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2017 Alumni Service Award: Dr. Patrick Hawkins, MSN '04

Patrick began his nursing career in military service at the U.S Army Health Science Center at Fitzsimons Medical Center in Denver, Co.  This was closely followed by stints as a staff nurse at the 130th Station Hospital in Heidelberg, Germany; coursework at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC; and a staff nurse position at the Medigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, WA. 

Since then, Dr. Hawkins earned an Associates of Science in Nursing and a BS from State University of New York, Albany; an MSN in the Adult Nurse Practitioner Program at the MSU College of Nursing; and his DNP in Nursing Practice from St. Louis University in St. Louis, MO. 

And Patrick continues to give back through community service. Tonight, we honor Dr. Hawkins for his more recent activities and, especially, his service work with the people of Flint, MI, and their ongoing water crisis. An article in the Winter 2017 MSU Alumni Magazine provides details on Dr. Hawkins’ work in Flint: 

After providing healthcare to the people of Flint for more than 20 years, Dr. Hawkins was well positioned to see the effects of the city’s lead-tainted water crisis up close—and in places others hadn’t looked. A giant of a man with a heart to match, his faith and professional training compelled him to take action. Hawkins, an advanced nurse practitioner and an instructor in the College of Nursing, now volunteers with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, helping organize free community health fairs to bring lead screenings, nutrition support, educational materials and other services to hard-to-reach populations in Flint. 

“Water is the one thing that can build or destroy you. Everything revolves around it,” Hawkins said. 

He lives by the motto “everyone is someone’s someone” and strives to treat every patient like family. He had already been doing outreach work through his practice at Kidney and Hypertension Consultants, organizing free health fairs offering everything from children’s vision screening and vaccinations to blood pressure tests and health insurance information.  

Hawkins brought a deep sense of cultural sensitivity to the water situation. “After they found out about the contamination, some people were reluctant to trust those sent to help,” he said. “They’d say, ‘They already didn’t protect us.’ So, we would go through organizations where trust existed, like religious and community groups. At the same time, there are clients who might be afraid because they are undocumented, or not able to get to a screening due to lack of transportation, so we’d bring services to them.” 

During a health fair at a church this past winter, Hawkins, clad in a white coat and brown fedora, functioned as a traffic controller of sorts, calling out over the crowd to direct patients to booths offering a range of services, and to organize the array of student volunteers from MSU and other nearby colleges and universities, all while managing vendors and supplies such as lead-fighting fresh foods and water filters. 

“We educate about how and why they need to filter their water,” said Hawkins, who was named Caregiver of the Year by the American Kidney Fund in 2015. “We try to give hope; I don’t want an entire generation of young people thinking because they were exposed, they are powerless, or that they won’t mature. As an advanced healthcare advocate for patients, that speaks to your core.”