By Tanya Case
Alpha Gamma , University of New Mexico
For the past several years, many individuals have found themselves graduating from college but having difficulty finding a job. And in states whose economies have experienced a downturn because they are tied to the price of oil, it is even worse than ever.
A career in a health care profession is one that offers job stability and satisfaction. The stability is tied primarily to the aging of America’s baby boomers and their health care needs, and the satisfaction is centered around making a difference in people’s lives, but also the diversity of upward mobility.
A career in nursing can be very diverse. The location of our work can range from the bedside, a clinic and even your car should you choose to travel from home to home providing home health care or hospice care. Other nurses serve as case managers and assist individuals in navigating the vast health care system in order to meet their needs. Others may choose to work in public health as public health nurses dealing with everything from communicable-disease outbreaks to participating with other health care professionals in making sure that pregnant women receive prenatal care.
Recently, many nurses have chosen to pursue additional education to become an advanced practice nurse (APN). An APN is a registered nurse who has additional education and training in a specialty area. Certified nurse practitioners, certified registered nurse anesthetists, certified nurse-midwives and certified nurse specialists are examples of advanced practice nurses. These nurses have a master’s degree in nursing, or a doctorate degree and board certification in their chosen specialty. Although some oversight is required by physicians, especially in regards to writing prescriptions for certain medications, advanced practice nurses function autonomously. Due to their advanced degrees and their responsibilities, these nurses are highly compensated.
For me personally, my master’s degree in nursing served as a foundation to move into the health policy and health insurance industry. Although a less common path for nurses, there are nurses who hold or have held top-level positions within the federal government, and a nurse currently serves as the CEO of a large, five-state insurance company in the Midwest. Although these types of positions have taken us away from direct patient care, we are impacting populations of people by the policy decisions we make on a daily basis. And, most importantly, as nurses we have never forgotten who is most important in every decision we make—the PATIENT.
If you would like to discuss a career in nursing, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Katrina Shaklee, Ψ (University of Oklahoma)
2015 Real. Strong. Women. of Distinction Recipient
When I was pursuing my degree at the University of Oklahoma, I considered myself many things—an Alpha Chi Omega, a friend, a daughter, etc. When I turned 24, I had the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) attached to who I was as well. It became a part of me whether or not I wanted it. When I received the diagnosis I had two choices: embrace it and move forward, or be frustrated and afraid. I’m not going to lie—I did have many frustrations and there were times when I was certainly scared, but long-term, I knew I had to move forward and make the most of my new life journey.
I decided to take my passion for sports and combine it with my new diagnosis. Perhaps that may seem like an unlikely merge, but I, along with help from various other people, created a nonprofit to provide sporting opportunities for athletes with physical disabilities. In 2000, we staged the first Endeavor Games for Athletes with Physical Disabilities, and that event has flourished every year since.
Many people seem to be intrigued by my having multiple sclerosis and managing it by blending my love of sports and creating this event. I’ve never been hesitant to share my journey of being diagnosed, but I do struggle when people look at me as having overcome obstacles, or doing something different and amazing.
Why, you might ask? Quite simply, when I watch our athletes competing, they are the ones I see as truly overcoming obstacles. Yes, I have a disease that isn’t going away any time soon. And with MS, the disease is very unpredictable, can change how it affects you and can get worse with time. Right now, I am managing extremely well. So, when I am at our track meet to watch a race and I see a 4-year-old smiling ear to ear while racing his wheelchair, or when I see a 30-year-old with only one limb competing in swimming, I don’t reflect on my obstacles, but instead get to witness some amazing athletes, doing some amazing things. The athletes we serve every year don’t want to be heroes, nor do they want to be your inspiration. They just want to be seen as competitive athlete, and we try our best to give them that opportunity.
I never planned on doing this with my life, serving others through a nonprofit and now through my employment with the University of Central Oklahoma. But it has become a part of who I am. As Steve Jobs once stated, “If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” This is what the Endeavor Games does for me. I encourage you to find something that will pull you as well.