Natalie Garcia had nursing in mind for a potential career from the time she was in high school, drawing on her early experiences visiting her grandmother in the hospital on a regular basis.
“I remember watching the nurses take care of her and just falling in love with the idea of caring for others and medicine and all things related to healthcare,” says Natalie, who grew up in Provo, Utah, where she still lives today. After high school, she became an LPN and an RN, earning the ADN at Utah Valley State College in 1996.
Pediatrics and mother/baby
Natalie started her nursing career at a pediatrician’s office, where she stayed while starting a family of her own. She also joined the PRN pool at Utah Valley Regional Hospital before switching to the pediatrics floor of Timpanogos Hospital, an HCA Healthcare facility, in 2003. She moved up to a level 3 RN in the neonatal intensive care unit in 2005.
“I love working with babies and children, helping them feel better and even when they are too young to talk, I feel like I communicate well with that patient population,” says Natalie. “It’s always been a pull for me to work within this niche.”
BSN in 2012
Once her children were a little older, Natalie decided to go back to school for a BSN. “I knew I’d get the BSN eventually, but I needed the right timing,” says Natalie, whose first child was born in 1998. She graduated from an online university program in 2012 but knew it wasn’t where she’d stop. The MSN was in the back of her mind.
“I wanted to get a master’s degree, and when I started thinking about going for it, I was working in the quality department at Timpanogos,” says Natalie. “I love that role, but I really do enjoy bedside patient care. I want to be part of helping diagnose and treat patients, but I’d also love to get into more complicated procedures. My goal was to return to school so I could use my nursing skills in an advanced way. That’s what led me to the Nurse Practitioner path.”
Next step: nurse practitioner
Through HCA Healthcare, Natalie learned about a scholarship program to American Sentinel College and decided the timing was right to explore the MSN Family Nurse Practitioner programs. “Because of the partnership with HCA, the university really made things streamlined and easy,” she says. “I love functional medicine and I love pediatrics, but I’m still exploring what I want to do and how to put the Nurse Practitioner to use when I am finished. American Sentinel has been great so far.”
Natalie started the MSN FNP in 2018 and will finish in mid-2021. Her future plans are still undecided but she’s excited about what is to come. “I could see myself practicing on my own one day, but I want to learn from others right now, because I think that collaboration is so vital.”
A lot to give
While she is excited to finish out her career as a Nurse Practitioner, she’s most looking forward to making a difference. “I want to be on the frontlines of providing quality patient care,” she says. Returning to school to help her achieve her dreams has been worthwhile, even when it has been difficult to juggle family, work and classes. “You’re never too old to continue to grow in your profession and improve. I think it’s a great thing for my children—who are in their teens and 20s now—to see. I’m showing them that there is always room to grow. You can always learn and I always plan to keep learning!”
Inspired by Natalie’s story? An MSN program can be your passport to a specialty nursing field, like nursing education, informatics, nursing management and organizational leadership, infection control, or nurse practitioner. Specialized knowledge forms the foundation of these nursing fields. When you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.
Read the other student success stories for more inspiration.
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