Amy Delacruz always wanted to be a nurse. While other kids were playing with stuffed animals, young Amy was “playing trauma” with her Cabbage Patch dolls. Now a registered nurse, the Sacramento native says she “can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Delacruz earned her bachelor of science degree in nursing in 2008 and has been working at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento ever since. Delacruz completed the clinical training portion of her degree program there and feels that the acute-care teaching hospital was a perfect fit for her.

Students interested in becoming a registered nurse in California must get a two-year associate’s degree at minimum. Delacruz stayed in school to earn her baccalaureate degree, a decision she has never regretted.

Studying nursing

Amy Delacruz (credit: Valerie Heimerich)

Amy Delacruz (credit: Valerie Heimerich)

Completing her four-year degree gave Delacruz the chance to take classes beyond the traditional college prerequisites and nursing curriculum. And while she wouldn’t have anticipated it, the business courses were among her favorites.

What she learned in management and leadership classes have proven to be quite useful on the job. Delacruz says those skills help her with problem solving, teamwork and time management.

The latter is particularly important to Delacruz. She and her husband both work and care for their energetic one-year-old daughter and bright, inquisitive 11-year-old son.

Having a bachelor’s degree also opens the door for more advancement and faster career movement. Delacruz says that some of her highly skilled coworkers with associate degrees are being urged to finish their education.

Nursing in Sacramento

The Sacramento region currently has more registered nurses than job openings for them. The economy forced baby boomers to reconsider their retirement plans, and with many experienced RNs staying on the job, there are fewer positions for those just entering the field.

Delacruz works as a med/surg nurse, handling a wide variety of duties for the hospital’s adult medical and surgical patients. She enjoys it because she gets to interact with plenty of patients and staff members, and she learns something new every day.

Working at the UCD Medical Center has been very positive for Delacruz and she feels lucky to have been given the opportunity. “The doctors at UCD have trust in the knowledge and competence of the nursing staff,” she says, and the atmosphere is all about teamwork. Having everyone focused on the good of the patients makes for a cohesive, productive environment for all involved.

In regards to education, Delacruz agrees that the classroom training in the nursing program was valuable. But “nothing prepares you for what a nurse does” like the clinical side of the program.

The clinical experience is “sink or swim” according to Delacruz, since they deal with actual patients and their very real health issues. Thankfully, she says, the rest of the medical team “always has your back.”

Delacruz feels that Sacramento is the ideal place to be an registered nurse, and that isn’t just hometown pride talking. She says that the pay here for nurses is significantly higher than in many other parts of California, and that the union is fair and supportive.

Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
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