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Carole Cottet Retires, Leaving Legacy as Longest Employed Nurse Practitioner in Oregon

Mar 20, 2013

Carole E. Cottet, WHCNP - Portland, OregonBeloved Nurse Practitioner Carole E. Cottet, WHCNP has her last clinic day on March 28, 2013 after 36 years of caring for women in Portland. Carole was one of the very first nurse practitioners in the state of Oregon and remains the longest practicing.

“Women’s health has always been my passion,” says Carole. “I initially became interested in this work in the 1970s when volunteering at the Outside In clinic in northwest Portland, which works mostly with low income and homeless people.”

Carole realized during this interaction with young women--many of them only teenagers--that her calling was to help women be more informed about the choices related to their own fertility and healthcare. At that time she was a registered nurse, which she says, “was a new role in the health system and there were only a few of us back then. But I knew after my time volunteering that I could make a difference in women’s health, and my path became clear.”

A graduate of Emanuel Hospital’s School of Nursing program in 1969, Carole earned a certificate as a women’s health nurse practitioner in 1974. She returned to school in 1987 for her bachelor's in nursing from Linfield College. In 1997, she graduated summa cum laude from OHSU's Master of Nursing program as a family nurse practitioner.

Carole was at the forefront of the lobbying effort at the Oregon Legislature to allow nurse practitioners to prescribe medications for their patients, an ability once only reserved for physicians. In 1997, she was honored with a Meritorious Service Award from the Oregon Nurses Association. 

Unlike a lot of private medical practices around the country, many of the nurse practitioners and nurse midwives who work within Women’s Healthcare Associates are partners in the practice. This status as a partner and colleague with the physicians sets the group apart compared to other medical groups where these providers are typically employees of the doctors. In the rapidly changing healthcare field, having these different perspectives involved in decision making means more innovation in improving the quality, affordability and experience of health care in the United States.

“I’ve been fortunate to work in this system. It’s been a long, wonderful journey and a rewarding career.”

Carole will officially retire as of March 31, 2013 from Northwest Gynecology Center, part of the Women’s Healthcare Associates group of clinics, which consists of more than 90 clinicians providing health care services to thousands of women throughout the Portland metro area.