Advanced Practitioner Testimonials

“Physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs)  are the health care professionals of choice for millions of Americans. PAs and NPs are uniquely positioned to treat patients who have excess weight or obesity because they are trained in primary care with an emphasis on disease prevention and health management. PAs and NPs care for the patient as well as the patient’s obesity and obesity-related conditions.

The advanced practitioner committee created this page to show the diversity of health care professionals practicing obesity medicine. Ultimately, we all have the same goal to prevent, treat, and reverse the disease of obesity in our patients."

Jill RatanaphruksJill Ratanaphruks, RN, MSN, FNP-C
Cary, N.C.


How long have you practiced obesity medicine?

Click on the images to view each person's answers.

  • Karli Burridge, PA-C
  • Melissa Crawford, FNP-C
  • Mary Salter, DNP, ARNP, NP-C, FAANP
  • Karli Burridge, PA-C
    Keller, Texas
    I have been practicing obesity medicine for a little over three years. I worked in bariatric surgery for three years and also established a medical (non-surgical) weight-loss program. Currently I am practicing non-surgical obesity medicine.

  • Melissa Crawford, FNP-C
    Fargo, N.D.
    I have been practicing obesity medicine since graduating from my NP program in 2012. I had already been working in obesity medicine as a BSN in a practice and helping to develop the first-ever private specialty clinic of its type in our region. In 2014, I opened a primary care practice where the focus is on weight loss and managing illness by reducing weight. This practice utilizes insurance. With such an epidemic on our hands, I thought more providers needed to be fighting this fight.

  • Mary Salter, DNP, ARNP, NP-C, FAANP
    Omaha, Neb.
    I have been practicing obesity medicine since 2004. At that time I was selected to lead the development and implementation of the bariatric surgery program for the VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System (NWI). I spearheaded the establishment and application of the VISN 23 Bariatric Surgery Program in conjunction with the VISN 23 Obesity Workgroup. I also led the initial development and integration of the NWI MOVE! Weight Management Program for Veterans by planning and implementing a multidisciplinary, intensive weight-management program.


How do you work with or interact with patients in your practice?

Click on the images to view each person's answers.

  • Melissa Crawford, FNP-C
  • Mary Salter, DNP, ARNP, NP-C, FAANP
  • Karli Burridge, PA-C
  • Melissa Crawford, FNP-C
    Fargo, N.D.
    I work in a primary care and weight-management clinic. I use low-carb guidelines with adequate protein, a team approach, and behavioral therapy modifications. Many patients have given up on their health and themselves. We create a different climate – a totally new environment – to help patients with their weight. Most of the time, they looked for answers but felt that the medical system failed them.

  • Mary Salter, DNP, ARNP, NP-C, FAANP
    Omaha, Neb.
    My bariatric surgery practice involves a multidisciplinary team and encompasses a five-state area in the Midwest region, which includes eight VA medical centers. We use a hub-and-spoke referral model. Liaison case managers are located at each VA medical center to educate and support patients, facilitate patients’ progress through a surgery algorithm, and coordinate long-term follow-up care with their local MOVE! physician champions, dietitians, and psychologists. Patients travel to the VA Nebraska-Western Iowa facility only for the surgical procedure and immediate post-operative care. We maintain team communication through phone calls and shared electronic medical records.

    I provide ongoing training for the liaisons and other interested providers. I also provide patient education, medical appointments through inpatient rounding, outpatient face-to-face clinic appointments, telemedicine video appointments, and telephone contact. In addition, I participate in research activities as a primary investigator to evaluate outcomes and to validate the best practices of our program.

  • Karli Burridge, PA-C
    Keller, Texas
    I conduct a thorough medical work-up, including labs and EKG, prior to starting a patient on a program. I also obtain a thorough weight history and work with the patient to put together a plan that suits their individual needs. This is all very similar to what my supervising physician would do. I tend to spend more time on health behaviors, such as stress management, sleep, etc, than my supervising physician does. If I have questions or concerns about a patient, I can always turn to my supervising physician for guidance.


Describe a meaningful experience or interaction you've had with a patient.

