The feeling is mutual

(March 2019) Michele Van Vranken, MD, and Maria Ruud, DNP, APRN, WHNP, work together at the Annex Teen Clinic.

March 21, 2019
Meleah Maynard

Michele Van Vranken and Maria Ruud

Michele Van Vranken, MD, has been the medical director of the Annex Teen Clinic, which provides confidential sexual health-related education and services to young people, for nearly two decades.

She would also be the first person to tell you that she is not the leader of the Robbinsdale, Minnesota-based organization. That role, Van Vranken says, is embraced by nurses. “This is a very nurse-run clinic in my mind,” she said. “We have a whole-person model of care, and I really see that as coming from a nursing perspective. I feel very lucky to work here where it’s always a team effort.”

While treating patients holistically is often viewed as beneficial, Van Vranken believes that approach is particularly important at the Annex Teen Clinic. Youth may come in looking for birth control or an STD test but taking the time to talk with them often reveals deeper and more complex challenges. That’s where nurse practitioners like Maria Ruud, DNP, APRN, WHNP, come in.

Ruud, a clinical assistant professor with the School of Nursing, has been working two days a week at the Annex Teen Clinic for the past four years. Explaining that she’s always “been drawn to working with youth,” Ruud calls the clinic staff a dream team and says she especially enjoys Tuesdays when she, and her students, often work alongside Van Vranken.

“Dr. Michele is an amazing teacher, and she’s really good at interacting with youth,” Ruud said. “She’s calm and very supportive, and she models that for all of us. I couldn’t be luckier than to work with someone like her, and I’ve been able to teach what I’ve learned from her to my own students.”

Van Vranken sees Ruud as a “natural teacher” as well. “Maria has so much patience for spending time with kids and trying to figure out what their issues might be,” she said. “It’s hard enough for adults to put their issues into words, so it’s great that Maria, and this clinic in general, has such a strong commitment to caring for youth. And we do a good job of caring for each other too.”