Like most nurses, Priscilla de Anda is quite accomplished at juggling. She's a married mother of two young daughters — five-year-old Abbi and one-year old Aly — and an intensive care nurse at Laredo Medical Center. She's also about to become a student again. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) in 2014, and will return to her alma mater for her master's degree this fall.
For de Anda, wearing multiple hats every day is just part of her routine. Perhaps that's why she likes the hectic, high-pressure atmosphere of ICU nursing. "I have learned that it is very crazy," she said, "but it's a pace I enjoy.
"I started off on the med surge unit and it was go, go, go, go. In the ICU, you only have two patients, but they're still critical and you're still on the go. That's a pace that I'm comfortable with," she said.
Nature and Nurture
De Anda, an avid animal lover, began her journey to nursing by caring for furry patients. She worked part-time for a local veterinarian during high school.
"Originally, I went in with the intention of getting my BSN and then applying for veterinary school," she said.
Nursing won out – for now, but she still spends lots of time with her animal kingdom.
"I have four dogs and three cats. My daughter has a frog and a hamster," she said. "We also have several betta fish, a 10-gallon shrimp tank and a 58-gallon tank with all sorts of fish. I feed hummingbirds in my front yard. I volunteer with a local rescue group to foster dogs – two of my dogs right now are fosters."
After earning her BSN from TAMIU, De Anda immediately started work as an RN at Laredo Medical Center. She has gone on to have a career that is almost as diverse as her pets. From LMC, she moved on to pediatric private duty nursing with Epic Health Services, providing in-home care for children and round-the-clock support for their families. Next she worked as an inpatient rehabilitation RN at Doctor's Hospital Providence Health Center, a role she very much enjoyed.
"You see patients come in after they have had a stroke, they're there with you for an extended period of time," she said. "And then they leave walking, and that is amazing to me." In the spring of 2019, she returned to LMC and settled into her current position in the ICU.
She's seen a lot in her first five years of nursing, but one part of the job never gets old: watching her patients thrive. "I really like seeing them get better," she said.
A Solid Nursing Foundation
To work in the variety of care settings — like de Anda — RNs must be adaptable and always ready to learn something new. She says her BSN professors at TAMIU helped prepare her for different roles by teaching the importance of enduring skills such as time management and bedside manners.
"The instructors were really good about helping with just about everything. Very knowledgeable," she remembered. "I love how they focus more on taking care of the patients and making sure they're happy, healthy.
"They would stress a lot of communication with family members, with your patients, especially while dispensing medication. Letting them know what they're getting and what it's for is important," de Anda said.
De Anda, who was born and raised in Laredo, also appreciates the hands-on practice experience her BSN training provided beyond the initial clinical rotations. She is thankful for the apprenticeships she was able to do with experienced nurses. Her favorite part was visiting Driscoll Children's Hospital in Corpus Christi and the San Antonio State Hospital to experience healthcare "outside of our community."
After working as an RN for several years, de Anda sees the benefits of starting her career with a BSN rather than an associate degree. BSN study enabled her to get "more in depth with everything." She notes that most of her coursework stressed evidence-based practice. Her training helped her understand how targeted research and attentive patient care can go together to benefit patients. "I still go back and read a bunch of my books," de Anda said.
She believes healthcare employers are currently appreciating her BSN education as well. "Oh, yeah. They take you quickly," she laughed.
Advanced Practice Ahead
Next, de Anda wants to become an advanced practice nurse — specifically a family nurse practitioner. After she completes her Master of Science in Nursing at TAMIU, she hopes to work with children. "I would like to go into a pediatric kind of setting, with a doctor's office," she said.
For now, de Anda works weekend shifts in the ICU while her husband, Leo De Anda Jr., finishes his culinary arts degree. He's on track to graduate this summer. "We take turns," she said. "He helped me through my bachelor's and then he went to school, now it's my turn to go back."
Her hospital has been supportive too, allowing her the flexibility she needs to be a nurse, a mom and a student. "They are helpful in working with my hours," she said. "I'm already going back to school and I've only been there a month."
As she moves closer to her goal of becoming a nurse practitioner, de Anda knows how valuable all of this support will be. But encouragement from her loved ones is the best motivation.
"Just about my whole family was at my graduation," she said. "Now I'm going back, so they're even happier."
Learn about TAMIU's online RN to BSN program.
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