After 20 years of practicing medicine in Sandy, nurse practitioner Kim Tinker plans to retire in 2019.
For the past seven years, Tinker, 62, has acted as the main practitioner at the Sandy School-Based Health Center at Sandy High School, 37400 Bell Street. Before that she was already a fixture in the community, having served people at the Firwood Legacy Clinic for 12 years. Patients from Firwood even followed her from the clinic to the school-based center when she left.
Though the Portland native's original aspiration was veterinary medicine, she said she's enjoyed her time as a nurse.
"I appreciate helping people and having the ability to have a lot of variety within my profession," she noted.
Tinker studied to become a registered nurse at OHSU and received her master's degree in nursing from the Intercollegiate Center for Nursing Education through Whitworth University.
When approached by members of the Oregon Trail School District about coming to the health center, she was impressed by the medical model of the new clinic.
"The SBHC is very holistic," she explained. "Kids are screened for mental health, dental, nutritional needs. Giving kids healthcare where there are no barriers to access I decided was kind of my cup of tea. You're kind of heading off all of these issues at the pass. If all of these needs are being met, students can learn better."
Though she's not a teacher, Tinker has appreciated the somewhat educational role she's played in students' lives.
"I see kids make changes when you educate them on health maintenance," Tinker said. "If we can convince these kids to live healthy lifestyles, that 85 percent that need chronic healthcare would disappear and we'd solve our healthcare crisis."
The challenge Tinker said she has faced in her time at the health center was "always getting the kids the resources that they need."
"It's difficult if there are insurance issues if they need something outside the clinic walls," she noted. "Because they're kids, you also have to take the bull by the horns (and advocate for their health)."
In her retirement, Tinker looks forward to having more time for her other passions: skijoring and organic farming.
"This job has not allowed me to go to a lot of (skijoring and dogsledding) races, so it will be fun to get back into that," she said.
Tinker's replacement has already begun to see patients. Kaley Archibald-Goers, a Sandy High graduate, will officially take over at the center after Jan. 7.