BY PATTIE DURHAM
Many young people have trouble deciding what subject to study in school or which trade they would like to enter upon graduation from high school. Lindsey Porth Healy had no such problem, realizing what she wanted to study even before entering high school. As a person with a lot of empathy for those who are suffering, she was focused on a nursing career at a young age.
Educated in private Christian schools in St. Lucie County for the first eight years, she switched to St. Lucie West Centennial High School in the ninth grade, opting to participate in the school’s health careers academy. After graduation, she entered and completed the registered nurse program at Indian River State College, then Indian River Community College. At this point, Porth Healy thought to herself, “Why stop?”
From that beginning until she launched herself into her own rheumatology practice as a nurse practitioner using office space in Dr. Mark Pamer’s office in St. Lucie West, Porth Healy avoided the circuitous routes many college graduates take, pushing forward toward her career goal of nurse practitioner.
“I had an indication before I went to Centennial that I would study nursing,” she says. “I was always empathetic to people, and part of it is because of my mom working as a receptionist in doctors’ offices as I was growing up. I looked up to her and the knowledge she had from her work.
“I was very interested during ninth-grade biology, especially when we were studying the human body. Also, I babysat from the age of 13 for a nurse practitioner, and so I think by ninth grade, I knew I was going to be a nurse practitioner.”
There were years of schooling and a load of clinical hours in St. Lucie County’s hospitals as Porth Healy worked toward her goal. An excellent student, she always managed to get ahead of the game. She took most of the required classes, known as prereqs, for an application to the RN program at IRSC under the state’s dual enrollment program, so that after her high school graduation, she had only four classes to take at IRSC before applying to the nursing program. While completing the college’s RN program, she registered at Florida Atlantic University as a non-degree-seeking student and took one of the prereqs for the Bachelor of Science in nursing each semester she was at IRSC. She did this while completing clinical hours for her RN classes and working in the medical field.
Porth Healy went to work as an RN in the medical-surgical unit and then the intensive care unit at St. Lucie Medical Center in 2005, supporting herself as she furthered her studies at FAU. She bought her first house at 21.
“When I got to Florida Atlantic University, they had an advanced program where you could shave a year off if you knew what you wanted to do,” she says. “So in three and a half years, I earned my bachelor’s, my master’s and my nurse practitioner degrees.”
Her first job as a nurse practitioner was with Associates in Infectious Diseases in Fort Pierce, working with Dr. Moti Rampopal, treating, diagnosing and evaluating patients with infectious diseases. She did rounds at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center and St. Lucie Medical Center as well as seeing patients in the office. In 2009 she began employment at Heart and Family Health Institute under the guidance of family practice physician Dr. Ira Pearlstine. She also received an introduction to rheumatology under Dr. Mark Greenberg.
“Dr. Greenberg had to be out for medical reasons and asked me to cover his patients while he was gone,” Porth Healy says. “When he came back, he thanked me for working with his patients and noted how well I had done, considering that I didn’t have any rheumatology training. He asked me to work with him; he sort of took me under his wing.
“He was one of my greatest mentors. He taught me, well, everything I know about rheumatology. We eventually went into our own practice in the same building. When he retired from the practice and went into teaching at the University of South Carolina, we moved all of the patients to Rheumatology Associates in Stuart.”
The mother of two small children, Porth Healy later took a job closer to home, in the St. Lucie West office of Dr. Pamer. She treats patients with diseases of the joints, such as inflammatory arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and osteoarthritis, as well as patients with autoimmune illnesses, including lupus, scleroderma or Sjogren’s disease.
“I knew I wanted to do some kind of specialty,” she says. “I wanted to delve into something and get very specific knowledge. With rheumatology, you can bring back quality of life. The patients deal with a lot of pain, fatigue and an inability to take care of themselves. There is medication that can help them. So, to give them back a part of themselves that they lost makes me feel very rewarded.”
Taking a straight path toward her career goal has afforded Porth Healy the ability to work part-time and still provide for her children.
Watching her example, both of her younger sisters also studied nursing and work in different aspects of the medical field.
“To sum it up,” Porth Healy says, “I guess it is the empathy. It was so good that I stumbled across Dr. Greenburg. I think it was God’s plan for me.”
LINDSEY RACHELLE PORTH HEALY
Lives in: Fort Pierce
Occupation: Family nurse practitioner
Family: Daughter, Leila, 2; son, Leith, 1.
Education: Associate of science degree in nursing, Indian River State College, 2005; Bachelor of Science in nursing, Master of Science in nursing, family nurse practitioner degree, advanced track program at Florida Atlantic University, 2008.
Hobbies: “Spending time with my children; reading; anything to do with the ocean.”
Who or what inspires me: “God, my children and my mom.”
Something most people don’t know about me: “I was born and raised here in Port St. Lucie and Fort Pierce, and all of my family lives here on the Treasure Coast.”