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Nurse Practitioner Gives Her Whole Heart to Caring for Patients

Nurse Practitioner Gives Her Whole Heart to Caring for Patients

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When it comes to career choices, it is often said that many are called, but few are chosen.

Tara Woodall believes she is among the chosen few who are called to work in healthcare.

During her college orientation at Auburn University-Montgomery, Woodall said she had no idea where to go when directed to go to her chosen field of study. She settled on the School of Nursing, and the rest, as it is said, was history.

“I always felt like God chose me for that because I had no earthly idea,” says Woodall, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner for Community Health Northwest Florida in Milton. “And once I began my nursing career, I began to love it, and I never have a day where I don’t want to come to work.”

With a focus on women’s health, Woodall understands the importance of recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. She encourages women of all ages to get regular exams and keep breast cancer in the top of mind, not just during one month, but year-round.

“I do think this month is very important to bring out awareness,” Woodall says. “But we need to do breast cancer awareness every day.”

Woodall knows a lot of women are apprehensive of mammograms and getting breast exams. But Community Health’s new $331,000 state-of-the-art mammography machine (funded by Santa Rosa County) makes the exams easier on the patients, emits less radiation and provides better images for screening.

“I’ve been doing mammograms for 40 years, and we couldn’t have bought a finer machine,” says Merlene Bailey, CHNWF mammography technologist. “It is user-friendly tech-wise and gives a better reading with so many images.”

As a WHNP, Woodall is a highly trained nurse with expertise in, not only women’s health, but also general practice.  A nurse practitioner provides the same quality of care as a general physician. In their capacity, nurse practitioners prescribe medications, order diagnostic tests and perform procedures needed to effectively treat patients. 

A native of Tallahassee, Woodall grew up in Montgomery, Ala., graduating from Auburn University-Montgomery. With her nursing degree, Woodall worked as a registered nurse at Augusta University Medical Center (formerly known as the Medical College of Georgia Hospital).

While working as a registered nurse, she obtained a post-masters from the University of South Alabama.

In 2019, she began her career at Medical Associates Plus, a Federally Qualified Health Center in Augusta. Woodall joined Community Health in January 2022.

Woodall says she gravitated towards FQHCs because she had a desire to work with the underserved, the underinsured and the uninsured patients.

“I want to take care of patients that need me, and sometimes FQHCs are the only option for patients,” she says. “I give them the care that I would like for my mom to receive.”

Woodall’s care goes beyond a patient’s health needs. She is sometimes a counselor, a mentor and a coach, with an abiding heart to help women navigate their health, wellness and life.

When the new clinic opens at Pine Forest High School, Woodall will be there once a week, working with students.

“I love caring for women, but I also love caring for teenagers,” she says. “Teenagers, adolescents, they are my heart, because they are the population that is often forgotten, they are the future. We need to invest in them at all costs.”

She talks to them not only about healthcare needs, but also about their future: plans after high school, where they plan to attend college, their passions and how she can assist them in reaching their goals.

“I like being in this place where I have the time to do that,” she says. “I couldn’t do that when I worked in the hospital.

Woodall is enjoying her work in Milton and says her long-term healthcare goal is to run a team clinic.

“Hopefully in the next five years Community Health will be on board with an adolescent gynecology clinic,” she says. “I would love to be in charge of that because adolescents are my heart, my whole heart.”

We’re working to make high quality women’s care accessible for all women within the community.  Learn more or request an appointment.