Sunday, September 23, 2012

Changes (pt. 2)

Hey y'all,

I can't believe it's been over a year since we all graduated from Biola and went our separate ways.  I think I can honestly speak for the large majority of us that where we are now is not where we ever expected ourselves to be when we were still in nursing school.  I'm still kind of reeling from all the changes just within the past year.  But it's been good--through the hills and valleys, I greatly appreciate the journey so much more.

I just wanted to share and update you guys with what's been going on in my life, too.  The last time that I blogged on here, I had just stepped down from the charge nurse position at my clinic and took a job that entailed less supervisory responsibilities and more hands-on patient care--which is what I wanted.  I know I post a lot of funny stories within the context of my life as a skid row nurse, but it was a way to cope with the physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion I felt working within that community and within my organization.  And while I loved my patients and greatly valued the ministry opportunities that my clinic had on Skid Row-I found myself wrestling with, what I like to call an existential crisis-- I felt like I wanted/needed to do something different before I felt completely and utterly burnt out.

Earlier this year, I had had the opportunity to intern with a group of consultants from a company called Coleman Associates ( and I really liked what they did (to read more about what it is they do/what they are about, read here). Long story-short: They came to my clinic in August 2011 to evaluate the processes my clinic had in place and to  introduce new methodologies that would streamline patient flow--ergo, making our processes more efficient and more patient-centered.  They were at my clinic for a week and I was able to work closely with them because I was charge nurse at the time and was therefore automatically included in the Operations Team (the team that coached/delegated the methodologies recommended by the consultants.)  They had invited me to be part of their mentoring program and I traveled with them a couple of times to different clinics, where they did the same thing.  I received a lot of hands-on training on these trips.  Plus, I had a blast.  I have always loved traveling.

Fast forward to the last couple of weeks: After much much prayer and whole lot of thoughtful consideration I asked the CEO of the company if they were interested in taking me on full-time.  I love patient care, but feel like my calling or my strengths are in leadership and administration.  Some soul searching revealed that I greatly want to be an agent of change. It's no secret that so many health care organizations are dysfunctional and ironically, unhealthy environments to work in.  Patients are overlooked and money and business is made a priority over seeking the general welfare of fellow human beings.  I believe in what Coleman Associates want to do, what their mission is and  I felt that working with Coleman would help me grow professionally and stretch me in the ways that I needed so that I can be a more effective leader.  After a few emails and phone calls, she said that she had plenty of work for me to do and I would be able to join the team on a more full-time basis.  I was ecstatic.  I turned in my two weeks notice at work. My last day of work at the clinic was on 9/14.  I have been on a "furlow" since then and have enjoyed some much needed time off.  Tomorrow (9/24) I hit the ground running.  I'm flying off to San Francisco to meet my teammates and we're working with a clinic in the City for the next week. Then two more clinics in San Fran in October.

It's an exciting time. I am so so so so excited about this new opportunity, this new adventure.  I absolutely feel like this is such a testament to the goodness of God, that I have been given this chance to learn and be part of something I am passionate about. That I had to be in the right place so that I could meet these people.  Sure, I'm nervous.  This is new ground--it's a much different way of using my Biola nursing education. It ain't your typical clinical nurse route.  I am thankful that I feel like this is absolutely the next step that I need to take.  I don't know where it will lead me or what's in store for this next chapter in my life. But I'll keep you guys posted.

Much love,

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

From the Mighty Mississippi to the Rio Grande

Hope you are all having a great summer. I just wanted to fill you in on some changes going on in our lives.

As many you already know, Joe applied for a position with Homeland Security, or Border Patrol, about two years ago. It has been a very long and time consuming process, involving physical tests, written tests, background checks, and lots and lots of waiting. He finally received a call with a job offer on June 25th! He was offered a job for Santa Teresa, NM, which is just west of El Paso, TX. We drove out to Nashville yesterday, and today he passed his final medical exam and physical test. So it is official. We will be moving to El Paso! The next step for him will be a 5 month live-in academy in Artesia, New Mexico. So we will be living separate for that time period. His start date is July 30th. I plan on staying in Memphis until about December.

This is a very bittersweet time. I am so excited for Joe. It has been my prayer for a long time now that he would find a job that he can enjoy and thrive in. I am excited about living in El Paso. It looks like a city that we will both be able to really love. But at the same time, I am going to really miss Memphis. We have a church here that truly does feel like family. I am going to miss it very much. I love Memphis and it has been a privilege to be here for a season, though short, to serve and love on the people of the city. Ever since I've lived here I've noticed that people either love Memphis or they hate it. And I really love Memphis. It will always hold a very dear place in my heart, and I am certain that I will be back to visit some day.

