Hometown: Fort Pierce, FL
Name of Undergraduate Institution: University of Miami
Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: Nursing, Public Health
Residency Program: Lawnwood Regional Medical Center STARN Nurse Residency Program (August Cohort)
Favorite Quote: “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” – Rumi
Contact Info: firstname.lastname@example.org
LinkedIn: Crystal Jackson, BSN, RN
Where are you currently at in your career path and why did you decide to pursue this career path?
I am currently working as a Registered Nurse in the Progressive Care Unit at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Fort Pierce, Florida. After graduation I applied to various hospital residencies across the state of Florida, but ultimately I made the decision to move back home to Fort Pierce as it would be stable (and cheaper), making it easier to take care of my daughter. I recently completed the STARN Nurse Residency program through the hospital and I started working independently a few weeks ago! I signed a 2-year contract to work at the hospital, which is becoming more common with nursing residencies, but it works out because the guaranteed job and the experience that comes with that is priceless and will benefit me greatly.
Initially, I came to the University of Miami as an Exercise Physiology Pre-Med major. I had rooted in my mind that I was going to be an orthopedic surgeon and that was that! I actually did pretty well in the pre-med classes, but it wasn’t until actually shadowing physicians and getting insight into the lifestyle that I had to really evaluate my passion and vision for my life (much to the dismay of my parents) and I quickly realized that the nursing model of care is more in line with my personality. Funny enough, through clinical shadowing I also realized that I actually hate ortho! I’m very empathetic and wanted a career where I could spend the most time interacting with patients. I also wanted flexibility and in nursing you can work in different specialties with ease and the opportunities for advancement are immense! However, I really do appreciate MDs as I would not be able to do my job without them!
If you could go back and have a chat with your 1st year postgraduate self, what would you tell her?
Although I’ve just recently graduated in May, my life now as of today is so drastically different than when I walked across that stage and I am in such a better place that I think I could have this conversation. I would tell myself that everything is going to fall into place. You have done all the right steps and have everything in order. Breathe. Relax. Enjoy the summer. Nursing students have a tendency to stress about everything. With the rigor of nursing school and the constant weed-out if you are not on your p’s and q’s, you could very well miss something important and fall way behind. Of course back then I was stressing about everything from the NCLEX-RN to getting into a residency, and even if I would be able to pay my student loan not due for months!
What advice would you give to a nursing student looking to pursue a similar path as yours?
I would tell anyone interested in pursuing a career as a nurse to first and foremost understand that this is not a glamorous job. In fact, no career in healthcare is glamorous. I liken nursing to manual labor. Also, nursing is not the easier “cop-out” or second choice to becoming a physician. Again, two completely different functions, training, and schools of thought. Lastly, you absolutely cannot become a nurse for the money! Yes, the money is great and more importantly the job stability is a huge bonus. However, if you are not humble, if you can’t be bothered to get dirty, or cannot work with the sick, poor, and/or people with different beliefs than you, then no amount of money is going to compensate for quite frankly the amount of BS that you are going to deal with on a regular basis! Not to scare anyone, I love nursing and I am proud to be a Registered Nurse but this is the reality of the profession.
Can you please walk us through a typical workday?
I work night shift (7PM-7AM), so ideally I would be napping throughout the day, at least from 12PM-5PM. I wake up at 5PM, get ready, get my daughter ready, drop her off then I’m out by 6. Get to the hospital by 6:15, look at my assignment for the night on the board, grab my report sheets, go on the computer and write down any new orders, abnormal labs, and newest plan of care set by the doctor. Clock in at 6:38PM. Then go to the floor to get report on my patients. After report, this is where your own time management and personal style comes in. I like to make sure all my patients know who I am, how to call me, and if they need anything at the moment. Then I’m doing assessments, pulling meds, updating charge RN and hospitalist, answering call bells and helping coworkers. I probably get to sit down at around midnight and chart. I’ll take a lunch break at 3AM. Hourly round on the patients. Make sure they are alive and/or comfortable. Write notes. This continues until day shift starts to come on at around 6:30AM. Then I’ll give the oncoming RN report. This is a typical night without any admissions, rapids, or codes of course.
What do you feel makes your specialty stand out from other health professions?
The hospital would not function without nurses, bottom line. Everybody has their place and role in the hospital but it’s nurses who are touching patients. We are the eyes and ears of the doctor because we are with the patient 12 hours a day and know everything about that patient. In short, we need each other! The best thing that stands out about nursing is the sheer flexibility one has! I work Progressive Care now, in a year I could work Labor and Delivery, I could do part-time in the OR if I want. The possibilities are endless and I feel like you can never get bored in your position as a Registered Nurse because you don’t have to be static in your career. We are not locked into a specialty like other healthcare professionals per-say.
What gives you the greatest motivation to get up every day to go to work?
Definitely my daughter. I am in a great place right now. I bought a new car. I am paying my bills. I have a guaranteed career and I am making excellent money for a 22-year old college graduate. It has been a struggle to get to this point but I am extremely blessed and it is an honor to go to work to not only support my daughter but to care for the people in my community who need it the most.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
It’s a little-known fact in nursing that the hardest part is landing the first job. But once you have that job, and you get at least 1 year of experience, you’re golden. You can move anywhere and get a job, you can do travel nursing, and you are competent enough to switch specialties. 1 year is that magic number!
How do you manage to balance your work life, your romantic relationship, and your family life?
I have a 1-year old daughter and right now with her father deployed with the military; I’m basically a single mother. This all factored into my decision to move back home where I have a bigger support system of family and friends to help me out when I need it. I work nights solely because I never want to miss a waking moment with my daughter. When she is sleeping, I am at work. When she wakes up, I am home with her (albeit I’m trying to sleep at that time but still!). As a RN I work 3 nights a week full-time, so it is very flexible and I don’t feel like I am away from my daughter as much as if I was working, say, 5 days a week.
In an alternate universe, what career do you think you would be in right now if healthcare wasn’t an option for you?
If I wasn’t an RN I would want to teach health in high school, or in a perfect world, sex education. The great thing about the nursing field is that I can combine my love for healthcare and education. I am looking into MSN programs in Nursing Education with the hopes that one day with some experience under my belt, I can become a clinical instructor and teach future nursing students.
Who are some of your favorite musicians? Favorite books? Shows? Movies?
In no particular order:
- Musicians – Future!!! Jhene Aiko, PartyNextDoor, Bryson Tiller
- Book – Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
- Shows – True Blood, Sons of Anarchy, Shameless, OITNB
- Movies – Waiting to Exhale
Thank you so much for sharing not only your perspective of healthcare with us, but also some insight into who you are Crystal! Understanding the perspective of a nurse is highly essential, for nurses are an indispensable part of the healthcare team! You are very much appreciated!
Posted on January 2nd, 2017