It takes a village to raise a child well, as the African proverb goes, and nurse practitioner Tia Knight-Forbes says her village is Amityville.
After working for local providers for several years, Knight-Forbes cut the ribbon for her own practice, ITAV-NP Family Health, in March in her hometown of Amityville. That abbreviation stands for It Takes a Village-Nurse Practitioner, and as a Black health care provider serving a Black community, it’s a message she lives by.
"The importance of having a doctor who understands your culture is huge," said Knight-Forbes, 41, whose dissertation centered on providing culturally competent care to Black youth. "If you don’t understand them, they are not going to listen to you."
Nurse practitioners are not physicians, but they can order diagnostic tests, prescribe medicine and often act as primary-care providers.
Knight-Forbes said she began her career as a 19-year-old phlebotomist at a Wyandanch clinic where veteran doctors encouraged her to pursue a career in medicine. She went on to become a registered nurse with degrees from Farmingdale State College, Stony Brook University, LIU Post, in Brookville, and in 2019 graduated from Walden University in Minneapolis with a doctorate in nursing.
Knight-Forbes, a first-generation college student who became a mother at 19, stressed the importance of the mentorship she received and said she pays that forward.
"There have been people throughout my life and career who have definitely saw the potential in me and were able to show me my potential," Knight-Forbes said.
She and her husband, Tevya, are the only employees of the growing Albany Avenue practice. The couple lives in Copiague with their three children. She said she chose to invest in Amityville, where she lived as a child, to give back to the community and serve as a role model for others.
"It really sends the message that people want to invest in and provide services in their community," said Babylon Town Councilman DuWayne Gregory, who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The practice is a stone’s throw from an area known as "the corner," an area in North Amityville that was a notorious spot for drug trafficking and prostitution in the 1970s and ’80s.
The town has focused on revitalization efforts in the neighborhood in recent years and plans to relocate its civil service department across the road from Knight-Forbes’ practice, Gregory said.
Just 5% of physicians nationwide are Black, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. However, on Long Island the population of Black nurse practitioners is roughly equal to the Black population at 11% and 9%, respectively, according to a 2021 report from the University at Albany’s Center for Health Work Force Studies.
"As the state’s population grows and becomes more diverse, a diverse NP [nurse practitioner] workforce not only assures an adequate supply of health workers, but also supports the provision of culturally competent health care," the report states.
Lynette Williams met Knight-Forbes at a clinic near Williams’ Roosevelt neighborhood. Williams, 34, said she had persistent headaches, but it wasn’t until she saw Knight-Forbes that she could link it to high blood pressure. Williams said she never had a practitioner make her feel so comfortable, so it was natural that she followed Knight-Forbes to her Amityville practice.
"I’ve never had a doctor that I can say I genuinely love," Williams said. "I told her if she goes to the moon, I’m going too."
SHE'LL SEE YOU NOW
- Tia Knight-Forbes DNP, FNP-BC, is an Amityville native who opened a family medicine and medical spa in her hometown.
- Her doctoral dissertation centered on providing culturally competent medical care to Black youths.
- ITAV-NP is at 455 Albany Ave., Suite C, Amityville. Call 631-532-5093 for more information.