It's crazy for me to look back over the past year. When I graduated nursing school, I was in a very spiritually dry place. I was applying to so many jobs and not getting any response. I remember feeling so discouraged. But moving to Memphis ended up being such a blessing. I went to feeling like I was in a place of spiritual abundance. I had a job I enjoyed, a church I loved, and was able to get involved in so many incredible ministries in the city. God has been so faithful to me and I feel so blessed. Now I pray that I can find the same sort of community in El Paso.

If you could please keep us in your prayers. It will probably be very difficult for me to be living apart for five months, but I know that this is what God has planned for us. You can pray for Joe too... the academy will be very mentally and physically demanding. Love you all and hope all is well!


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Nurses' Health Study - Go Join!

Hi all,

Happy Nurse's Week!
You may or may not have heard of the Nurses' Health Study, but it began in the 1970's and recruited a new cohort of nurses in 1989. These groups of female nurses answered questions about health, lifestyle, etc, and the data gathered has lead to numerous breakthroughs in our understanding of women's health and various conditions. You can read about the findings here.
They are now recruiting the next cohort of female nurses until they reach 100,000 participants. It's all online and the questionnaires are now branched so participants can skip to relevant sections. It seems like a great way to be a part of health research, and we all know how important research is in changing health policies and practices for the better. I encourage you all to join, and spread the word! (Sorry, John and Ryan, you're not eligible, but you can tell your coworkers!)
Join here:


P.S. - Do you all have as hard a time as I do actually believing that it was almost a year ago that we graduated?!?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

to my beloved classmates

i have yet to have written on this blog. 
i have my own blog that i update fairly regularly, so writing here too seems redundant. 
but for whatever reason, it's 2 am, i'm still awake (thank you, night shift), and i feel like writing to you all. 

the collective life changes in the life of our little group in the past few months is unreal. 
marriages (congrats jacy and clara!), cross-country moves,  new jobs, new cars (not yet for me though :) and so many other things. 
my life hasn't changed as much as many of yours. 
and for that, I'm grateful. 
i don't know about for you all, but being a "real nurse" has had enough challenges for me. 

adjusting to the pressures of working in a hospital, the reality shock of interacting with non-Christian coworkers, and the stress of feeling responsible for patient's well-being is huge. 
the past month or so i've finally started to feel like i've hit a little bit of a rhythm. 
as much as you can when your schedule's so irregular. 

but what i want to say to myself and to you all, the reason i wrote this, is to remind us WHAT A BLESSING we've been given!
what a blessing it is to be in the position we are in. 
what a blessing that people trust us with intimate and private details of their life.
what a blessing that we have the power to impact people's lives for the worse or for the better.
what a blessing that we have the Spirit of God in us and are able to speak words of LIFE in a place filled with suffering, despair and death. 

i've been challenged recently to do just that: speak words of life. 
speak words of life when i speak with my unsaved coworkers.
speak words of life to my patients and their families who are hurting, scared or even hostile. 

i pray that God uses each of us in mighty ways wherever He has placed us, and that by our love in word and deed those we encounter would be pointed to our Savior. 

i love and miss you all!

by his grace and for his glory,

Thursday, January 12, 2012

When in doubt...God really does care.

These last 6 months, I've been employed as a charge nurse at Los Angeles Christian Health Centers.  I don't think anyone would deny that that was a big step to take for a new nurse--especially a new grad.  I was blown away at the opportunity, but knew that God would have to carry me through, because it is a big job with a lot of responsibilities.  I admit that I was excited at first, but it seemed that my responsibilities grew to levels that stretched my capabilities in a way that have never been stretched before.

Though it has been very difficult, I have an undeniable sense that God brought me to my clinic for a purpose.  However, it has been in these last couple of months--especially these last few weeks-- that I've really felt the increasing burden of my work. I felt that I wore many hats. I was the security guard (pffft. yeah, right?), triage nurse, clinic manager. I would work in the dispensary (kind of like a pharmacy) from time to time (and when I did work in the dispensary, I was still being the triage nurse, and the clinic manager). I scheduled staff, hired and trained new medical assistants.  Not to mention that I was also supposed to oversee six other satellite clinics, dispersed throughout Los Angeles. Needless to say work did not stay at work.  I was called/texted by employees late in the evening or early in the morningand long after I left work and sometimes on the weekends.  There were many days when I would have to take work home--whether to update outdated MA handbooks, or just paperwork left over from the day. Working 10 hour shifts 5 days a week was not uncommon.  I felt drained of the energy that I used to have--I could see that my zest for life was not the way that it used to be. I started to question why I was a nurse and was day dreaming about other not-so draining jobs (being an artist, a full-time stay at home bum, etc). I was struggling to find joy and contentment. In fact, my heart felt dissatisfied and discontent.  I would ask God if it was supposed to be this hard, that maybe I just needed an attitude adjustment because I want to be obedient. I know I'm not always the best at being obedient, but ultimately, it is what I want.

