0 comments 17.05.2016
Every Wednesday, I will share a resident of the South Bay contributing to making our community a better place.
In honor of Nurse's Week last week, this week's WCW title belongs to South Bay resident, Jessica Darling, who has been working actively in the South Bay across several medical departments to improve the lives of many as a Nurse Practitioner.
Darling, 31, grew up in Lomita, CA. Early on, she knew exactly what she wanted to do as her mother and grandmother are both Registered Nurses. In result, she immediately began her educational studies at Harbor College in Wilmington which took a total of four years.
Upon completion, she began working at Torrance Memorial Hospital and while there, decided to go back to school to get her BSN from Cal State University Dominguez Hills. She spent 2 ½ years at CSUDH before transferring to CSULB for another three years, where she received her MSN.
In total, Darling completed nearly 10 years of academics. She says she is often asked why she didn’t just become a doctor. She says she simply wanted to contribute to a field close to her heart, and believes in the nursing model and the science of medicine. As a Nurse Practitioner, she is able to blend both.
Darling worked at Torrance Memorial for eight years in several departments including: Telemetry (1 1/2 yrs), ICU (1 yr), Cardiac ICU (4 years), Case management (1 yr), and OR recovery (1 yr). She moved around as much as she could, and once she felt she learned enough, she’d request to move to another department. Despite exploring many departments, she knew her real passion was critical care, specifically the cardiac ICU.
Throughout the years, she has found the most enjoyable part of her career to be her patients. “I see mostly geriatric patients; they are to me the most fascinating people. I really get excited when I get to hear their stories,” she says. Just a few days before, she had a patient yesterday who was in the battle of the bulge and she says that they have all seen so much & most love to share.
Today, she is not directly saving lives anymore like she helped to do in the ICU but she is improving the quality of life for people in her community working as a Nurse Practitioner. Most of her patients who come to see her are in a lot of pain, so she tries to get a strong history on all her patients.
Darling does not just list their illness & medication history like some do, instead, she asks them about their family, hobbies and goals. “Together, we come up with a plan to palliate their discomfort & get them back to living,” she says.
Transitioning from an RN to a NP was a huge change for Darling since she no longer works in the hospital. Instead, she works alone and no longer has a team of nurses that she sees weekly. She also no longer has MD orders to follow, but if she needs labs, an x-ray, medication orders- it is all on her. That difference alone was a huge adjustmentfor her.
The most difficult part for her has been balancing work with her personal life and remembering to take time out for herself. She says that because medicine is always evolving, it can be a lot to keep up with-- especially for her because she has moved through lots of different specialties through the years (Icu, primary care, rheumatology etc) while most MDs pick one in school & stick with it for life.
In five years, Darling sees herself continuing working as a NP, mastering salsa dancing, running a half marathon as she hates running, vacationing more, and possibly purchasing another home. She also recently began volunteering with a Medical Mission Clinic that meets at various churches in the South Bay. She says they meet together once every six weeks and will be meeting next on June 18 at Calvary church in Lomita.
She says that they begin at 8 a.m. and it is on a first come, first serve. Basis. “I encourage anyone who needs dental or medical services and who does not have insurance to come,” she says.
Darling also teach geriatrics as an adjunct clinical instructor at Harbor College for a few weeks out of the year.
Darling loves living in the South Bay for its proximity to the ocean. “Like most of us who grew up here, it is a special place for me. It's a place I go to run off the day, mediate, & sometimes just bask in the sun while wearing my spf 80 of course,” she says.
She also loves the small town feel of the South Bay and says there is nowhere she’s gone without running into someone she knows and loves being able to see old friends.
Darling would like others who are struggling to find a career path to know that nursing is an amazing profession to be a part of with limitless opportunities all over the world. “There is still a huge need for nurses-- at the same time I believe it is not a job, it really is a calling. Many people get into it for the money or the 3 days a week schedule. You can tell very quickly & so can patients,” she says.
She says that if you feel your calling is to care for others & you live in the South Bay, she recommends checking out Harbor College or El Camino- since both are affordable, local, and tough, but excellent programs. She says that you can work with your associates degree, but would also make sure that getting your bachelors afterwards is part of your career plan since more and more hospitals are now requiring it.
Thank you, Jessica Darling, for being a wonderful member of the South Bay community by doing more than just treating patients, but truly listening, caring and guiding each person as uniquely as possible to the best of their circumstances.