Dinah Hernandez, RN

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would become a nurse. What really changed the way I viewed nursing was my experience at Kaiser Sunset and being able to work with and learn from the nurses here. These were nurses who compassionately and emphatically cared for patients. That’s what I consider to be the beginning of my real journey of me becoming a nurse. And now I am in my 19th year!

It was also at Kaiser Sunset that I witnessed the benefits of being a member of UNAC/UHCP. I started my nursing career at a non-union hospital, and now at Kaiser Sunset, when there is an issue, UNAC/UHCP responds immediately to help the member. I’ve seen a lot of LAMC hospital nurses transfer to other Kaiser facilities because they don’t have a contract. Having a strong union contract has made a difference in our working conditions and wages.

Here in the Interventional Radiology Department, we treat the complicated cases that cannot be solved by surgery or other specialty areas. When other departments have nothing else to offer, they refer their patients to us. Being part of an emerging specialty can be stressful at times, but this makes for a challenging experience. I’ve developed my skills and I’m motivated to stay because I’m learning so much.

I consider myself extremely lucky with the opportunities that I’ve had. Sometimes I get a gut feeling that tells me that I have to do something and when an opportunity is presented, I just go for it. This is how I ended up at my first research conference in Australia. It was the first time in my life that I submitted an abstract and also the first time I ever travelled alone. It is because of that experience that I’m currently working on my doctorate at Azusa Pacific University.

I’ve had other opportunities since then that have led me to research sessions in Prague, Czech Republic and also to Kenya, where I worked with kids and adults afflicted with HIV and cancer. I enjoy meeting new people from the medical community and the thrill of not knowing what to expect. Later this year, I plan on studying abroad and working with the indigenous population in Ecuador. Beyond that, I am also thinking of a future in global nursing. I’d like to do research in the areas of cancer, palliative care, and vascular birthmarks.

I want to make a difference and improve the nursing profession by elevating it to a higher level. Uplifting the profession would mean delivery of quality patient care, professionalism, and advancements in education. I encourage all my fellow nurses and colleagues to go for whatever it is they are passionate about and make a difference.