The path to nursing school is not always easy. Zenith Rahman, a second-year family nurse practitioner student at the school, wanted to have a greater impact on health care. In her own words, she shares what motivates her as an RN, why she decided to come back to school to obtain her advanced practice degree, and how she wants to make a difference.
I WISHED I COULD DO MORE WHEN I FOUND OUT THE HOSPITAL BILL WAS OVER $3,000.
Going to the hospital without health insurance cost us more than what my mom made in a month. After breaking my arm, one simple ER visit caused me to write out a check for my entire life savings. Over the next few years, I watched my aunt become a widow because of her husband’s uncontrolled diabetes and my cousins orphaned because of their mom’s colon cancer. I realized how many lives could have been saved with early detection and personal attention in access to health care. I realized that nurses played a vital role in identifying red flags that could potentially be deadly. I made the decision to pursue a career in nursing to provide pertinent and preventative care to all people, regardless of their incomes.
I WISHED I COULD DO MORE WHEN I LOOKED INTO AN OVERFLOWING CLINIC IN TIJUANA.
I worked with a few like-minded students at UCLA to open a free clinic in the severely impoverished community of CoIonia Margarita Moran, Mexico. This community was uprooted from massive flooding and governmental projects, with little to no access to the outside world, let alone health care. When we started this clinic, we saw maybe 10 patients per day; now our waiting room was filled with over 50 patients, with even more standing outside our door. As an RN and Pharmacy Coordinator, I was able to triage patients, document history and physical examinations, and facilitate discharge and medication teaching. As I completed assessments in triage, I presented the care providers with differential diagnoses, suggestions for medication, and an individualized plan of care to improve clinic flow and decrease wait times. As I moved through the growing line outside the door, I craved the autonomy of nurse practitioners so I could provide a complete continuum of care to patients. I wanted more intellectual responsibility in arriving at a diagnosis based upon lab results and the clinical signs and symptoms of a disease process. I wanted to use the rapport and trust I’ve established in the community to give them the right diagnosis, medication, and advice to empower them to lead healthy lives.
I WISH I COULD DO MORE WHEN I SAW OUR FLOOR OVERFILLING WITH PATIENTS- THE HIGHEST CENSUS IN OUR HISTORY.
As a nurse, I identified a problem that many of our post-liver transplant recipients were getting re-hospitalized due to exposure to vaccine-preventable illnesses. I was curious as to why this phenomenon was happening and found out that administering live vaccines to post-transplant patients was against the current standard of care. After doing some research, I found that a few institutions around the world were administering live vaccines to their post-transplant patients with a broad range of success, but no adverse effects. I worked with the liver transplant team to propose a study to our IRB to change the standard of care at our hospital to determine the efficacy of administering live vaccines to post-transplant patients. As a co-investigator on this study, we are performing immunological tests of cellular and humoral immunity to assess factors that lead to successful seroconversion and assess the ability of liver transplant recipients to mount a protective immune response. As a nurse practitioner, I hope to continue my thirst for answers by utilizing research in my practices to improve the standard of care and patient experience.
WITH THIS DEGREE, I WILL DO MORE.
Becoming a nurse practitioner will enable me to do more. I found that the word “Nurse” is the perfect conjugation with the word “Practitioner.” Nursing gives you the necessary background to evaluate the physical and psychosocial needs of a patient while practicing the art of medicine. My background in nursing enables me to provide a higher level of care to all my patients. After working with doctors and nurse practitioners in various clinic and hospital environments for the last 5 years, I have become well-acquainted with the realities of delivering health care: the frustration of patient non-compliance, the barriers to health care education, and the red-tape surrounding insurance coverage. I hope to become a nurse practitioner to draw more attention to what happens after the patient leaves the office. I hope to place more emphasis on prescribing realistic treatment plans based on current research and each patient’s individual experiences to provide personalized, effective, and realistic treatments plans to maximize health outcomes. At the UCLA School of Nursing, I will no longer have to wish I could do more, rather, I will be equipped with the tools to transform the nursing profession by building innovative, inter-professional models of compassionate community-based health care.