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story.lead_photo.caption Jasper Fultz, the trauma coordinator for Unity Health in Searcy, is the newest member of the Arkansas State Nursing Board, having been appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Fultz was in Little Rock last week for training and meetings for the board. - Photo by Mark Buffalo

Jasper Fultz said that when he decided to become a nurse while serving in the Army, he wanted to help people. After more than 35 years, Fultz will help mold policies for nursing in Arkansas.

Fultz, 60, of Augusta was recently named to the Arkansas State Board of Nursing by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Fultz’s term expires Oct. 1, 2023, and he is replacing Haley Strunk.

“I think this is a wonderful opportunity,” Fultz said. “I’m not 100 percent sure what I’m in for, but I’m really looking forward to getting in there and doing my best.”

Fultz said he applied for the position.

“I made out an application and went through the process,” he said. “I’m 60 now. I wanted to try to be doing all I can for nurses and nursing in general for the state of Arkansas. I thought, ‘What better place to do it than there, serving on the state board?’”

Last week, Fultz went through an orientation and meetings with the nursing board in Little Rock.

“Yesterday (Tuesday), I did the training, and today (Wednesday), we were looking at various cases in a meeting,” he said. “This is part of both training and duties. They always pair you up with a mentor and somebody who explains the process and what is going on. It helps you get a feel for it.

“I’ve learned a lot, just basically how everything operates, what the board is tasked with, what the mission is for the board and some of the decisions that they make. I’m just glad to be a part of it.”

The mission, according to the board’s website,

www.arsbn.org, “is to protect the public and act as their advocate by effectively regulating the practice of nursing.”

The website also states that the board “achieves its mission by developing standards for safe nursing care, approval of nursing schools and regulating licenses to practice nursing. The [board] is also responsible for enforcing these laws and rules pertaining to the regulation of nurses, nursing education and nursing practice.”

Fultz, a licensed practical nurse, is currently the Unity Health trauma coordinator in Searcy. He has worked at Unity Health, previously White County Medical Center, for more than 35 years after leaving the Army.

Steve Bonds, emergency-room director for Unity Health and Fultz’s supervisor, said Fultz is a great person.

“I’ve known Jasper for three years this coming July,” Bonds said. “I met him when I did my interview here. I’ve come to rely on his council a lot here in the ER. He’s been here for over 30 years.

“He’s extremely intelligent. I respect his opinion on most things. He’s got a great deal of knowledge about this place and the local community.”

Fultz’s appointment to the state nursing board looks good for Unity Health as well, Bonds said.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Bonds said. “It’s all something we’re really proud of. To be selected by the governor to be on a state board is very impressive.”

Fultz grew up in Patterson, a small community in Woodruff County. He graduated from McCrory High School in 1977. After high school, he joined the Army as a way to get an education and get paid at the same time.

“It was one of those things where my mom had six of us,” he said. “She put four through college. I wanted to get an education and not put the burden on her of sending me through college, so I wanted to get an education and get paid at the same time. Uncle Sam wants you.”

Fultz enlisted and went to basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. After completing that, Fultz said, he attended nursing training at the U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School, Health Readiness Center of Excellence at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

“The nursing training took about a year overall,” Fultz said. “That is what I kind of wanted to do, become a nurse. … Nursing is one of those areas where you can help people and make a difference in their lives.

“They teach you how to care for soldiers in case they get hurt or something like that.”

Fultz was a member of the Army for six years, three on active duty and three in the Reserve. When he left active duty, he returned to Arkansas and started working at White County Hospital as an orderly.

“I started working as an orderly, then passed the state board and became an LPN,” Fultz said. “Right now, I’m the stroke coordinator and the trauma coordinator, as well as the trauma registrar. I’ve worked in the ER pretty much the majority of my term here.

“But if they get real busy, I’ll go out on the floor and help, too. I do enjoy it, taking care of people. You can’t beat it.”

Fultz has been an LPN his entire career. He did consider becoming a registered nurse at one time.

“I did want to at one point back in the day,” Fultz said. “By the time you get to work on [the day shift], you don’t want to lose your spot, so I just never went back [to school to become an RN]. I made myself satisfied with the station I was at.”

Fultz said he has no regrets about staying at Unity Health for his entire career.

“It’s really a nice place to work,” he said. “You’ve got great people in the whole area here in White and Woodruff counties. These people need help. I wanted to kind of help the area I came from. I’m paying it back.”

When Fultz started at Unity Health in 1981, it was called White County Hospital.

“When I came here, it had an annex in the back,” he said. “Now, they are a big conglomerate.”

White County Medical Center became Unity Health in early 2015.

Fultz has also seen changes in the way nursing and medicine have progressed.

“One of the big things is telemedicine,” he said. “It is growing. It is where you have televideo, and the person can see you, and you can see the person. The physician would be talking to a nurse and diagnosing or treating a patient. The nurse is there to examine the patient without the doctor being physically present.

“It’s nice to be able to have access to specialists via telemedicine.”

Another thing that Fultz has seen is the use of a clot buster for something other than the heart.

“It started out with treating heart attacks with a clot buster, and now they are using a clot buster to break up clots in the brain,” he said. “It’s a pretty awesome transition.”

Fultz is the fifth of six children in his family. He said the reason he wanted to help people is based upon the way he was raised.

“Faith … you believe that you are supposed to try to do unto others as you would have them do to you,” he said. “You take on that and live that out in your everyday life.”

Faith and his belief in God and Jesus are important, he said.

“You either believe it or you don’t,” he said. “If you believe it, you live it out. That is how I was raised.”

Fultz doesn’t see himself stopping nursing anytime soon.

“I’ll do it until I can’t do it anymore,” he said. “I have a passion for seeing people get better and feel better.”

He also said he didn’t think when he started out in nursing that he’d still be doing this at age 60.

“But you make friends, and you find out the grass isn’t always greener on the other side,” he said. “It still has to be mowed.”

Staff writer Mark Buffalo can be reached at (501) 399-3676 or mbuffalo@arkansasonline.com.

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