ThedaCare nurse practitioner enjoys local colleagues, communication, climate

Zhao grew up in China

Photo Courtesy of ThedaCare Boda Zhao with his wife, Lingfei, and their black lab, Kimbo, enjoy the four seasons in Wisconsin. Boda, who holds a doctorate nurse practitioner’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, works at ThedaCare Physicians-Shawano.

Boda Zhao is a nurse practitioner at ThedaCare Physicians-Shawano who has the qualifications to be addressed as Dr. Zhao.

Although not a medical doctor, he holds a doctorate nurse practitioner’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh School of Nursing, a degree known as a DNP.

“There is a growing national movement for master’s-prepared nurse practitioners to earn their doctorates,” Zhao said. “The program gives nursing students many more hours of clinical experience and advanced training in clinical research, management and leadership. Our role as nurse practitioners in health care is changing and expanding.”

Zhao entered the doctoral program directly after undergraduate school, bypassing the master’s level training and aiming straight for the top-level degree.

After having grown up the son of a neurosurgeon in Shenzhen, a vast Chinese city just north of Hong Kong, Zhao was at a crossroads: should he apply to a Chinese university or study abroad in the United States?

“When you’re young, you’re not afraid of anything,” he laughed, so he was only 16 when he arrived at UW-Stevens Point in 2007 for his first year of college, far from everyone and everything he had ever known.

Shortly thereafter, he was fortunate to meet another Chinese student who would eventually become his wife, Lingfei.

As Zhao sought a field of study that would engage him, his physician father encouraged him to investigate health care. Fast forward 10 years and both Boda and Lingfei are fully committed Wisconsinites with DNP degrees from the UW-Oshkosh.

“I fell in love with Oshkosh and the Fox Cities,” Zhao said of his time in college and his clinical rotations at ThedaCare Physicians-Oshkosh. “Where I lived in China, it is like Florida here, more tropical and hot. We love the four seasons here, especially the snow.”

Zhao and his wife own a home in Green Bay, where Lingfei works as an urgent care nurse practitioner. Their black lab, Kimbo, joined the family a short time ago. The couple travels to China to visit family and also hosts visitors in Green Bay. Their extended family enjoys Wisconsin snow skiing, fishing and farmers markets, and has plans for a 2018 camping trip.

Zhao said he is committed to ThedaCare in Shawano because he is honored by the training and mentorship he received from ThedaCare doctors and colleagues during his entire nursing school career.

“The people of ThedaCare Physicians are my friends and mentors,” he said. “As part of ThedaCare, I know I have access to the resources, technology and specialists who will help me give the best care to my patients.”

Zhao’s doctoral research project at UW-Oshkosh was a study of the ways health care providers and their patients communicate, and whether or not patients understand the reasons behind their medical tests and eventual diagnoses.

“I make sure that my patients know why they came to an appointment, what we plan to do, and what we eventually find,” Zhao said. “Patients need to know next steps, too, like whom to see next, and how soon or how frequently. I am a provider, but my most important role is as communicator and educator.”

Zhao is accepting new patients at ThedaCare Physicians-Shawano. For information, call 715-524-2161.