Rx for Success: Jenny Lyn Aldeza, med surg nurse

Rx for Success: Jenny Lyn Aldeza, RN, Never Stops Improving in Life and Med Surg Nursing

In Vivian Health’s ongoing Rx for Success series, we profile a healthcare provider from our platform each week, highlighting critical career moments fueling their renewed passion for healthcare.

As Vivian Health caught up with med surg registered nurse Jenny Lyn Aldeza, she was helping out at her family’s new restaurant in Anchorage, Alaska. The restaurant, her husband’s dream, opened this year thanks in part to capital saved by Aldeza during her extensive healthcare career. Lately, when not at the restaurant, Aldeza has been working local travel nurse contracts that she finds using Vivian.

In a written exchange before our conversation, Aldeza shared her personal mantra: “Never stop improving yourself in a way that can serve patients, family and co-workers.”

Her career is a model of the fruits of that philosophy put into action.

Starting Over as an Immigrant Nurse

Over a decade ago, Aldeza née Tababa already had a bachelor’s degree in her home country, the Philippines. She had worked there and in Singapore as an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse. Then she met her husband, an American, and immigrated to his home in Alaska without registered nurse (RN) licensing in the United States or a mastery of English.

As the Aldezas began building their family in Anchorage, adding three daughters along the way, Jenny Lyn slowly practiced her English and prepared for the RN exam. Simultaneously, she worked six years as a patient care technician (PCT) because she also lacked the licensing to be a certified nursing assistant (CNA), which Aldeza says pays better than a PCT. Both roles share many of the same tasks centered on patients’ activities of daily living (ADLs), such as patient hygiene, dressing, eating, mobility and waste elimination.

Her years as a PCT would influence her later work philosophy as an RN, but getting there wasn’t easy.

“I failed my RN examination twice, and then the third time, that’s when I passed it,” Aldeza told us. “I did not give up at all!”

Though she already had a career in Asia as a nurse, her new challenge was mastering the English language. She had to pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam, which took five attempts. Still, she was continually motivated by her mantra to never stop improving.

“Imagine all the depression and everything every time you see that you failed,” she said. “But I never gave up!”

Finally, in 2017, Aldeza passed all the required exams and became an RN for the first time in the U.S. Her perseverance and hard work started paying off very quickly at her first med surg RN job.

“They saw probably how hardworking I am, and at eight months, they offered me a supervisor position. And then, shortly after that, I became a charge nurse.”

A Husband’s Dream Leads to Travel Nursing

Jenny Lyn Tababa, Medical Surgical RN

After working at the same health system in Anchorage and moving up the ranks for 12 years, Aldeza amassed some retirement savings. A switch to travel nursing last year opened additional opportunities for both Aldezas.

“My husband wanted to have a restaurant, and I wanted to take out my retirement money to start the restaurant, but the hospital couldn’t give it to me while I was still working there,” she explained. “The only way was to resign. So, I did resign. I took out my retirement money and gave it to my husband. We have a restaurant now!”

She continued, “He helped me a lot in pursuing my career in nursing when I was in school, so now it’s my time to support his dream,” said Jenny Lyn.

Meanwhile, switching to local travel jobs allowed Aldeza to explore the other health systems in her area, earn more and find a better long-term fit.

She explained, “One of my friends said, ‘These hospitals are hiring local travel nurses,’ and I started to dig into it, and that’s when I found Vivian. Vivian was actually the platform I signed up with first.”

After using Vivian to find a local travel contract, Aldeza said she’s enjoyed the lucrative nature of such jobs.

“I’ll be honest with you, it’s big money really versus being a staff nurse,” she said.

Taking local travel contracts also allowed Aldeza to explore health systems besides the one she had long worked at. Now, she plans to take a staff position at a new health system she tried out on a travel contract.

“For me, one thing that really pulled me into this other facility is a better ratio of nurses to patients.”

“Think Like Florence Nightingale” and Other Wisdom

Jenny Lyn Tababa, Medical Surgical RN

With multiple positions in healthcare and immigration experience under her belt, Aldeza tries to put all she’s learned and experienced into practice wherever she works.

For one, she finds that her years working as a PCT have influenced how she supervises other nurses and assistants. Technicians and CNAs appreciate her work ethic, she said.

“I’ve been there in the nursing assistants’ shoes,” Aldeza explained. “Their salary is lower versus nurses, and their job is physically harder.”

Meanwhile, when she trains and supervises RNs, Aldeza implores them to “think like Florence Nightingale,” a famed progenitor of modern nursing. That means not being above helping with physical work like ADLs, which are often left to assistants.

“Sometimes our new nurse grads don’t want to do a physical job, like helping a patient go to the bathroom or cleaning up a patient,” she said. “You are there to help the patient, reposition them, help with bathing, help with eating, everything.”

Aldeza also advises new nurses to get their start in her field, med surg nursing, before seeking other specialties.

“I feel like medical surgical nursing, it’s like the basics of nursing. It’s like your foundation, and then it will all be easy when you venture into delivery, perioperative or ICU.”

Aldeza also tries to harness her experience as an immigrant to be a better provider. She said that she notes when patients may not have a strong command of English.

“I try to advocate for them,” she explained. “We’re very diversified over here in the U.S. Diversity is good, but we need people who will speak up for all this and advocate for it, especially these newcomers from different countries that are not yet so into English that they can communicate well.”

Keep Pursuing Your Dream Role

While the past year has seen Aldeza focused on her husband’s restaurant dream, she anticipates her own dream future in healthcare management, after her daughters are grown and she can work the typical daytime hours of a management position. To prepare for such a role, she’s earned her master’s degree with a specialty in leadership, continuing her mantra to never stop improving.

Never stop improving in your own career. Seek new opportunities, including PCT, CNA and RN roles with Vivian.

Michael Hines

Michael Hines is a freelance researcher and writer based in Brooklyn, New York. For 20 years, he's written on various healthcare topics, including healthcare employment, telemedicine, healthcare legislation, obesity, immunotherapy and genomics. He also writes about technology and AI, public policy, finance and investing, consumer products and corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices.

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Thank you Michael and Vivian for featuring my career story.


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