Nurse Practitioner | Gallatin, Tenn.
When you’re a TVA Nurse Practitioner like Teresa Norwood, paying attention to detail and connecting the dots between your patient’s symptoms and their overall health is a part of your everyday job — and, in some cases, those details can mean the difference between life or death.
With many years of medical knowledge behind her stethoscope, Norwood is a crucial part of TVA’s Employee Health Department and has served her fellow employees — helping to keep them healthy while they serve the Valley — for the past 12 years. At the start of her TVA career, Norwood’s responsibilities only extended to TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant, but today she provides medical care and Case Management for employees at Gallatin Fossil Plant, Middle Tennessee and several business units across the Valley. Her favorite part about the job has always been the people.
“I love interacting with the employees, no matter what their position, because I like to learn about them,” Norwood said. “I love learning their personal stories and offering them care that’s tailored to them.”
TVA has fifteen medical professionals – Nurse Practitioners, Nurses and a Senior Physician – whom Norwood helps to deliver medical care and case management to all of TVA’s employees. “I feel privileged to work, and collaborate with, such a knowledgeable and dedicated team of medical professionals.”
Norwood’s love for helping others is what drives her to go the extra mile with her patients. Recently, she detected a heart defect that saved an employee’s life. The person came in requesting a blood pressure check. He then mentioned the reason for the request, he was dizzy.
“I checked his blood pressure, which was on the lower side of normal, but — because he was dizzy — I investigated further,” Norwood said. “I knew he had several serious heart issues in the past, so I checked his heart and heard the worst heart murmur I had ever heard. Even though he had seen his specialist just several days before, I immediately contacted them and insisted that they see him that day to further assess the murmur, especially since he was now experiencing dizziness.”
Less than a month later, he was having major heart surgery to repair the life-threatening issue that Norwood discovered — but she said these instances aren’t uncommon in her line of work. “My colleagues share similar stories of discovering serious health conditions with employees.”
“A question I get a lot from the public is ‘what does a power company need a Nurse Practitioner for?’” she said. “And I go back to the fact that there are actual people behind our power production, so we need to ensure they are medically fit to successfully perform the requirements of their specific job. Though we function as Primary Care providers, we’re also the middleman between our employees and their outside medical providers. We inform those providers of the physical demands and working environments employees are working in.”
Often, Norwood has to pull herself away from the plethora of medical tests and findings to face one of the challenges she admits she struggles with every day: making the words on the paper meaningful to her patients.
“Most outside the healthcare profession don’t always understand why we do what we do,” she said. “For instance, if I do bloodwork on you and I find that you have anemia, what does that mean? Why is it important to know? Why is it important to have it treated for your overall wellbeing? I love teaching and explaining these things to my patients in real-world language — because if I just give a diagnosis, and don’t make it personal, it doesn’t mean anything to them.”
According to Norwood, this challenge has become even more persistent with the presence of COVID-19.
“I’m constantly explaining to people how disease transmission works,” she said. “I’ve been teaching about mask use since the beginning, and what to do if they’re not readily available — explaining to employees that they can use their issued respirator to achieve the same respiratory protection. Whether it’s COVID or some other disease, I try to give employees the rationale of why it all works the way it works, because nothing is created the same and the details need to be understood if we want to achieve the health goals we’ve set. ”
Outside of work, Norwood enjoys the pastime of sewing, crafting, history and family — particularly time exploring her family’s genealogy.
“I love to know more about people in my family tree rather than just pictures and dates,” she said. “I want to know why they did what they did, where they came from, what shaped their personalities — you know — was it mostly genetic or was it more of their situation? As studies show, a lot of it is genetic, but I love investigating these things and getting to know my family’s story.”
Even when considering her daughters and two grandchildren, her love for genealogy shines through. Her oldest is a vocalist and creative baker while her youngest is an engineer.
“My girls are very different,” she said. “My oldest has my two wonderful grandchildren and lives six hours away with her husband who is a pastor, and my youngest and her husband have a historic home near me. I’ve helped them with research on the house because her husband has six generations of direct relatives in the area — so of course, that’s right up my alley. It’s very fulfilling to see the decisions my girls have made and what they’ve done with their talents to grow into the successful women they are now.”
Visiting her grandchildren, a newborn and two-year-old, is another special pastime for Norwood.
“My youngest often comes with me when I visit to help with the grandbabies, because it’s a challenge to keep up with them at my age,” she laughed. “My two-year-old grandson shares my active imagination, so we dream and make up stories together. He loves Batman, so my stories have Batman flying in the air and imagining where he will go. I realize how fortunate I am to have another generation of blessings.”
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