Anna Murphy is a Nurse Practitioner who has been practicing in Chicago for over 23 years. She has devoted her career to caring for the underserved and most vulnerable in the city of Chicago and in neighboring countries.

Among her work, Anna provides care for the developmentally disabled at a Chicago residential institution, those in desperate need of healthcare in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the homeless at the Pilsen Homeless Clinic, recovering addicts at the Salvation Army Freedom Center, and for the homeless and uninsured at the Chicago City Church.

Nurse Practitioner Anna Murphy (2nd from left), NWGI Nurse Honoree 2018
Nurse Practitioner Anna Murphy (2nd from left), NWGI Nurse Honoree 2018

She not only provides care to those who would not receive it otherwise, she also teaches students how to embody humanism and embrace interprofessionalism in healthcare.

Serving these communities is who she was meant to be, she says, and she couldn’t imagine a life without service.

Anna has had a remarkable journey taking care of people from diverse backgrounds. She grew up in Columbia where her parents were stationed as missionaries.

During a gap year in college she worked at a refugee camp in Honduras where she met her husband. When she returned from Honduras she completed her nursing degree from Northwestern in 1986. Anna is passionate in her connection and devotion to the communities she serves.

When she chooses a community she wishes to work for, she sticks by them. Since she started working in Pilsen in 1995, Anna has been giving her time to caring for the Spanish-speaking homeless at the Pilsen Homeless Clinic as well as serving food at a Pilsen soup kitchen. She spends afternoons at the healthcare clinic providing the primary care that these patients would most likely not receive elsewhere.

Since 1995 Anna has also been providing care to residents at the Salvation Army Freedom Center. The Salvation Army provides individuals committed to quitting drugs and alcohol a platform to reclaim their lives. These individuals have an incredibly difficult journey towards sobriety, and Anna provides them the support and medical care they need to reach their goal.

Additionally, Anna trains a group of interprofessional healthcare students in putting together a makeshift clinic for residents of the Southside of Chicago. Many of the people seen are homeless, and most are uninsured. By circumstance, Anna and her students are their primary care providers.

Being treated with empathy and respect is essential to building the foundations for a beneficial and trusting provider-patient relationship. The connection Anna develops with the people she serves is so evident.

For example, one day at a clinic, a man came in complaining of severe chest pain that had previously had a Myocardial Infarction. The man resisted calling an ambulance and would not immediately go the hospital. Where so many providers would become frustrated with the man’s refusal of care and dismiss him, Anna sought to understand his motivations for not seeking care.

She asked him if he wanted to die.

When he said no, she asked him why he did not want to go to the hospital. The man’s response was that all he had in the world was his bicycle and bag of stuff, and they were with him at church. He was afraid that if he went to the hospital, all of his earthly possessions would be lost or stolen. There would be nothing to come back to.

Anna worked out an arrangement with the pastor to lock up his bike and bag, and the man went to the hospital. He is probably out riding his bicycle right now, and that is because of Anna’s respect for her patient’s autonomy and seeking to understand his point of view.

She seeks to bring care to people who need it most, both home and abroad. This sense of purpose is why she instantly decided to go to Haiti in 2011, and again in 2012, after their massive earthquake.

In Haiti she provided weeklong primary care to people in Jerusalem, a tent city constructed following the earthquake that is now the permanent home for over 100,000 people. The people there go without food, infrastructure, clean water, and sufficient healthcare. For both her trips to Haiti and the Dominican Republic Anna has volunteered with Rush University Medical Center teams.

From 2012 onwards she has taken yearly trips to the Dominican Republic to work with surgical and primary care teams for the people of Peralta, a village about 6,000 people that has verylimited access to healthcare. Just like in the Pilsen neighborhood in Chicago, Anna utilizes her Spanish fluency to reach and treat patients who may not speak English as a primary language.

Anna decided that she needed to spend her vacation time volunteering to provide care to people in dire need abroad, because she believes in the importance of doing good wherever she can. In Haiti and the Dominican Republic Anna works on teams with healthcare providers of various training and specialties, just as she does in her daily healthcare work around Chicago.

She also leads sessions with students on the value and importance of interprofessionalism and has spoken at international and national conference on this topic. More than anything, Anna is an incredible role-model and teacher. She exudes passion and fulfillment in her devotion to healing the underserved, and it is truly infectious.

Wherever she is working, she has a big smile on her face as she jokes with patients she knows on a first name basis and has meaningful conversations on addressing patient’s health concerns that are only possible because of the trust she has built.

Anna walks students through teaching opportunities so that each student leaves the clinic better prepared to one day be healthcare providers themselves. Anna is a leader and an inspiration to the new crop of young healthcare students, highlighting the opportunity as medical providers to treat those in the most need, as she has done her entire career.

What an example of passion for service, compassion for people, of positive energy, of empathy and professionalism –and a lifelong commitment to bringing comfort and care to the lonely and suffering. Nurses With Global Impact has been graced with Anna as one of our honorees this year, and being recognized on May 11, 2018 at our International Nurses Day event at the United Nations.

– Deb