Donilyn Ziebarth moves from medicine into retirement
By CHUCK CLEMENT, Staff Reporter
Donilyn Ziebarth was packing all of her personal items at the Interlakes Medical Center on Wednesday, moving out of the office at the Madison health-care clinic and into retirement.
Donilyn Ziebarth stands next to the medical credentials that were hanging on her office wall just before she took them down on Wednesday afternoon.
Ziebarth had treated patients as a physician assistant since the late 1970s. She didn't start her career in medicine as a PA. Instead, Ziebarth graduated from the nursing program at South Dakota State University in 1971 and was working as a staff nurse in Madison when she was recruited to move into a different area of medicine.
At that time, Drs. Arthur Lampert and Homer Stensrud were practicing physicians in Madison, and Lampert was knowledgeable about the expanded role that would become available to nurse practitioners. According to Ziebarth, she and Jean Thompson were asked by Lampert to return to school and earn their credentials to treat patients as nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
"I had never heard of the nurse practitioner role before (Lampert) had brought it up," Ziebarth said.
She and Thompson enrolled in a 12-month course at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks to earn their credentials as nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Ziebarth said that Lampert wanted them to have dual credentials just in case the rules for prescribing medicine changed within the two fields.
For South Dakota, PAs and nurse practitioners were something new and unfamiliar.
"Jean and I were some of the first in the state," Ziebarth said.
Ziebarth graduated from UND in 1978 and returned to Madison; Thompson eventually went on to practice medicine in Howard.
After their classes were finished, they still had to complete their clinical instruction alongside a physician. At the time, they and two other students were performing their clinical studies with Madison doctors.
Ziebarth described the Madison physicians as good teachers and the learning process as a team effort. She asked Dr. James Anderson if she could work with him, and Ziebarth believes that Anderson was associated with 80 percent of her clinic-based learning.
"I've been part of the health-care community here in Madison for a long time," Ziebarth said.
During her career, Ziebarth worked with 26 physicians, including four doctors who were based in Dell Rapids but also practiced part-time in Madison.
Her work in a new area of health care started with simpler patient issues, such as women's health and the more common illnesses, and grew during the next several decades. Ziebarth said women's health and pediatrics were two of her favorite areas of medicine, but she was also involved in areas as diverse as dermatology, psychiatry and internal medicine.
Ziebarth said surgery wasn't an interest for her, but she found that as her patients grew older, they needed more assistance in the area of internal medicine. She also needed to complete recertification every six years, and there was always more to learn.
"The body of knowledge in all areas has grown exponentially," Ziebarth said. "Think about all of the advances made in the areas of cardiology, orthopedics, obstetrics, gynecology, even geriatric medicine, because our populations are living longer."
The paperwork associated with treating patients has also increased, whether the visit is a brief one or a comprehensive examination. In addition, the term "paperwork" has become old-fashioned with the trend toward electronic patient records.
In addition, health insurance companies have moved into influencing patient treatment by requiring preauthorization for some diagnostic tests and prescriptions. The insurance companies can require the use of a particular prescription list. If health-care providers go outside the approved treatments, the patients can wind up paying more out of their own pockets.
"It's been a gradual process, but everybody's responsibilities have increased," Ziebarth said.
Moving into her retirement, Ziebarth has created a list of things to do other than practicing medicine. She has two flower gardens that she wants to spend more time tending to, and Ziebarth and her husband Denis also have plans for some projects around the house.
The Ziebarths have two adult children -- Denise who lives in Brookings, and Daniel, lead pastor at the Sturgis Wesleyan Church -- and five grandchildren. Donilyn Ziebarth said that she wants to see her grandchildren more often, especially since her first grandchild will graduate from Brookings High School in May.
She wants to learn how to play golf and perform music on the piano more often for fun. Ziebarth may also become more involved in photography.
©Madison Daily Leader 2013
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