Employee Spotlight: Alyssa Long, DNP, CRNP
The UCA Women’s Center is recognized for taking a unique urological approach to female health. We sat down with Alyssa Long, UCA Women’s Center’s Nurse Practitioner, to discuss the possible causes for incontinence, treatment options, and her passion for being an advocate for her patients.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am originally from Ft. Payne, Alabama, and I graduated from the University of Alabama- Birmingham with a Bachelor of Science. I did all my medical and nursing training and received my master’s and doctoral degrees from there. My first registered nursing job was at the University of Alabama Birmingham at the Women and Infants Center. I worked on a floor called Gynecology Oncology for a couple of years while I studied for my master’s degree and then transitioned into a nurse practitioner role. I then worked at the Kirklin Clinic in Urogynecology before arriving at UCA as a nurse practitioner two years ago.
Q: How did you get interested in women’s healthcare?
I think that derived from when I was growing up and I had a nurse practitioner take care of me. Anatomy and science have always intrigued me, and I felt really passionate about women’s healthcare and seeing my nurse practitioner in that role. It inspired me, and while I was in high school, it led me down a path to volunteer for the Red Cross as well as volunteer on the labor and delivery unit at my local hospital.
Q: What is a Urodynamics?
Urodynamics is a series of tests that evaluate how well the bladder and muscles work. It helps us to identify and diagnose a variety of ailments, such as incontinence and helps guide the physician to develop a plan of care for the patient – whether it be medication, surgery, or other treatments.
Q: What causes incontinence?
Incontinence is urinary leakage due to the weakness of the pelvic floor. It can affect women across the board, but typically affects a larger percentage of women in their menopausal years.
Q: What is the difference between stress incontinence and urge incontinence?
Stress incontinence is generally leakage associated with coughing, sneezing, laughing or strenuous activity like exercising. Urge incontinence occurs when a patient has trouble holding onto their urine, and sometimes can’t make it to the bathroom.
Q: What are some of the treatments for women experiencing incontinence?
Generally, we like to start out with behavioral modifications such as diet changes like avoiding coffees, sodas, juices, etc. Physical therapy may be an option that helps some patients with incontinence, and of course, there are certain medications that can help treat patients. When we need to move beyond these types of treatments, we present some surgical options such as slings or Botox for our patients.
Q: Tell us about your approach to patient care.
You know, most of my patients are embarrassed and feel alone. They feel trapped in their house because they’re afraid their bladder is going to act up at the most inconvenient time. But, generally, my approach is to simply listen to them. I find that if I let them talk to me they feel better that they can share this embarrassing issue with someone they can trust. I remind them that I am here for them and that we have care plans and treatments that may bring back some hope and confidence to them. Another way I comfort them is to let them know that I’m available. I’ll remind my patients that a lot of women suffer from this and that there are so many different treatment options available to them.
Q: Describe a time when you advocated for a patient.
I think one thing that stands out to me was a lady who had a complex medical background with an extensive history of trauma and so forth. After listening and treating her, the one thing she told me was that for the first time in her life, I had validated the concerns she had. That really meant a lot to me because this was an older lady who clearly had been through a lot who would probably have seen numerous medical providers. I’m glad I was there for her.
Q: Describe the relationship between the nurse practitioner and the physician.
I see a number of patients who are experiencing urological health issues like incontinence. I work very closely with all of the physicians here in the office. They’ve always been supportive of me and if there’s ever a moment where I feel like one of my patients needs to be evaluated by one of them, I just pull the physician in or schedule an appointment to see them.
Q: How do you stay up-to-date on urological treatments
I follow the American Urogynecologic Society and read articles that they release. I also used to go to conferences before the pandemic because I find those to be really interesting. Hoping I can go back soon.
Q: When you are not at work, what do you like to do?
I’m married and have a four-year-old little boy, so family time is really important to me. My faith is also very important to me.