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Meet James Simmons of Ask The NP in Greater LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to James Simmons.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Too scared to ask your MD, ask the NP! That’s the motto at the foundation of why I do what I do. Health impacts everyone and too often people are scared to talk to their providers about what’s really going on, so they search for answers online and on social media. And they get bad information. I think we can change that.

I grew up in the Midwest which is where I also went to college and started my broadcasting career. Stay with me, this won’t be boring I promise!

However, right after college I realized as a queer fat black kid that small city midwest wasn’t going to work for me. So I packed up and took off for Chicago where I could find my community.

In Chicago, I developed a career as a PR/communications professional across the dot com, non-profit, and corporate sectors before going back to school to become a Nurse Practitioner.

Abrupt change, right?

I’d always had this thought in the back of my head that I wanted to be a nurse, but that’s not something little boys from Nebraska are taught to grow up to be so I ignored it. But that voice got too strong and I decided to finally listen to it.

So at this point, I’m a Nurse Practitioner and loving what I do. But that love of broadcasting and media never left either. So I decided to combine my loves of media and health in the social media space and create Ask The NP. Everybody regardless of gender-identity, sexual orientation, race, class, politics – whoever you are – deserves to get the real, reliable, relatable health information in a way they can digest.

I’m a proud member of the most trusted profession in America 18 years running and I’m scheduled to complete my Doctorate of Nursing Practice at UCLA in June 2020. After this, I’m done with school!

But combining that Doctorate with a Bachelor’s of Science in Broadcast Journalism, extensive multi-media expertise, and ten years of hospital-based critical care experience I’ve been able to grow this little social media experiment into being a trusted source of health information for larger audiences on radio, TV, podcasts, and yes, still even all over social media!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The road has been interesting to say the least. At first, everyone thought my little hobby of talking about crazy medical stuff online was just that, a hobby. But I soon realized I had some real passion around this, even though I was HORRIBLE at it in the beginning. But people really seemed to appreciate hearing about medical and health issues on social media so I kept going. Because I really do want to help people understand this weird, confusing, sometimes frustrating world we call health. From herpes to heart disease, seizures to syphilis, green poop to gangrene, I’m willing to talk about it when I think some other heath professionals will shy away from it. I used to be embarrassed of my YouTube videos talking about touchy subjects, but now I’m really proud of those because I hear first hand how they’ve really helped people.

Please tell us about Ask The NP.
Brains of a doctor, heart of a nurse!

I think being a nurse really differentiates me from other medical professionals who are in the media. We related to people in a really unique way. But for a myriad of reasons you don’t really see a lot of nurses in major roles in the media, which I think is crazy because we are the most trusted profession in America 18 years running. However, things are starting to change and TV, radio, and social media influencers are really starting to understand that their audiences want the perspective of nurses!

There is a reason people trust nurses so much. We treat the whole person and their family, not just the disease. But don’t get it twisted, we can handle treating the disease just fine. But the way nurses and nurse practitioners are educated, we are trained to keep the person at the center of everything we do. And I think that translates directly to what I do in the media. With so much practice, I’ve gotten very good at clear, concise, compassionate communication about what are sometimes very complex questions. So you know when you see me on your screen or hear me on your radio that I’m thinking about every way your health issues might be impacting you and your family.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Believed in myself more from the beginning!!

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