My healthcare journey
I have often been asked how I wound up in healthcare. It was a definite departure from the path I was following in my early high school years. During that time, I was enrolled in a collaborative program between NASA and the Norfolk Public School System. We were tasked with creating a method to grow plants in zero-gravity environments. I was on the thermoregulation team, and we worked to find solutions to monitor and regulate the extreme temperatures of space. At this time, I felt I was destined to follow in my father's footsteps and become an engineer. Later in my high school years, we relocated to a rural area without such programs. Engineering options in my new locale were also less prominent than previously. The lack of those options led me to contemplate another career path. I had many interests at the time, including computers and photography.
I first became interested in healthcare when I was in high school. My brother and I joined the volunteer fire department and completed First Responder medical training. When it came closer to the time for me to graduate, I was faced with deciding what I wanted to go into career-wise. I decided on nursing as my stepmother had recently completed her RN program, and I found myself reading her books and becoming more interested in healthcare.
Through my work as a volunteer firefighter, I became aware of my satisfaction from helping others. I signed up for the required prerequisites for the local hospital-based diploma RN program, hoping to be accepted to nursing school. Near completing my year at community college and obtaining said prerequisites, I was accepted to the nursing program.
I was so excited that I was going to pursue my goal of continuing to help others.
Nursing school was tough, and I worked nearly full-time hours for the duration of the 2-year program. I was able to work as a Professional Nursing Assistant (PNA) at a local walk-in clinic. As a PNA, I could complete any tasks that I was signed off on in nursing school. This included phlebotomy and later IV starts. When we had a patient come in with chest pain or another emergent need, we would start IVs and ready the patient for ambulance transport to the hospital.
In nursing school, I found that my favorite area was critical care. My goal became to work in an intensive care unit.
With the experience of a volunteer firefighter, I had also become familiar with the area flight programs, and my ultimate goal was to become a flight nurse.
I continued working at the walk-in clinic upon graduation, albeit with my new RN title. A few months later, I was offered a position in the critical care unit of the local hospital. I was so excited to be on my way to the career I had imagined!
I worked for several years in critical care, floating between those areas and emergency departments. This experience was crucial to my pursuit as a flight nurse. After applying and going through a rigorous interview process, I obtained my dream flight nurse job. My experience in this role has been second to none other in my career.
Later, I returned to the critical care bedside and advanced the clinical ladder of my current organization. Upon returning to school for my BSN, I decided to pursue leadership. I have held several leadership titles, including Assistant Director, Nurse Manager, Director, and Clinical Nurse Manager. I discovered my passion for education and have worked as a senior evaluator for an MSN program, guest lecturer for a local university, and adjunct faculty for an undergraduate nursing program.
One thing I enjoy most about my nursing career is the diversity of settings and roles I have been able to experience. There is always a shortage of nurses, and I encourage others to explore nursing as an option for their careers.
Recently I embarked on a new venture in nursing as a health and medical writer. I hope to extend my nursing experience and knowledge to an even larger audience than I have in the past.
I am excited to embark on this new venture and hope you will join me along the way!