Mercy Health Love County - News

Nurse Practitioner Earns Doctorate of Nursing Practice Degree

Posted on Sunday, December 19th, 2021

Nikki Barker, DNP, APRN-CNP. The Family Nurse Practitioner in
Mercy Health/Love County Clinic has added Doctor of
Nursing Practice to her title.

Nikki Barker, a family nurse practitioner in the Mercy Health/Love County clinic, graduated Saturday, December 18, 2021, with a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) degree from Chamberlain University.

This is the highest degree in nursing, equipping recipients for research, leadership, and management. Barker is the first doctor of nursing ever to practice at Mercy Health/Love County and one of only 437 licensed DNPs in Oklahoma, according to data from the Oklahoma Board of Nursing.

She made straight A’s in her studies and was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau international honor society of nursing.  Her major research focused on early identification and treatment of depression in the rural health care setting. She said she plans to work closely with mental health resources in the area in her continuing practice in the Marietta clinic.

Dr. Barker, age 33, studied online and after work the past two years while treating patients fulltime at the clinic and part-time at Plano and Colony emergency trauma centers in Texas. The intensive work-study routine has been her life since graduating from Marietta High School in 2006.

She has helped many hundreds of patients in hospital, clinic, and emergency room settings through the years as she rose from a local ER registrar to nurse’s aide, RN (trauma nurse), FNP, and now, DNP. “I have always worked one fulltime and one part-time job,” she said. “With each step I have been gaining valuable experience and leadership and exploring how to help patients in a primary care setting or emergency room.”

Barker joined the clinic in December 2019 and has built a caseload of patients for whom she is the primary health care provider. Nurse practitioners treat patients of all ages, from infant to elderly. To make an appointment with Barker, call the clinic at (580) 276-2400.

Barker listed her parents and nurses at Mercy Health/Love County as major guides and mentors  along the way. Richard and Connie Barker were hospital administrator and clinic director, respectively, for several decades.

“Growing up and being here at work with my parents gave me a very good foundation and a true appreciation of what this work entails. They are two of the most influential and inspirational people in my life. I dedicated my doctoral dissertation to God and to them for supporting and believing in my goals,” she said.

 “Working as a CNA and an emergency room registrar let me watch Kim Collins, Kathryn Miller, Melynda Persons, Myrna Gaither, Sandra Farve, and Marie Ross, and all of these nurses supported and taught me while I was going to school. After nursing school, I watched Pat Owens having more autonomy and making even more of a difference as a nurse practitioner and that made me realize I wanted to follow in her footsteps.”

“I drove back and forth from Dallas to have Pat as my preceptor. How to read the lab and X-ray results, how to formulate a diagnosis, how to prescribe and refer – she taught me how to do all those things a primary provider does and now I am a nurse practitioner alongside her. We learn from these fantastic teachers in clinics and schools and then give back. Now it is my turn to give back, to teach and to educate for all the years of support I have had,” Barker said.

Dr. Barker earned the Master of Science in Nursing- Family Nurse Practitioner degree from Chamberlain University in 2019; Certification in Business Administration from Keller Graduate School of Management, DeVry University in 2015; Bachelor of Science in Nursing from East Central University in 2013; and Associate of Science from Murray State College in 2010.She became board-certified as a Registered Nurse (RN) in 2013 and board-certified as a Family Nurse Practitioner (APRN-CNP) in 2019. She is also a Trauma Certified RN.