I stayed home from work on Monday because I didn't feel well, but also because I felt like I didn't have it in me to go to work. I spent a lot of that time praying honestly. I told God that it really seemed like it was too much. I didn't think I was ready to deal with the responsibilities of a manager. I wasn't necessarily asking for a solution, but was looking for direction, or a change of heart. And possibly, super human strength.

Tuesday morning started off like every morning--lots of praying for strength to make it through the day.  We were short-staffed that day due to people calling in sick and then I sent an employee home because he was feeling ill, then found out he was quitting at the end of the week--I am already short-staffed in general, so that was sad/stressing news. Throughout the day, I was juggling phone calls from the other sites that I managed, trying to figure out supplies needed, trying to help the providers with patient care and training two Medical Assistant externs who were new and needed a lot of teaching.  Thankfully, the patients themselves were calm and no one wanted to yell/speak to the supervisor and no one was rowdy/trying to pick fights in the waiting room.   At the end of the day, my boss called me and asked to speak to me in her office.

I didn't know what to expect really--well, ok, I kind of wondered if she was going to talk to me about how much work I've been missing in the last few months.  I was nervous by the time I got to her office.  She mentioned that I have been sick/out a lot, but she asked me a question that I didn't expect her to ask. In a caring tone, my boss asked me if I wanted to be there, to keep working at the clinic. I was surprised--I didn't know how she knew to ask the right question, but she did. I began to tearfully explain to her how drained I have been feeling, how I don't feel like myself, that I feel stretched beyond what I can handle, that some days I don't come in to work because I don't feel like I can handle it.  She didn't scold me or treated me like I failed--like I feared she would-- instead she responded with such grace and hugged me for a very long time.  She prayed and said to me "God has you, Linell. You are blessed. If this is too much for you, we can change it. This isn't a matter of failure. You are a new nurse--it wasn't fair to put all of this on you."  And in a matter of minutes, she called the HR director in, they began discussing my new role as just a clinic nurse, taking all supervisory responsibilities off my shoulders.

I was completely caught off guard. I did not expect that to happen. I really felt that God cared. And I was beside myself, overwhelmed. He saw/sees me and wants to show me that He loves me.  And he is doing that through my boss, who for some reason, has really taken me under her wing and is an advocate for me. I know that it's nothing that I've done necessarily. It's God's grace played out in a very real and tangible way.

I wanted to share with all of you. I am not sure what my new position now entails, but I will definitely get to focus more on patient care and I think I will have a more positive outlook about my job. I am looking forward to enjoying life again and having the energy to be more well-rounded. I am looking forward to see what God will do. He never ceases to amaze me.

"'You are a God of seeing,' for she said, 'Truly here I have seen him who looks after me." [Genesis 16:13]


Monday, January 2, 2012

Missus-sippi, here I come!

Hi all,
So I think most of you have heard by now via Facebook that I got a job! I wanted to write a post to update you, though, to give you guys the full story.

As you know from my previous post back in September, I have been applying to jobs and was turned down by the military. I pretty much just applied everywhere, barely noticing where I was applying except to keep track of how many apps I was putting in. I found that helped me feel productive while I was getting nothing back but rejection emails.

In November, I got a phone call from a hospital in Greenville, Mississippi. At that point, the positive responses I had had were an in-person interview with CHOC and two phone interviews with other out of state hospitals. All of them had said no. This hospital, Delta Regional Medical Center, wanted me to come out for an interview. In the first conversation, the concern was raised that I was not from the rural South, and might come out to start a job and then leave after less than a year. (They have had problems with losing new grads to bigger cities after 3-6 months.) I was hesitant to spend the money to go out there, but I had few options and couldn't be picky.

I planned a trip for the first week of December, and basically hoped for ANYONE else to offer me a job so I wouldn't have to go on my trip. I was so not interested in moving to a small town in Mississippi if I had the choice to be... well, nearly anywhere else. It didn't happen, so I left for my trip, anxious but trying to see all the positives about Greenville.

