MY ACNL

By Nathaniel Watkins, MSN, RN, CCRN

My Story

The course of life in the health care industry began for me as a young boy at the age of eight. With the encouragement of my mother I started volunteering at a residential care home for disabled children and young adults.  Assisting the quadriplegic youngsters to eat and wheeling teenagers to visit friends, inspired my desire to help others for the rest of my life.  The next fourteen years I worked in care homes and skilled nursing homes as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) while attending college to prepare me for the associate degree nursing (ADN) program.

I was the “kid” that struggled in school. I required remedial education and was told by my college counselor that I would never become a nurse because I was not smart enough. My grades were not good enough, and reading and writing were a challenge. But guess what, with a lot of work and supportive people, I did graduate from the ADN program in 2009!

I was immediately hired at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Stockton, CA where lucky for me, I met my very own Angel who became my mentor, she is now known to many as Dr. Anitra Williams or “Dr.A.”. Dr. Williams mentored me as a new nurse through the float pool where I gained many skills and experience. She encouraged me to participate in various committees involving patients and members in our community, which happened to be a few of my greatest joys --promoting events and educating others.  I soon enrolled into the Bachelors of Science in Nursing Program with Grand Canyon University and completed my studies in Fall 2012. With continued encouragement and inspiration from my family and Dr. Williams, I enrolled in the Masters of Science in Nursing program graduating Spring 2014.

With a passion to improve my career and make a difference in the world around me, I applied for and was offered the First Line Supervisor (FLS) position of a 31 bed medical surgical department under the leadership of Dr. Williams. After working in that role for one year, I transferred and became the FLS for float pool and relief hospital supervisor. It was during that time Dr. Williams invited me to become a member and attend the Association of California Nurse leaders (ACNL) 2015 conference where I met many new leaders like myself and senior leaders whom I was able to network and connect with. Dr. Williams told me that if I dared to be a great leader, that I had to make the commitment and join ACNL-the place where all great leaders belong. I joined a little over a year ago, got involved with the Member Experience Committee (MEC) and I have zero regrets. I was an instrumental player in the planning of the Regional South Conference under the direction of Dr. Williams’s subcommittee for MEC, and I am helping to plan great events for 2017. Since my involvement with ACNL, I was also recently promoted to a Manager of Nursing Administration.

Throughout my short time as a member with ACNL, I feel that it has elevated my nursing career as a leader, allowed me to be of service to others, I am better equipped to give back to my community, those I work with, and I am now in a position to inspire and encourage other leaders in the same manner that Dr. A has and continues to inspire me!

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