• Kathleen Burns

Clinician Spotlight: Jemimah, RN

Jemimah shares her ultimate career goals and advice for establishing yourself as a leader in the nursing field.

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your background and how you got started in nursing?

I actually grew up in Kenya. So I am originally from Africa and growing up my mom had a friend who used to be a nurse and every time she came to visit my mom, I just looked at her and I’d admire her. I remember at some point I told her that when I grew up, I wanted to be a nurse and she said to me, “No, you should not become a nurse. You should become a doctor.”

So at first, I stuck with that. When I came to the U.S. I went to school and yes, I was on a trajectory of going to med school and, you know, doing all the pre-med classes and stuff. At some point, I realized, nah, this is really going to take me way too long to become independent.

So I decided, you know, what, nursing is the way to go. So that's how I ended up in nursing myself and I have enjoyed it ever since. I'm back in school now to hopefully become a NP in the near future.

Q: What does your work schedule typically look like?

I have a full time job, I work as a Resident Care Director at an Assisted Living facility. I’m responsible for what we call the Wellness Department. So that includes the nurses, the residents, as well as the family members. Plus any vendors we use be it visiting nurses, physicians, or nurse practitioners.

So I work with connectRN [on the weekends] to keep up with my bedside skills that I don’t get to work on in Assisted Living like wound care, IVs, and medications.

Q: Have you always worked in Long Term Care?

Yes, I started as an LPN back in 2008 and worked on the floor for a few years. Then I got promoted to become a Transitional Care Manager. After that I finished my RN and I actually went to a hospital that had a Transitional Care United inside of it. I worked there for about six weeks and then I was approached by the current DON and they asked if I wanted to become a DON. At first I was hesitant, but eventually I agreed to it. I was a DON for five years, up until last June when I decided I wanted to go back to school and work somewhere closer to home. That is how I ended up in my current role!

Q: What are you most looking forward to once you complete school and become a Nurse Practitioner?

Hopefully I can stop trying to become an overachiever! But really, hopefully if my stars continue to align I would love to join Doctors Without Borders. Doctors Without Borders is a group of nurses and doctors that volunteer to go to underprivileged countries to provide services. Or when a catastrophic event happens, like the last earthquake in Haiti, Doctors Without Borders will go and provide services to help.

I feel like that would be the ultimate thing for me to do. To me that just sums up what I want my purpose to be in life. You can work, and it works as far as paying your bills, but I don’t want to look back and say ‘Oh I love to help and to take care of people.’ To me, that is just not strong enough, it’s finding what is my purpose as a human being and what can I do to impact great change. You know, it’s almost like keeping the light of Florence nightingale alive, thinking ‘What else can we do in this career that we’ve chosen?’

Q: What is the most rewarding part of being a nurse for you?

I think just taking care of people and knowing that, you know, you've done your best at the end of the day. To me that is the most satisfactory. And also with the staff at my full time job, being able to talk to them and be like, you are a CNA if you want to go to nursing school, go to school. If I have an LPN that is not sure if they want to pursue their RN or not, asking, ‘What is holding you back?’ and encouraging them to go for it. Or an RN who isn’t sure what they want to do next, encouraging them to get their feet wet, try new things, and whatever makes them happy, give it a go. Helping people be able to say ‘I tried and I failed, but at least I tried’ makes me happy too.

Q: Do you have any tips for nurses or aides who are interested in going back to school but aren’t sure how? How did you make that decision?

I’ve always just been a go getter. Once I’ve put my mind to something, I’ll make sure that it gets done. And I challenged myself. I don’t look at what other people have or have not done. I just put all the challenges in front of myself and I said, you know what, I can do this. No, self-doubt, you cannot do that. If you just continue to challenge yourself and say, you know what, I can deal with it. Then you can look back on what you’ve accomplished.

There are also resources out there that will help with doubts like ‘I don’t know what school is good’. The internet has a plethora of information where you could go and pull up a school and read reviews. It is your responsibility to filter what you find useful and what questions you want to ask about particular schools.

Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?

At my full time job, other people look at me as a boss. With a boss, things often get done behind the boss’s back that aren’t the best. So what I try to tell people is, I’m not a boss, I’m a leader. And when you’re part of my team, then I’m leading a family and we are all in this together. So people are able to come to me and say, I made this mistake, how do we fix it? Or, this is a situation that happened, how do we go about it? Establishing that I am a leader, not a boss, is the most challenging thing for me.

I do so by making sure the staff knows that they are part of my team, and that without them the work cannot be done. That makes a big difference. I’ve always started my relationships with everyone that I’ve worked with by saying, ‘Hey, we’re in this together.’

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