Rachel Sakai is one of Apicha Community Health Center's newest providers and is a Doctor of Nursing Practice and Family Nurse Practitioner.
Sakai is also an HIV specialist and certified diabetes educator. She graduated at the top of her class and was awarded the Stanley S. Bergen, Jr., M.D. Medal of Excellence for achievement in clinical practice and research.
Sakai returned to New York City from California, where she was working with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation providing HIV primary care. Sakai is extremely passionate about working with the LGBTQI population, those affected by HIV, and marginalized populations. Rachel is committed to providing holistic, patient-centered care and improving community healthcare outcomes.
1. When did you first become interested in pursuing a doctoral degree in nursing?
I had been working as a home health registered nurse with HIV positive patients in the Lower East Side. I became really passionate about the work I was doing and wanted to advance in my career. I started the clinical doctorate of nursing practice at Rutgers University. I was one of the first two students to completely the HIV sub-specialty program.
2. What drew you to work with Apicha CHC?
I am very passionate about working with the LGTBQ and HIV/AIDS population. I was looking for an organization that matched my core values about health care and caring for marginalized populations. I felt Apicha CHC embodies these core values.
3. Where did your passion for these populations come from?
I obtained a job with the Visiting Nurse Services of New York and happened to be assigned to the Long-term AIDS Program. I feel it was kind of destiny for me. Growing up, two of my uncles died of AIDS in the earl 1990s, so working with HIV positive patients is very personal to me. I identify as part of the LGBTQ community. Serving my community is very important to me.
4. As a provider, what are some important aspects of care when treating a patient?
The most important thing for me when treating a patient is to meet them where they are: find out what is important to them and what their health goals are. Providing patient-centered care is probably my central goal as a provider. It is very important to me to stay on top of the latest research and clinical guidelines so I can provide evidenced based care.
I am very passionate about patient education and love teaching and explaining things to my patients. I am also very sex positive. Our culture creates so much stigma and fear regarding sex. I feel it is important to provide patients with practical, clinically sound information regarding sexual health that is free of stigma and judgment.
5. When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I am very dedicated to fitness and love to work out. I also love cooking and outdoor activities. I am an amateur guitar player. I also love to dance.