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Looking back, I never imagined I would be a nurse or for that matter a successful adult. I grew up in Tennessee and came from a low-income background; neither of my parents went to college. In in my early twenties working long hours in the hospitality industry for a family-oriented theater. I was assigned tasks such as serving ice cream and cleaning bathrooms. During this time, my husband and I also had a three-year-old daughter at home. One night one of the “stars” of the theater show that was a mere 16 years of age demanded I clean the bathroom as she hurried on stage.
Suddenly, I thought to myself “Is this the direction I want my life to go in- a 16-year-old commanding me to clean a bathroom when it was actually her turn?” I thought about my older sister who had recently completed vocational school to become a licensed practical nurse. I thought how proud I was of her and how I would want similar success for myself; so, at that moment I decided to go to college and became a registered nurse.
Fast forward, dedicated to reaching my goal; I graduated and fell in love with nursing as well as academia. I worked on a busy neurology unit in the Veterans Administration Hospital in Gainesville, FL while obtaining my BSN. I obtained a master’s degree in nursing education as teaching is of great interest to me and continued my education obtaining a family nurse practitioner post master’s certificate.
Then, I was employed in Florida in a busy general neurology practice attending to both hospitalized and office patients. Neurology intrigued me and I thrived in the hospital environment. My family and I moved back to Tennessee as my parents are aging and have health issues.
Recently, I found the perfect position in a large academic hospital -University of Tennessee Medical Center as an Advance Practice Nurse. Nursing leadership at UT Medical Center prefers that the advance practice nurses be certified as clinical nurse specialist as opposed to nurse practitioners which makes sense as the CNS focuses on patient populations. This new role intrigued me. As I researched the CNS role I discovered this is the perfect role as it combines all my favorite aspects of nursing: the patient, the nursing staff and the organization. As I mentioned before, I enjoy the hospital setting in particular the neurology patient population. The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialist states “Clinical expertise in a specialty is the hallmark of CNS practice” (NACNS, 2016).
My short term educational goal is to become certified as a CNS. A long term educational goal is to obtain the Doctor of Nursing Practice. Professionally, I plan remain at UT Medical Center working closely with the nursing staff, utilizing evidence-based practice with a focus on the neurology patient population. University of South Alabama is an integral part of these goals. I chose University of South Alabama because I want an innovative and quality nursing program.
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