When I got there, I felt overwhelmingly sad. This is a community that has been hit hard by the recession, with businesses closed on nearly every block and an unemployment rate of 13.5%, significantly higher than national average. That day, I visited apartments and stumbled upon a small nature preserve. I sat there and prayed and processed and it basically hit me, "Maybe this is why I have my public health nursing certification". I still felt sad, but almost instantly passionate about making a difference in this community, and ready to pour into it everything I learned from our community health semester. That night, I talked to Andrew and he was right on the same page with me, ready to go for this adventure if that was what God had for us, seeing it as a mission field.

The next day, I interviewed with the director of Med-Surg, the director of ICU, and the CNO (no pressure!). They all went well and I was amazed at how God gave me such a calm where before had been so much anxiety. I flew home that night and the next day I got a phone call. Not only did they offer me a job, but both departments had given good feedback so they let me choose! I chose the ICU. They have been very understanding about the license transfer process and me getting married, so they are letting me start after the wedding, and didn't even tie me to a specific start date!

So here we are, just over a month from my wedding, and a move across country only 2 days after that. (Literally, we're getting married on Saturday and leaving Monday! Aah!) Andrew is amazingly supportive, just wants me to get this experience even though his job prospects there are limited and grad school options nonexistent. Since we should be able to do fine on my salary alone (Thank the Lord for lower cost of living! Also, Andrew has NO school debt, incredibly.), he is going to be looking for internship or volunteer opportunities related to his field, but really just planning to volunteer wherever there are needs, full-time.

We are getting very excited about this new adventure, and I'm thrilled to finally have a job, and in the ICU at that! I'm glad to be just three hours from Clara and Luis as well as Cory and Joe. I am applying to a federal loan repayment program (link below -- see if your hospital qualifies!) because Delta Regional meets the requirements, so please pray for me to get accepted as I could have 60% of my loans paid for a 2-year commitment! Oh, and I will most definitely have a Southern accent in about 2 days since I started to pick it up while I was there for not even 36 hours!

So that's the long version of what's new in my life. I know that this is where God wants us to be, and have a wonderful peace about it. I hope you all had a great New Year's and are doing well.


NELRP, deadline Feb 15, 2012.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hello whirlwind

Wow. Okay, so a lot of changes in the last...week. I'm still whirling.

Basically I've been putting online applications in since July. At first they were all for hospitals in this area, but in more recent weeks I got started applying out of state to new grad positions or other hospitals that looked semi-promising. It's been overall very gets very frustrated putting in application after application and not getting any responses.

Thursday morning I was driving home from visiting Luis on my days off from work....I was stuck in traffic, still in PJ's, hadn't showered in a couple days....and essentially had an interview over the phone without even knowing it. I spoke with the nurse manager on the restorative care unit at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, TN...she asked a few questions, explained the job, the unit, and the process of hiring and integrating new graduates into the unit. By the end of the conversation, she'd unofficially offered me a full time night position on the unit and told me to begin the process of transferring my license to TN and making plans to come out there to see the unit and complete some of the technicalities of getting hired.

Needless to say, the last couple days have been crazy. Getting over the shock...looking up the hospital...figuring out what the license transfer process looked like...then actually beginning that process (paperwork, fees, fingerprinting, requesting transcripts, making phone calls...). Today I scheduled a flight to/from Memphis and will be going out there the 18th-20th. Hopefully during that time I will meet with the nurse manager, nurse recruiter, get fingerprinted, see the unit, complete the pre-job offer pharmacology test, and then get a physical done (assuming that I get offered the job). It should be exciting.

Assuming I get the job....I'll begin working on moving out there. Given that the license transfer process could take up to six weeks, I may be out in Memphis by the end of November. Not sure how all that will play out, but it will be an adventure.

On top of all that has been the added questions of whether Luis will be able to move out there as well....whether he can find a long he and I can handle long-distance if that is required...what the future may look like for us if we can't handle long's getting really complicated and the lack of support from my family for Luis and me isn't exactly helping with those decisions. Anyway. He and I definitely have a lot of thinking and praying and talking to do just to figure out how to best pursue our relationship in light of these potential circumstance changes.

Regardless, it is pretty exciting. I'm so thrilled to finally have a potential job opportunity after months of searching and it's in a unit that really fits with what I want to do. Maybe it's a bit too intensive for me, but I like the thought of the long-term aspect and the opportunity to provide more psychosocial care for patients who may not get better. I hope that God is able to use me in a powerful way in this unit and at this hospital...the way this door has opened makes me think that it probably is where God wants me.