Thursday, February 2, 2017

My 20-year dream in the making

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have wanted to be a doctor since I was 12 years old. I wanted to be helpful. I did well in school, so logically that meant doctor. Had I known then (or anytime before age 20) about all of the medical careers that exist, I may have chosen differently. For starters, I wouldn't have majored in psychology or just one major and I would have probably picked a different path. Some things that might have interested me were dietitian, health educator, sonographer, optometrist, podiatrist, child life specialist, or physical therapist. There are so many great careers in medicine that are just as fulfilling as physicians and nursing that don't require the time or debt to have a good life. And it's not something they really teach you in school. And culturally, where my family is from, these careers may not have existed 30 years ago as they do in the USA.

Nevertheless, I got into nursing. Maybe it was my younger sister getting into it (through a high school CNA program) or my uncle Jesse (and his two children) who was a Registered Nurse who always said "you should be a nurse" or the 2008 recession causing a lack of jobs in public health that lead me to nursing, but I am glad I found it. I love nursing and I enjoy the flexibility it provides me within the field. In my 5 short years as a nurse, I've worked for seven employers (some jobs simultaneously) and have learned sooo much! None of the roles needed special certifications just on the job training. My major advantage as a candidate was that I am a bilingual/bicultural native Spanish speaker, which is a must for living in California (Cantonese, Mandarin, Tagalog, Vietnamese are great languages to have in certain areas, too). I am also proud to say that after my sister graduated form her LVN program and me from my RN program shortly after her, I had 1 male cousin finish his RN, with 2 younger cousins inspired to do nursing, and 1 older cousin thinking about it. Honestly, I think anyone can find a career in nursing, even if you don't think you're a people person. There is no informatic nursing, administrative nursing, and legal nursing which don't require blood or guts (except to get through nursing school). I tried to convince my husband to do it, but he didn't budge.

So my point is, I wanted to help people since I was 12 and I think my dream has always been to see sick people and help them with their health problems. I love being like a health coach to help guide people in the right direction. I have a special passion for chronic disease and mental health issues because of my personal and family experiences. And while I don't care about making a ton of money, nursing does provide a stable income and usually good benefits. So I've been a nurse for 5 years in several different roles, all of which have had some great qualities, but none of them have been my perfect fit. Right now I'm close as a Diabetes Population Manager at Kaiser and as a virtual nurse for One Medical. I think the only improvement would be having an advanced practice license to do more than what I can do now. I've seen other people do this and I think I can be just as good if not better.

Long-term patience is not my best strength, but my plan for 2017 is this:

  • Sticking to my One Medical part-time job as a virtual nurse and primary care experience, it has potential for a virtual NP role in a couple of years.
  • Sticking to my Kaiser per diem role as a diabetes population manager for the chronic care experience and potential NP role for about 12-24 months.
    • Get my CDE certificate!
  • Start the NP program in June 2017-July 2018.
  • Pass boards in July 2018 (whoa, I gotta study now!)
  • Find an NP job in 2018!
  • Pay down my $178k loan ASAP. This I can do a little better as a NP than a RN, because there are lots of loan forgiveness programs for NPs.
So it'll have taken a little more than 20 years to finally get to where I want to be, but I think I'll enjoy the journey. I love my nursing work right now and the pace of my life, but I can't wait to do more.

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