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"I love caring for my patients, providing education and clarity to a situation," said Marie Austin, a nurse practitioner who works in the Internal Medicine Clinic at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC).

Cited for her genuine, heartfelt and creative attitude toward her patients, Austin is The Journal's "Spotlight on the Faces of Bethesda" profile this week.

Austin was born in Washington, D.C., but has lived most of her life in Bethesda, Md. She graduated from Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, and earned her bachelor's degree in nursing from the University of California, where she also earned a master's degree in public administration. She also earned a Master of Science and her certification as a nurse practitioner from the University of Maryland.

Austin gained her interest in working for the military because her father was a Marine. She worked for 12 years at the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC), and came to work at the former National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) a year ago, before the two hospitals integrated in September 2011 to form WRNMMC.

Austin explained she believes each patient and family member is unique, as they challenge her to be the best she can be.

"I love spending time with my patients, answering their questions, and setting up a mutually agreeable plan of care," Austin said. "They deserve respect, dignity, communication and up-to-date information and education. I hope when I'm seeing my patients that I am giving my best.

"As a nurse practitioner, I feel medicine is an art form," she continued. "I can compare each patient and their families to a new painting. The colors are vivid and intertwine to form a solid, holistic impression that makes you smile and feel alive."

Austin said she enjoys her job and could not do it without the resources provided by the military in the Medical Home Concept as well as support from her co-workers. "I could not do my job if they were not there to support me."

Likewise, Austin has gained the respect of her patients and colleagues, who praise her work ethic.

"Marie is an extremely dedicated provider who cares deeply for her patients," said Dr. Laura Sessum, chief of Internal Medicine and Austin's supervisor. "She regularly works extra hours, often long after the clinic has closed, to attend to her patients' needs."

Dr. Donna Rinis, a staff physician in Internal Medicine, agreed with Sessum.

"[She] exemplifies the time-honored saying: 'The secret of care of patients is in caring for the patient,'" said Rinis, quoting Boston physician Dr. Francis Peabody in a lecture he gave to Harvard students in 1925.