As Sacramento climbs out of the economic recession, several sectors are emerging as area strongholds. One of those is health care services. The May 2014 employment report shows that Educational and Health Services added 1,300 jobs from April 2014 – its greatest increase since 2002.

(Photo Courtesy of Lisa Downey)

(Photo Courtesy of Lisa Downey)

For Sacramento nurse Lisa Downey, helping a classmate recover from a serious auto accident first led her to consider a health care career.

“The pull of actually seeing and touching the people with whom I was working had been constantly nagging at me,” she said via email.

Now five years in the field, how do you view American River College’s program? 

“I feel that I am as prepared to do my job every day as any nurse from any nursing program. As silly as this sounds in the entirety of what it is to be a nurse, I wish ARC had spent more time teaching how to start an IV. Other than that, I feel like I was given the tools necessary to start my career. Now that I am working on the floor, I have the opportunity to work with students from a variety of nursing programs as they do their clinical rotations, and students from ARC tend to be much more prepared for the actual day-to-day life of a nurse, so I know the high level of education continues.”

Do you have any advice for aspiring students?

“Well, my first response might be that they should look into donut making or something like that, but of course, I eventually tell them that while difficult, being a nurse has rewards that go beyond a paycheck. It isn’t for every student who gets in. It isn’t for every student who is able to get through the four semesters and pass the NCLEX, it is something that I think requires a passion for helping people at the most vulnerable time in their lives. I love what I do, but there are days that I hate my job. There are days when I never want to come back but I never stop thinking about my patients and how they touch my heart. I try to pass what I can to the students who are interested in what it is really like to work on a fast-paced, high-intensity floor.”

Carol Terracina-Hartman is a freelance writer based in Sacramento. She covers all things environment. In 2012, she received the Outstanding Service Award from the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. See her work at


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