How I Found Success

One of my dreams is to become a life coach. I love helping people find their passions and plan for their future. I have actually had to train myself to enjoy life a little more and not always be focused on my next move. My husband helps me do that… However, I am still always planning and trying to grow in every way possible.

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Someone once told me that I should write about how I was able to find success and create a career, despite the struggles I encountered in life. I am the oldest of 4 children and my family did not have money, to say the least. My parents worked very hard to make ends meet.

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I came up with some major areas of my life that come to mind regarding how and why I became the person I am today. I am not writing this to brag about all that I have done. My hope is to inspire others to find their version of success.

I started working as soon as I could.

I started working at the age of 15, as soon as I could get a worker’s permit. That was when minimum wage was $5.25 an hour and I was thrilled when it got increased to $7.25 an hour. I got one job, then a second job, then a third job. I knew that if I wanted to drive a decent car and have a cell phone, I had to work to pay for it.

Sports and Church.

I always participated in sports. My home life was toxic so these activities not only helped build my success and discipline, but kept me busy and out of that house. I went to church on Sundays and Wednesdays as my escape as well. When my parents stopped going, I kept going with my aunt and uncle. I believe that staying in church had significant influence who I have become and how I see life. I don’t go to church nearly as much as I should anymore. However, when I go, those weeks are so much better than when I don’t. I listen to Christian podcasts and audible books almost daily, which help me continue to grow, spiritually.

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School was always important to me.

When the early college program was created during my 11th grade year, I applied for it. I never settled for the path of least resistance. I graduated with my Associate’s Degree a month before I graduated from high school. After that, I went to Ferrum College and completed by Bachelor in Health Sciences with a minor in Psychology. I always knew I wanted to do something in the medical field. I got rejected from PA school but that was a blessing because I found my passion in nursing. After Ferrum, I went to Jefferson College of Health Sciences where I completed by Accelerated Bachelor of Nursing.

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Everyone faces rejection at some point in their life. Get back up and keep moving.

I did not stop there.

After finishing nursing school, I landed my first career job in Orthopedic Surgery. I chose to work for a teaching hospital because that is where I came from. I had worked as a Medical Scribe in the Emergency Department for Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital in Roanoke VA and Franklin Memorial Hospital in Rocky Mount, VA. I had completed all of my nursing clinicals at Roanoke Memorial. Teaching hospitals are so valuable because your education is just as important to them as it is to you. I thoroughly enjoy working with Resident Doctors. VCU Health also has a Nurse Residency Program (NRP), similar to many other teaching hospitals. This program is one year long and required as part of your nursing orientation. You complete an Evidence-Based Practice Research project and attend monthly teaching seminars. At the end of the year, you present your project to the hospital.

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I continue to climb the ladder.

When I started my career, I was not ready to just settle in my position and collect a paycheck every other

week. Being a nurse requires passion, determination, and endurance. There are 5 levels of the Nursing Clinical Ladder at VCU. After my first year, I immediately applied for the Clinical II RN level. I did not wait. That is an immediate 8% raise that you would be crazy to pass up and sit on. My second year, I started preparing for my Orthopedic Nursing Certification, joined the hospital-wide falls and restraints committee, and continued to build my portfolio. I learned that if you work hard enough, you can skip Clinical III and go to Clinical IV, getting both raises at the same time.

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I believed in myself to achieve more.

The requirements of a Clinical IV nurse were to be certified in your specialty area, be a preceptor, show that you’re a leader in not just your unit- but in the hospital, be a part of a hospital-wide committee, have your BSN, and have at least 5 years of experience. I knew that I checked off every goal except I had a little over 4 years of experience, not 5. I got myself a portfolio coach and attended all the professional portfolio classes. I applied for the Masters in Nursing Administration and Leadership program with VCU and worked my butt off for the Clinical IV advancement. You CAN do ANYTHING you put your mind to. After a long year of building this portfolio and then sitting in front of the board, explaining how I was working at the Clin IV level already despite my short 4 years of being an RN; they approved this advancement. I was SO happy, I cried. That was a 14% raise for a lot of hard work and dedication.

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I will never stop learning.

There is no reason to not be in school if you work for a company that offers to pay your tuition as a benefit. VCU Health pays for their benefited employee’s education up-front. The amount depends on if you work part time or full time. I chose to continue working full-time to get the most tuition assistance and take the part-time MSN program. I never see the bill from my school. I am so thankful for this benefit.

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I always have my next goal in mind.

When I became a nurse, I immediately started planning for my next move. I saw what the Clinical Coordinators (CC’s) did on my unit and thought, that is my next move. I love supporting staff, helping people, and coordinating things. I love being that resource. I quickly grew into a charge nurse role and almost 4 years into my career, I started applying for CC positions. After a few interviews, I chose to take the CC role on my unit I had been on for so long. I didn’t see a reason to go anywhere else. I am certified in Ortho, the staff was like family to me, and I was already competent in the role. However, the hour-long drive and long working hours were really starting to drain me mentally, physically, and emotionally. So I looked into jobs closer to home.

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Work/life balance is important to me, now more than ever before.

VCU Health merged with Colonial Orthopedics, which is much closer to my home. I had been working 12-16 hour shifts, nights, weekends, and holidays for 4 and half years and was ready for some stability and work/life balance for my new marriage. I transferred out to the ambulatory clinics as a Clinical Coordinator and am now responsible for a lot more management/administrative tasks such as hiring, keeping time, ordering supplies, monthly audits, etc. I am enjoying this role and new schedule but I am not going to stop looking at my next goal. I have a 5 year plan and a 10 year plan.

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In conclusion…

I am only telling you what I have done to find success for myself. Success to me may look different than your version of success. So here are my takeaways and my advice to anyone who feels stuck, rejected, unsuccessful, behind, etc.

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  1. You CAN do anything you put your mind, heart, and soul into.
  2. I left my hometown to find success. It was hard but you can, too (only if that is what you want).
  3. Never stop working! Don’t ever quit one job before you start another- (unless it is negatively affecting your health and well-being).
  4. Find disciplined activities that help you grow mentally, physically, and emotionally. For me: it was sports and church.
  5. Never stop educating yourself. I am NOT saying you should go to college. I think VERY highly of trades! My husband is successful in his HVAC career.
  6. To piggy-back on education: Get as many certifications and licenses as you can that help you grow in your career.
  7. Don’t be complacent. Always think about what your next goal.

“There is no comfort in the growth zone, but there is no growth in the comfort zone.”

“When was the last time you did something for the first time?”

Thoughts to help you get started on a path to find your success:

  • What is your 5 year plan? 10 year plan?
  • If you could do ANYTHING and money was no object, what would you do?
  • Think about a time you felt complete bliss or happiness. What were do you doing? Who were you with?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What is stopping you from starting?

You have to start somewhere. Take baby steps and just go for it.

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