Health care runs in the family

Teshome Shikesso, left, and Robel Anshebo. Marc Studer photograph

By Douglas Esser
To most people, the words “family clinic” mean a medical practice specializing in the integrated care of families. The words also have a different, more personal meaning to Teshome Shikesso. He dreams of opening a clinic that would use the health care skills of members of his own family.

“Our plan is very big,” said Shikesso, who received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from the University of Washington Bothell’s School of Nursing and Health Studies in 2014.

Now, Shikesso is in a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at the University of Washington School of Nursing in Seattle. His wife runs her own health-related business. Their oldest son is a pre-med student at UW Tacoma who plans to become a doctor. And when their son Robel Anshebo was looking for a BSN, UW Bothell was his choice. A younger son still in high school will have plenty of academic advice when he pursues a college degree.

“The UW has a very close connection to my family. My kids love to go to UW,” Shikesso said. “We are lucky.”

Out of Africa

Originally from Ethiopia, Shikesso came to Seattle to take part in UW research to develop high-yield, drought-resistant cassava, a food staple in parts of Africa. He started in the health care field as a nursing assistant and became an RN in 2012 through an associate degree at South Seattle College. On the advice of friends who graduated from UW Bothell, that was his choice for his BSN. He had a remarkable experience in the School of Nursing & Health Studies (NHS).

“I love the staff, the talent they have and also the passion, starting with the advisers,” Shikesso said, mentioning in particular Celinda Smith, NHS undergraduate adviser. “The interaction with students is awesome. I like to tell other people, even outside of my family.”

Mental health specialty

Shikesso specializes in psychiatric nursing and works at the Seattle Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Veterans deserve quality care, he said. In some of the patients he sees the faces of homelessness, PTSD, drug and alcohol addictions and other mental health issues. These are some of the toughest cases that health professionals confront. Shikesso prefers them.

“I love to work with them. I understand them. They’re human beings,” he said. “When we admit them, we talk with them: Who are they? What are their problems? We work on those complex issues.”

A DNP in psychiatry and mental health will help him move forward, he said. At the UW, he’s in one of the best DNP programs in the nation, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 Best Graduate Schools.

‘Family’ clinic

Robel Anshebo
Robel Anshebo. Marc Studer photograph

Shikesso’s very big plan for a “family clinic” includes returning to Ethiopia for parts of each year. In addition to clinical work, Shikesso would like to train others in mental health nursing. There’s only one psychiatric hospital in Ethiopia, a country of 110 million, he said.

Anshebo shares his father’s passion for nursing and was glad to follow his lead to the nursing program at UW Bothell where he’s also minoring in Global Health.

“For me, nursing and medicine also mean global aspects of health — equity and equality,” he said. “A lot of times, people suffering are minorities. I want to equalize that.”

Long-term, Anshebo also would like to become a DNP, specializing in anesthesiology and work part of the year in Ethiopia with his family.

“That’s what we plan — medical doctor, psychiatric, anesthesiology…” Shikesso said.

“I think that would be great,” Anshebo said.

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