Family Nurse Practitioner Karla Parkes has worked and attended school at a variety of locations across the eastern half of the US prior to coming to Walhalla. Originally from the Detroit, Michigan, area, Parkes did not know exactly what she wanted to do after high school.
“I kind of fell into this profession,” said Parkes. “I was in college as a business major, and I hated it. I kept taking science classes that I loved. One day my dad said, ‘If you don’t figure it out, I am not going to keep paying for school.’ I had the curriculum book in front of me and opened it where it randomly landed on nursing. I blurted out, ‘I am going to be a nurse!’”
This put Parkes on the path to a career in medicine and discovering a love for caring for patients. She graduated from nursing school in 1984 from the Sisters of Mercy School of Nursing in Detroit, Michigan. She finished her Bachelor of Science degree from National Louis University in Chicago, IL, in 2001.
“As an RN, I worked in the open-heart surgery units, the intensive care units and emergency rooms,” said Parkes. “I loved it, but after 20 years I started to get bored and again returned to school thinking I would go into management. I did some sales and management work in nursing and missed the bedside; I missed being with patients. I was online one day and saw USF [University of South Florida] had a Native Nursing Studies,” she continues. “I thought that would be interesting and called to inquire. As I am a member of the Cherokee nation, I qualified for an Indian Health Scholarship. Once again, I just kind of fell back into nursing. It is where I belong, at the bedside caring for my patients.”
Parkes completed her Master of Science and post master’s degrees from the USF in Tampa, Florida. She has an advanced degree as an Adult Nurse Practitioner and a post graduate certificate in family medicine. Parkes was in South Dakota prior to moving to Walhalla.
Parkes began seeing patients at the Walhalla Clinic in mid-September. Her schedule at the clinic is Monday – Thursday 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 pm. She will be at the Walhalla Clinic most days, but there will also be some emergency room call and Saturday clinics she will be available at in Langdon. She and her husband, Stephen, who is also from the Detroit area, are comfortable in their new surroundings.
“Stephen and I feel very grateful to have this opportunity to move here to this beautiful place,” said Parkes. “We look forward to becoming part of the community and getting to know all of our new friends and neighbors.”