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FNP Family Nurse Practitioner, Leadership, Chronic Disease, Underserved Communities

Updated: 17 hours ago

I have been dedicated to becoming a nurse since high school, when I began to volunteer in a hospital where I continued as a volunteer throughout my college years – usually in addition to working professionally as a CNA. Also, while still in high school, I almost lost my mother to a severe case of bacterial meningitis. While she did recover, it was a terrible ordeal with a long hospital stay. The nurses took me under their wing throughout this period and made me feel that I was part of the team struggling to save my mother’s life. The sheer intensity of the experience left me hungry for nursing, sparking my desire to give forth the same compassion I received from and gave to others - when it matters most.

The consistent and direct care that nurses provide, grants unique insight into a patient’s medical state and well-being, often allowing nurses to make holistic, truly patient-centered decisions. As a CNA, I seek to develop a connection with each patient I care for, to better understand their experience, needs, and wishes. “Is there anything else I can do for you,” I always ask? Through asking this simple question, I have had patients disclose symptoms indicative of possible medical emergencies. As an FNP, I aim to foster open communication and become an unwavering source of unbiased, lifelong support.

Through participating in interprofessional team meetings, I have learned that successful collaboration between the healthcare team is critical for providing quality care and ensuring patient safety. Vanderbilt’s focus on interprofessional team building is unique and important to me as I aspire to be a leading force in its implementation and development in clinical settings. This program's vision for creating real-life, learning experiences will not only prepare me to be an FNP but a leader in the advancement of healthcare as a whole. Throughout high school and college, I have participated in service trips to areas of the globe stricken by extreme poverty. While volunteering at a health center in Mexico, a local explained to me how managing his type 2 diabetes is a daily struggle, as he cannot always afford insulin and has limited food options. Experiences like this opened my eyes to the importance of affordable and accessible preventative care, inspiring me to volunteer in a medically underserved area back home in California.

My internship experience as a COPE Health Scholar provided me with the opportunity to serve alongside nurses in underserved communities and provide education along with care in Spanish as well as English. The prevalence of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension that plagued the Hispanic community was overwhelming. My mother is Mexican and because of this blood tie and my ability to communicate in Spanish, I feel a special connection - and a moral and vocational calling - to help Spanish-speaking, recent immigrants to the USA; this is central to my professional identity. As an FNP I want to be a leader who contributes to and utilizes clinical research to improve the delivery of healthcare systems and maximize the potential for the best clinical outcomes.

While working as a research assistant at the University of California, Santa Barbara Vision and Image Understanding Laboratory, I ran and participated in studies that examined false-positive rates of tumor detection in X-ray images. This experience left me most enamored with the research process, leading to my devotion to a lifelong participation in research, especially that which is devoted to the reduction of chronic disease in underserved populations. I’m particularly interested in chronic diseases as they represent the greatest cause of death in the US and are highly prevalent in underserved communities. I hope to contribute to the great need for increased preventive care and disease management which could drastically reduce the occurrences of chronic disease. This program's strong emphasis on research and evidence-based practice will allow me to continue to develop my research abilities and successfully incorporate the power of research into my future practice.

The versatility in patient age, medical conditions, and procedures that an FNP would entail are exciting to me as I could meet the specific needs of a large and diverse population. I am dedicated to this goal and plan to work at a public health clinic as soon as I receive my master's. After gaining leadership experience, I hope to bring primary care to an underserved Hispanic community by opening my clinic. Becoming an FNP would allow me to be a leader of needed change, improving the quality and delivery of healthcare while simultaneously extending primary care to underrepresented groups.

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