Jane Anderson, DNP, cares a lot– about her patients, students and colleagues. Anderson is a nurse practitioner, professor and director of the University of Minnesota Physicians (M Physicians) Nurse Practitioners Clinic in Minneapolis’ Downtown East neighborhood, a clinic led by nurse practitioners who offer whole-person care for adults, children and families seeking primary care.

For Anderson, to nurture is her nature, which is what led her to pursue nursing and ultimately lead the opening of the Nurse Practitioners Clinic in 2015. 

“It’s always been about relationships for me,” Anderson says, “Developing and fostering connections with patients, students, colleagues and, additionally, the different schools at the U of M.”

Since its inception, the Nurse Practitioners Clinic has been a partnership between the U of M School of Nursing, where Anderson also teaches, and M Physicians. Under her leadership, the clinic provides primary care for patients, access to clinical specialists through M Physicians, and it provides training for nursing and pharmacy students. 

Nurturing a love for care

Anderson’s approach to patient care started well before she attended nursing school. “I had experiences in my childhood with the health and death of a parent. I think many of us have had experiences related to that growing up,” she says, “It informs us as to what we want to do in the world. For me, that was nursing.”

After completing two years of nursing school, Anderson began caring for patients full time in the hospital. In the years following, Anderson grew in her education and experience, ultimately becoming the first nurse practitioner in the Fairview health system in the 1990s. She now has her doctorate in nursing practice in addition to dual family and adult nurse practitioner certifications.

“I continued to grow in my love for nursing and bringing care to patients wherever they are, so much that I went on to help open clinics and introduce nurse practitioners outside of the Twin Cities metro,” she remembers fondly. “I even practiced independently at my own clinic in Excelsior, MN, which I thought would be the pinnacle of my career.” 

What was missing for Anderson, though, was the daily camaraderie and close collaboration with colleagues. So, in 2011, she began teaching as an assistant clinical professor at the U of M School of Nursing. In that time, Anderson developed relationships between patients, students, administrators and colleagues at M Physicians and the U of M Medical School. Then, in 2015, the School of Nursing and M Physicians opened the Nurse Practitioners Clinic with Anderson as the director, where she has been caring for patients, and teaching students, since. 

Opening, leading and practicing at the Nurse Practitioners Clinic

The Nurse Practitioners Clinic arose out of a community need for access to care in a downtown Minneapolis neighborhood. “We were invited by RS Eden, a nonprofit, to open a clinic for residents in their building downtown in addition to community members around the Downtown East area,” Anderson explains. “It was so exciting to start again from bare bones with an architect to build a clinic and create a space that directly meets patients where they are.”

For Anderson, the Nurse Practitioners Clinic team and the downtown community, it was and continues to be important for the clinic to help with the community’s immediate and long-term health needs from providing primary and preventative care to bringing access to specialists for patients who need them. 

“I wanted very much for it to be a clinic where people from any place in life could come and be there, be welcome and have care,” Anderson says. “First it was primarily to serve people from around the neighborhood, but we've grown to have a clinic there, a satellite clinic in South Minneapolis and another clinic on the U of M Twin Cities Campus. They’re really there to meet the needs of patients in those areas.”

Throughout each stage of this growth and change for Anderson, though, one piece has always remained: “Caring for patients. That’s the love of what I do. I lead the clinics and I teach, yes, but caring for and nurturing relationships with patients and colleagues is where it all is for me.”

Each day at the Nurse Practitioners Clinic, that’s what patients, students and colleagues will find Anderson doing: leading, teaching, treating and, throughout it all, caring. “That's something I will not ever give up.”