By Jennifer Billingsley, FNP-BC, MSN, RN
Assistant Professor, College of Nursing and Health Care Professions
I was holding the delicate hand of a 98-year-old woman who had raised six children and worked on a farm for over 50 years. I watched as her breathing started to slow down, and all of the stress and worry washed away from her face.
I was a senior in high school and had just watched a person die right in front of me. Peacefully. I felt the presence of God pick her up in His arms and cradle her frail body.
It was in this moment that I knew I would be a nurse.
At age 16, I started as a weekend activities coordinator in an assisted living facility or, as most people refer to it, a nursing home. Each patient had their own values, nuances and, most importantly, beautiful smile.
After I finished my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), I worked as a registered nurse (RN) in critical care for several years. The critical thinking of administering medications, reporting lab values and conducting physical assessments intrigued me to pursue a master’s degree to become a family nurse practitioner (FNP).
My eyes were quickly opened to all of the various clinical practice arenas for FNP’s. In Arizona, you can practice autonomously as a primary care provider in family practice, specialty areas (i.e. cardiology, pulmonology) or even patient’s homes.
After working several years in a gastrointestinal and liver disease specialty, I found myself working in a house call practice. I currently treat patients in their homes as their primary care provider. This type of practice is very rewarding because I can provide patient-centered care in a comfortable environment with minimal distractions or time constraints. The service is convenient to many elderly patients because they have limited mobility and may find it physically difficult to visit a provider’s office.
As my professional nursing career progressed into becoming full-time FNP faculty at Grand Canyon University, I had a passion to continue my higher education. I am currently enrolled in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at GCU, and my thoughts of patient care have evolved into a greater desire to improve patient outcomes in the geriatric population.
Nursing is a unique profession that blends the art of love and compassion with the medical intelligence to produce quality patient care. Not only can I hold the hand of my 98-year-old patient, but I can also ensure that many patients like her live a life of quality and respect from the health care community.
GCU offers nursing and healthcare degrees through our College of Nursing and Health Care Professions. Learn about our nursing degree programs and what sets GCU apart by visiting our website or requesting more information using the button at the top of the page.