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Faces from the Field: Becoming a Nurse and Paying it Forward

Posted by Kimberly Williams, RN, Children's Health Fund’s Phoenix Children’s Health Project

Hello, it’s Nurse Kim again. In my last blog, I promised to write about my passion for nursing and I never make a promise that I can’t keep. I’ll try to keep this story short for the purpose of this blog, but I could write an entire book about my journey as a nurse. The funny thing about my story is that I never knew that I wanted to be a nurse. The only thing I knew back in 1990 was that if I became a nurse, I would always have a job and would be able to support my children. That’s it. That’s the real reason that I became a nurse. I never even considered all the intrinsic rewards, like making people feel better, or being a part of a team that saves lives.

There hasn’t always been a nursing shortage like there was before the economy took a nose dive. In 1994, Phoenix Children’s Hospital was the only hospital hiring new graduate nurses. I was offered a job working on the general pediatrics unit on the day of my graduation. I had no idea that I was meant to be a pediatric nurse, but I was… to the bone! I’ve spent the last 17 years practicing pediatric nursing and have loved every minute of it. Even the hard days have been rewarding.

"My goal is to end homelessness and the nursing shortage at the same time."

In my last post, I mentioned that I have been responsible for providing nursing care at the largest family shelter in Arizona that houses approximately 200 adults and their children. I also mentioned that my passion for nursing has skyrocketed and I wanted to tell you why. Because I am responsible for all the health screenings, I have the opportunity to meet every family and spend some time getting to know them. During a typical screening, I usually discover the many reasons that have contributed to their becoming homeless. On occasion, I will meet someone who expresses their desire to enter the healthcare field and I simply ask them, “What’s holding you back?” Sometimes I get a multitude of reasons and some legitimate, but sometimes I meet someone who realizes that now is the time to become the person that they have always wanted to be. I meet people who realize that education is the answer to their problem and that nursing can provide them the paycheck that they’ve been seeking to help them take care of their family. Sound familiar?

In September, 2009, I started a club to help those who had started college or who were planning to start college pursuing a career in healthcare. We call ourselves the HealthCare Career Club. The club, which meets once a month for meetings and more often for events and fundraisers, is there to support and guide anyone who is experiencing challenges while pursuing their degree. The club has been able to provide each member with a computer, CPR certifications, help with vaccines, fingerprinting and any supplies that haven’t been covered by grants or scholarships. We have 20 members including a President, a Vice President, a Secretary, a Historian, a Photographer and a Special Committees Chairperson. We have honor students, scholarship winners and working interns. We have members from age 17 to 50 years of age. We have a mother-daughter team and a mother-son team. We have members pursuing nursing, sports medicine and respiratory therapy. We have members who are medical assistants and phlebotomists who are working while going to college. We have 3 members who recently completed their Nursing Assistant training as part of the nursing curriculum. Soon they will start working and collecting a paycheck while they continue on their nursing journey. Each member is dedicated and determined to end their homelessness and begin a new life. It has been very rewarding to watch each member grow, little by little into a professional that knows what it’s like to suffer and will have compassion beyond comparison. No one could ask for a better caregiver who practices with true empathy. You can’t learn that from a book or class.

Healthcare Career Clup started by Nurse Kim of CHF

The HealthCare Career Club believes in the individual, the family and community and that is what guides our activities. The club is small now but continues to grow. My goal is to end homelessness and the nursing shortage at the same time. It could happen. You can keep up with our progress at