Tracy Hicks, FNP, BC, HCS-D
Special Health Resources
Tracy Hicks recently completed her Nursing schooling at the University of Texas at Arlington and has been in practice for nearly two years now at Special Health Resources, where she works with clients with HIV and HIV/HCV co-infection. In these beginning stages of her career in HIV care, Hicks’ work setting has been a primary care community clinic setting. Says Hicks, “I currently work in a behavioral health unit treating dual diagnosis, mental illness, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and psychosis. We are staffed with five psychiatrists and three nurse practitioners. We partner with an FQHC (Federally Qualified Health Center) to provide HIV testing and education to those infected with HIV.” On a typical day at her practice, Hicks sees a range of 18 to 20 clients, not all of whom are infected with HIV. She serves a diverse population as her clients comes from all over the country. Says Hicks, “I am seeing an increased number of clients over the age of 50. I would say approximately five percent.” Working at the cross-section of HIV and mental health has become an area of particular focus for Hicks.
At each patient visit, Hicks describes, “I sit down with my clients and explain in-depth what their labs indicate; open the floor for discussion; gauge their knowledge. Each visit I ask about something life-changing to tell me about. They seem to look forward to the visit and are motivated to learn more about their disease process.” Hicks finds it most rewarding when a client sees the benefit of compliance with their treatment regimens; and finds the adverse effects of noncompliance to be difficult. “I ensure a therapeutic relationship with my clients,” says Hicks, “I treat our relationship as a partnership. They understand their accountability. Providing education in a nonjudgmental fashion, letting them know this is not an isolating disease, seems to be very successful.”
In practice in Texas, where sex education funding was recently cut and redistributed to “abstinence only” education, Hicks’ hope for the future is, “that HIV will be viewed just as any other chronic disease and become well studied in school curriculums.” Hicks hopes to continue to improve outcomes in mental health and primary care for those living with HIV as well as effectively bridging the gap between the two. In her free time, Hicks loves to travel, dance, decorate; and enjoys architecture.
When asked why she is an AAHIVM Member, Hicks says, “to network with colleagues, learn more about HIV, and work with others in the evolution of HIV care.”