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  • Amy Ingersoll, PA-C
  • Mary Salter, DNP, ARNP, NP-C, FAANP
  • Melissa Crawford, FNP-C
  • Amy Ingersoll, PA-C
    Phoenix
    Sometimes, it’s the simple things in life we don’t think about that can be special for patients. A couple who chose to make a lifestyle change together came to me for a nine-month follow-up after losing a combined weight of more than 100 pounds. The husband came off five blood pressure medications, the wife’s lipid panel improved immensely, but more than that, the impact on their happiness showed most. When asked the best part, the wife said, “We can hug closer now.”

  • Mary Salter, DNP, ARNP, NP-C, FAANP
    Omaha, Neb.
    Each patient is special and enjoys many benefits from weight loss. The most meaningful experiences for me are when patients accomplish a lifestyle goal, such as going fishing or playing on the floor with their grandchildren.

  • Melissa Crawford, FNP-C
    Fargo, N.D.
    I have had the honor to be part of many of my patients’ weight-loss journeys over the years. I’ve been treating a 63-year-old woman for almost a year. When she started, she was affected by morbid obesity and had a multitude of medical conditions: DM II, heart disease, osteoarthritis, and glaucoma, to name a few. She reduced her carb intake and lost almost 40 pounds, which is about 12 percent of her body weight. Before the end of one of her visits, she said she wanted to thank me, not only for the weight loss I helped her achieve, but for the kind words and encouragement and for helping her understand why she had to get rid of carbs and sugar.


What advice would you give to other NPs and PAs who are interested in practicing obesity medicine?

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  • Melissa Crawford, FNP-C
  • Karli Burridge, PA-C
  • Amy Ingersoll, PA-C
  • Melissa Crawford, FNP-C
    Fargo, N.D.
    First of all, join OMA. Membership is worth it for the education, but also for the support. Take an active role in OMA, join committees, and find a mentor. Talk to providers at conferences, call providers who work in different types of clinics or practice set-ups.

  • Karli Burridge, PA-C
    Keller, Texas
    I would give the same advice that was given to me: Join OMA, join the LinkedIn group, and go to a conference (the one-day Obesity Medicine Basics course is a GREAT place to start). If you go to one of the biannual conferences, sign up as a mentee so you can get paired with a mentor. Not only will you learn a lot from them, but it will make the conference so much more enjoyable because you are able to make great social connections. Also, visit FindObesityTreatment.org and find a provider in your area who is an OMA member; see if you can shadow them.

  • Amy Ingersoll, PA-C
    Phoenix
    Go to a conference. Find a mentor. Before practicing obesity medicine, you need to have a basic understanding of the science behind it. There are others out there who have been here, just starting out. Find someone who practices how you want to practice, and utilize them.


How has being a member of OMA influenced the way you practice?

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  • Mary Salter, DNP, ARNP, NP-C, FAANP
  • Karli Burridge, PA-C
  • Amy Ingersoll, PA-C
  • Mary Salter, DNP, ARNP, NP-C, FAANP
    Omaha, Neb.
    I have been a member of OMA since 2008. Through the use of the Obesity Algorithm®, OMA keeps me up to date about new treatments and medications as they are developed and approved. The education, networking, and support has been invaluable in maintaining and improving my practice.

  • Karli Burridge, PA-C
    Keller, Texas
    It has completely shaped the way I practice. I knew that I wanted to learn more about the medical treatment of obesity, but I wasn’t sure where to start. The Obesity Medicine Basics course gave a great overview of obesity medicine. The people I’ve met through OMA have been absolutely amazing and so helpful! Everyone is willing to share their knowledge and their resources with you. The LinkedIn group has taught me so much, from getting answers to my questions to reading discussions about things I would not have known to ask about. I landed my current position by contacting a fellow OMA member in my area, so I can honestly say that I owe my career in obesity medicine to OMA!

  • Amy Ingersoll, PA-C
    Phoenix
    When I was first starting to look into learning more about obesity medicine, it took me months to find a credible conference to attend where I could learn not only the science and evidence-based medicine behind obesity management, but also the business aspect of obesity medicine, and where I could network and make connections with other providers who had been practicing. I attended my first obesity conference in 2012, and attend annually since then.