Los Angeles nurses are taking steps to further their education in preparation for a major influx of newly insured patients once the Affordable Care Act goes into full effect next year. In light of a growing physician shortage, new opportunities abound for nurse practitioners serving the public in primary care. With three bills making their way to legislation, each of which will expand the scope of practice for nurse practitioners, a new nursing degree is fast becoming a standard in response to emerging health care needs.   

Lia Yoon (photo courtesy of Lia Yoon)

Lia Yoon (photo courtesy of Lia Yoon)

“Doctorate of nursing practice is the new degree that is going to be cropping up all over the healthcare world,” says RN, MSN Lia Yoon, who earned her master of science in nursing from the University of Iowa and is now finishing up her post-master’s certificate to be a family nurse practitioner at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona. In fact, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing recommends that all nurse practitioners have a doctorate starting in 2015 to accommodate the ongoing changes being made in the quality and delivery of health care.

Higher education offers advanced career preparation

Yoon took a non-traditional route into nursing. While most nurses start out with a BSN, Yoon actually got her BA in Health Sciences before she decided to pursue an MSN. At the time she completed her MSN, the DNP educational programs were not yet the norm so she entered the post-master’s program instead, which turned out to be terrific preparation for Yoon wanting to enter the career world as an FNP. If given the choice, she would have preferred a direct-entry program for a DNP. Yoon believes her alternative career path and background in business will make her a more effective nurse practitioner.

Go for experiences that will challenge you

Not long after, she got her first job as a staff nurse. “I was lucky to have gotten a great experience as an intensive care unit nurse in a high acuity teaching hospital that served people from many walks of life,” says the health care professional. “I think that it is really important to get your initial experiences in settings that are the most challenging. Then, as you progress through your career path and other opportunities crop up, they will all be a piece of cake compared to what you’ve already experienced.”

Keep your eye on the prize

Yoon admits that nursing school can be a pretty taxing process, but the friendships you forge along the way and the life-saving skills acquired offer great personal growth which makes it all worth it. By the time Yoon earns her next degree, she knows she will continue to have more career options than she did before, especially in light of the doctor shortage relative to the anticipated patient influx over the next few years. “This is truly an exciting time to be a nurse since we are at the beginning of a brand new era of medical care delivery. I am so thankful that I am about to start my career at such an important and influential time in the profession of nursing.”

Niki Payne is a freelance writer covering all things Entertainment in Los Angeles. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.


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