The nurse practitioner will see you now: COPH grad opens her own medical practice

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USF College of Public Health (COPH) alum Dr. Stasha-Gae Roberts was commissioned as an Army nurse for four years after earning her bachelor of science in nursing. She was stationed in Augusta, Ga., taking care of active duty personnel, their families, veterans and visiting dignitaries.

The Jamaica native, who found her way to Miami via New York, is the daughter of a nurse, and received her bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Florida.

But a few years into her nursing career, she started to become disillusioned. 

Stasha-Gae Roberts, MPH, ARPN, DNP (Photo courtesy of Roberts)

“It just seemed that [as medical professionals], we were working backward,” Roberts said. “We’d do a great job of fixing people up, but not a great job of teaching them how to manage their chronic conditions and take better care of themselves.”

With disease prevention in mind, Roberts enrolled at the COPH while continuing to work as a nurse. She earned her MPH in 2007, concentrating in public health education

“There are a lot of things one can do to live a healthier life,” she said. “Health promotion and disease prevention are the parts of public health that really interested me.”

Roberts says that early on in her MPH pursuit, she “got the bug” to open up her own medical practice. Through the next several years, she worked to achieve that dream. 

She received a master of science in nursing from the University of Tampa and became an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner. A few years later, she earned a doctor of nursing practice, the highest practice degree any nurse can achieve, from USF. 

In late 2019, Roberts applied for and received all her necessary credentialing and paperwork to open her business.

Today, Roberts owns and operates Compassion Primary Care in Tampa. It’s a primary care, membership-based health care practice for people 18 and over. Compassion Primary Care patients have 24/7 access to Roberts, are able to get same-day appointments, have extended visits and receive discounts on labs and medications. She also offers what she calls nonmember “convenience care,” for ailments such as the common cold, urinary tract infections, rashes, etc.

Dr. Roberts at the grand opening of Compassion Primary Care. (Photo courtesy of Roberts)

As an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, Roberts noticed that many people first started regularly accessing health care when they got Medicare coverage.

“They’re done working, raising families, and they finally have time to focus on themselves,” Roberts said. “But diseases don’t start when you’re 65. They can start in your 50s, 40s and sometimes in your 30s and 20s. My goal has been to provide a service where people can get high quality care now, so that when they do turn 65, they have a good quality of life. It’s kind of like your car,” she added. “Periodically you change the oil and rotate the tires and get new brakes. You don’t wait until you need four new tires and an engine overhaul before you take care of things.”

With her public health education training always in the foreground, Roberts’ main goal is to help people lead healthier lives.

“At the end of the day, how people choose to live their lives is up to them,” Roberts said. “But as health care providers, we can be advocates and coaches. And when patients see you as someone who truly cares about them, they will listen.”

Alumni Fast Five

What did you dream of becoming when you were young?

An astronaut or police officer

Where can we find you on the weekends?

Reading, spending time with my husband and doing church activities

What was the last book you read?

I am currently reading “Another Gospel,” by Alisa Childers and “How God Saved Civilization,” by James Garlow.

What superpower would you like to have?

Mind reading

What’s your all-time favorite movie?

I have a few—the first “Wonder Woman,” “Steel Magnolias” and “The Breakfast Club.”

Story by Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health