November 2023: Deb Lipkin, nurse practitioner at Boston University Student Health Services and Assistant Director of Primary Care, proud mom of 2

PW Classmates: What do you do now for work? 

Deb: I’m a nurse practitioner at Boston University Student Health Services and Assistant Director of Primary Care.

PW Classmates: What has your career path been since graduating from PW?

Well, it wasn’t linear!  I went to college right after high school with NO idea what I wanted to do.  I had a good college experience, but I felt a bit lost after graduating. Inspired by one of my oldest friends, Jill Schatz (now Pinover,) who was a labor and delivery nurse, then a midwife, and because I realized I had more than a passing interest in women’s reproductive health, I went back to school, earning a second bachelor’s degree in nursing then worked in labor and delivery and postpartum.  I earned my master’s in nursing a few years later and became a Family Nurse Practitioner.

After working for a small OB/GYN practice outside of Boston, I made a pivotal change and began working at a vulvovaginal specialty practice (and believe me, everyone giggles when I say this, so feel free…) We treated patients with problems ranging in severity and diagnosis, but there was one common thread:  most of their prior providers had been dismissive of their issues or unprepared to manage them.  I loved the work.  I was in a constant state of learning.  I was mentored by internationally recognized and influential providers in the field. I built long-term relationships with my patients.  Those relationships became, I believe, the most important part of facilitating healing.  It was arduous but VERY rewarding work.

Because the work spilled into my home life every day (I used to say my kids got to know the back of my head), I knew I needed a change.  When the opportunity to work with young people at BU presented itself, I jumped.  It was daunting at first, doing primary care after spending so much of my career in a subspecialty of women’s health.  My colleagues are a brilliant group of providers who are supportive and encouraging.  I remain a dedicated vulvovaginal specialist, but I see a wide range of problems and acuity.  I manage our IUD program: both inserting them and training others.  Earlier this year, I was offered the Assistant Director position, and it felt like a good fit for me.  I love being able to see patients, and it is balanced with my organizational skills and my desire to make work-life for colleagues both fulfilling and challenging.  I put out fires, I support staff, and I see patients.

PW Classmates: Tell us about your family.  

Deb: I have two kids, a 23-year-old daughter and a 21-year-old son. My daughter graduated from college last year; my son is a senior this year.  Having kids is interesting, isn’t it?  The on and on-ness of early parenting, the (sometimes twice daily) hockey practices and weekend games, the parents’ nights at school, the runny noses, the tears, the drama, the worry… and then at some point, we get to see them figure things out for themselves.  They push us away, and then, THEN, they pull us back.  Their failures affect us deeply; their successes make us proud.

My husband and I are now separated after many years together.  We have a unique situation in which we are still sharing our home.  We’re discovering that there is no rule book, no right way to separate, and I feel so fortunate for our changed relationship… he is one of the best people I know.

PW Classmates: What did you dream of becoming when you were in high school?

Deb: HA!  See above!  I had NO IDEA!

PW Classmates: What advice would you give to your high school self?  

Deb: First, take a deep breath! Second, it doesn’t all have to happen at once. Third, the only reliable constant is that everything is changing. Fourth, take a deep breath again!!

PW Classmates: What advice do you have for others about creating your best life?

Ooh!  That’s a tough one.  I don’t feel at all qualified to give advice about this.  Here’s what I try to do:  I pay attention to my instincts. I listen to my kids.  I love a good walk in the woods.  I let the dishwasher sit unemptied if there’s something more important elsewhere.  I stay connected to the best people I know, which includes a couple of PW friends.

PW Classmates: What would you like to say to all of your classmates today? 

Deb: I hope you are all doing well, despite (or because of) the roller coaster of life.

Contact Deb: