the opportunity to build and expand our profession at the State level.


I am married to Brice and we live in Mandan on the beautiful Missouri River with our three children Aria, age 11; Sage, age 9; & Evan, age 2. I enjoy spending time on our boat on the river, bonfires, reading, cooking healthy meals, and being with friends and family

Tara Brander MSN FNP-C

I was born and raised in Ashley, North Dakota. I currently work as a FNP at the Ashley Medical Center where I also serve as the Quality Control Coordinator and Wellness Program Coordinator. I attended undergrad school at the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND. During my time at the University of Mary I was active in the Nursing Peer Mentor Program, Student Development Senior Class Representative, and served on the University of Mary's Student Nursing Association and the North Dakota State Nursing Student Association as the director of publicity and communication.

As a nurse I served on nursing cabinet, rounding committee, Lean Six Sigma, and the

professional practice committee at CHI St. Alexius Medical Center. Currently, I am enrolled in the DNP program at the George Washington University which I will complete in May 2016. I am a member of the George Washington University Golden Key Honor Society, Phi Epsilon Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, a Jonas Nurse Leader Scholar recipient, and a member of AANP.

Working in the rural settings as a nurse practitioner has sparked a passion to become actively involved with the NDNPA. Being elected as a member at large would allow me to have a roll in the healthcare changes and advancements that affect North Dakota. It also would allow me to support North Dakota nurse practitioners by being a voice of change. I would be honored to be elected into the role of member at large for the North Dakota Nurse Practitioner


Publicity Chair (vote for one)

Dean Gross PhD, FNP-BC

I am a lifelong resident of North Dakota. My college education started at the University of Mary where I received my BSN (1982). While at the University of Mary I was introduced to the NP role by my community health instructor (a FNP) and immediately knew what I wanted to do with my nursing education. In 1985 I enrolled at the University of Kentucky for my MS/FNP, graduating in 1987. After graduation I returned to Fargo and took a position at NDSU as an Assistant Professor. I have been with NDSU since 1987 except for a three-year period at UND where I coordinated the NP program. I returned to school in 1991 to pursue my PhD at Rush University and graduated from Rush in 1998.

In 2001 NDSU/MSUM/Concordia decided to start a master’s program, I was hired to develop the FNP curriculum and direct the NP program. In 2005 NDSU graduated our first DNP/FNP student; we now have 75 graduates from our DNP program.

I have practiced nursing since I graduated in 1982. Started out in the ICU and moved to the ED to provide background for my NP education. I continued in the ED as a RN until 1987. In the


fall of 1987 I was employed by the NDSU nursing department and took a one day a week position as a FNP in Ulen, MN as a FNP. I have continued my day a week in Ulen for over 27 years; the clinical practice has allowed me to keep current of what is expected on the NP in a rural site. In addition, my practice has allowed me to precept NP students one day per week. I am married (Carla), have three children.

Thank you for considering me for the position publicity chair. The NP role has been a lifelong passion. I hope I am given the opportunity to contribute to the state organization.

Treasurer (vote for one)

Jana Zwilling APRN, MS, FNP-C

I appreciate your consideration for the position of treasurer for the North Dakota Nurse Practitioner Association. I have been a member since 2007, initially as an FNP student. I am excited for the potential opportunity to serve as a board member.

I am currently the Director of the Family Nurse Practitioner Program at the University of North Dakota. I have been in academics since 2011 while maintaining my clinical practice at Altru Health System in Occupational Medicine.

My undergraduate degree is from The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN. I spent seven years as an RN in the Air Force serving in multiple different clinical areas as well as geographical areas, and ended as the Flight Commander and Nurse Manager of the Primary Care Clinic at Grand Forks AFB. I completed my MS in FNP at UND in 2008. I was Vice President of the Student Nurses Association for the last two years of my undergrad degree. I have been a member of the AANP since 2006 and a member of NONPF since 2013.

During my “free” time, I enjoy being outdoors and spending time with my husband of 15 years and our three children, ages 10, 7, and 2. I enjoy watersports, traveling, and camping.

I truly believe NPs are the healthcare of the future. I am looking forward to learning from all of you, figuring out your needs and roadblocks to your success so we can work towards chipping away at any barriers to our practices. We need to provide a vision for our career field while serving the healthcare needs of North Dakota. Thank you for your





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