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Nurse practitioners ... the good news.

Meeting Kahlil Demonbreun, an African American man with a laugh larger than life, and wrapping your brain around his philosophy of nursing is like taking a sojourn through the political, social history of our country and winding up in the not so unlikely location of Orangeburg, South Carolina. Let's start with the name. His first Demonbreun ancestor was a French Canadian man who settled Nashville, Tennessee. As Kahih explains, "the gene pool mixed and, eventually for my father, jobs became scarce, " so his father migrated north to Detroit in the late 50's for work in the automotive industry. This is where Kahlil was born.


In 1967 when he was 7, race riots broke out in Detroit igniting the city. As National Guard tanks rode down the street in front of his urban home, Kahlil knew something was seriously wrong with this world. At this young age, his social consciousness was born and he knew he wanted to be involved with making the world right. His parents struggled to explain the issues related to race, which plagued our country. He could not understand why people would shoot at each other and fight against each other over this issue. This was his introduction to the lessons of disparity to which he still devotes his life.

Did I mention that he is a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner as well as an Adult Nurse Practitioner? Kahlil explains that even at age 15, he knew that gender as well as race, was a minority issue and he wanted to take care of women as a nurse using an holistic paradigm to understand their needs. He explains that "seeing the inequities of being human, cultural oppression and its effects," helped him to focus in on women as a disparate group. Ironically, the social upheaval of the 60's drove him into nursing school and his future wife into medical school.

He was told, "be a nurse? You can't do that. You are an African American man. They won't let you in." Challenging that perceived barrier, he entered Henry Ford Hospital diploma program graduating in 1988. Upon graduation his career began as a staff nurse on a medical/surgical gynecology unit and quickly transitioned to an antepartum/ postpartum/newborn nursery unit. It was only after practicing as a labor & delivery staff nurse for several years, obtaining obstetrical nurse certification and completing his BSN studies, that the barriers did rear their head.

Applying for a position as in-service nurse educator at an acute care center in the south, he was told they didn't hire men to work in women's health. Somehow the predominance of men in the medical field of OB-GYN had evaded the hospital policy, and he was not to be considered for that position because of his gender. He found himself advocating for his rights as a man to be able to work as a nurse in women's health. Following this experience, the position statement he wrote on gender qualifications was adopted by the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nursing in 1995. The barrier has disappeared, and the policy remains part of the organization's history.

As Kahlil, now a DNP student, reflects over his professional history he says, "I have always found the right person at the right time, to point me in the right direction." He credits his mentors with the success of his career. He received his BSN from USC and praises his faculty from his BSN and masters programs with the encouragement he needed to face the challenges of his career. He recognizes, working in rural health, the challenges that face the women he serves. The prevalence of poverty, the lack of resources and opportunities, and the struggle to maintain health and dignity in those circumstances are the daily issues he helps his patients to overcome.

He works in a traditional primary care outpatient setting. Currently he sees low risk, obstetrical prenatal patients up to 36 weeks gestation and provides basic gynecological care, and contraceptive management. As an adult nurse practitioner, he manages primary care health problems and is a hypertension specialist. He has been at this practice site 4 years working closely with the nurse midwife there. He explains that this clinic in Orangeburg provides referral access to MUSC and Richland Memorial in Columbia. He thinks this linkage to specialty care is critical for his patients.

As a child of the 60s when asked about full scope of practice for APRNs he says, "I find it troublesome that we have to ask permission to practice nursing to the fullest extent of our education. I think this is tied to gender with nursing being a predominately women's profession. Maybe because I am a man, I can see it from that perspective."

When asked what is the accomplishment of which he is most proud, he says "without a doubt, my most profound moment comes when a colleague asks me to be their labor and delivery nurse when they give birth. That they, with their husband, choose me to share that experience, is an honor beyond anything else that I can imagine. That is what makes me the most proud."

Kahlil Demonbreun, RNC-OB, MSN, WHNP-BC, ANP-BC works at the Family Health Center, Inc. in Orangeburg, SC, as a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner and is enrolled in the MUSC, Doctorate of Nursing Practice Program.

Carole Frances Bennett, PhD, APRN-BC, PMHCNS
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Title Annotation:What Nurses Do; Kahlil Demonbreun
Author:Bennett, Carole Frances
Publication:South Carolina Nurse
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1U5SC
Date:Jan 1, 2012
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