Nurse Pedro Aguilar

Nursing Reinvented: Exploring Diverse Nursing Career Paths

When Pedro Aguilar stepped out of the traditional nursing path and into the role of a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, he not only transformed his own career but also the lives of countless individuals grappling with mental health and substance abuse. Through our candid conversation with Pedro, we shed light on the lesser-known but equally impactful realms of nursing, where compassion extends beyond hospital walls and into the heart of communities in need. Pedro's journey from a mental health provider to a nursing trailblazer exemplifies the profound difference one can make when following a calling to serve the most vulnerable.

The world of nursing is vast and varied, something that Pedro, a field RN and a non-profit board president, knows all too well. He shares riveting anecdotes from making house calls reminiscent of bygone eras to offering medical assistance at wrestling events, illustrating the colorful tapestry of non-traditional nursing careers. Pedro's experiences underscore the importance of cultural competence, as bilingualism opens doors to deeper connections with diverse populations. This episode is a tribute to the nurses who dare to combine their personal interests with their professional endeavors, illustrating that career satisfaction often lies in the unique blend of the two.

As a nurse with a free-spirited approach to his schedule, Pedro understands the delicate act of juggling the demands of patient care with his own well-being. He imparts wisdom on setting healthy boundaries and the necessity of self-care, discussing how his upbringing has equipped him with the empathy and resilience required in the world of independent nursing. For nurses at the crossroads of their careers or fresh graduates eager to carve out their niche, this episode offers a beacon of inspiration. It's a heartfelt reminder that in the quest to heal others, it's essential not to overlook the healer within.

Show Notes

  • 0:02:41 - Non-Traditional Nursing Career Paths (53 Seconds)
  • 0:06:45 - Discovering Field Nursing Through a Friend (78 Seconds)
  • 0:15:14 - Independent Contractor Servicing Three Counties (89 Seconds)
  • 0:25:22 - Supporting Patients with Compassion (118 Seconds)
  • 0:30:28 - Mental Health and Physical Fitness (70 Seconds)
  • 0:34:09 - Career Plans as a Psych Nurse (26 Seconds)
  • 0:38:19 - Follow Your Passion in Nursing (61 Seconds)

0:00:01 - Announcer

You are listening to the National University Podcast.

0:00:01 - Kimberly King

You are listening to the National University Podcast. Hello, I'm Kimberly King. Welcome to the National University Podcast, where we offer a holistic approach to student support, well-being and success- the whole human education. We put passion into practice by offering accessible, achievable higher education to lifelong learners.

Today we are talking about discussing jobs outside of traditional bedside nursing such an interesting interview and, according to a recent article in journals, psychiatric mental health registered nurses, or PMHNs, have a specialized body of knowledge and skills that are essential to provide whole person care to persons with mental health and substance abuse disorders. So this is a very interesting topic and again talking about jobs that are outside traditional bedside nursing. Stay with us. On today's episode we're discussing jobs outside of traditional bedside nursing, and joining us is Pedro Aguilar, a National University scholar and recipient of a double scholarship. His NU Scholar Scholarship covered his BSN RN and the NU Scholarship of Stamina for psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner Class of 2023. He currently holds the position of field RN and board president of a non-profit organization based in the inland empire and is in the process of obtaining his board certification as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, and we welcome Pedro to the podcast. How are you?

0:01:48 - Pedro Aguilar

I am doing great. Thank you guys for having me.

0:01:51 - Kimberly King

Great. It's really impressive. Congratulations. I love what you're going into and I have a feeling you'll have job security there. With the rates our world is in right now, why don't you fill our audience in a little bit about your mission and your passion before we get to today's show topic?

0:02:08 - Pedro Aguilar

So how it all started is I originally was a mental health provider. I worked with the probation and foster population, and I preferred to work with the intensive population because I felt it was more challenging than working with the traditional population. And from there it's stemmed the need for me to be a part of the mental health professionals in the sector of nursing, so I started to fall in love with it. So, therefore, I pursued my degrees and my credentials in nursing and I took it as a responsibility, more than a passion, more of a responsibility for me to give back to my community, and the best way to do that was to become a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner to be able to provide the same services in my community.

0:03:04 - Kimberly King

Good for you. You are, I can see, already quite a role model and an inspiration, so I love that and I can't wait to talk to you. So today we are talking about jobs that are outside of the mission of your traditional nursing roles, and I love what you said. You know you really have found your passion there. What are the traditional nursing roles? I guess bedside…

0:03:27 - Pedro Aguilar

Right, so there is a lot of traditional jobs. However, what is presented to you when you're in school, it's pretty much when you are doing your rotations right, the clinical rotation you're taking to a hospital and or clinic, when you're doing community health and you are pretty much exposed to the usual bedside jobs that are in different departments within the hospital, right. Also, the hospital is grounds for teaching, so you pretty much are exposed to that. So you know the traditional jobs that you see are. You know ambulatory, you do ED, the emergency department, ICU, which means intensive care unit.

You know labor and delivery and MedSurg. MedSurg being one of the biggest ones, you know that I remember hearing, so you're exposed to that and also psych. But these are part of what you're exposed to while you're in nursing school, you know. So we tend to think, okay, once I'm done with nursing school, I'm going to go ahead. I kind of like the rotation of labor and delivery, right, if that's what you like. So a lot of people get exposed to that without being exposed to the other jobs. You know what happens to the patient after he goes home. Who's taking care of him, right. Who's holding the hospital or is there a social worker involved, right. So a lot of those questions and I remember myself hearing about them when I was in National University. I don't remember hearing much of what happens after the patient, you know, because we also, especially in the LA County, we deal a lot with the homeless population.

So a lot of us think well what happens to the patient that has no home? Like does he just get thrown out in the street? And it has happened. There is documentation that you know says that patient was left at the corner of XYZ and you know his outcome was not a good outcome. So you know, we don't, we don't get exposed to that in school and you know me myself, coming from a mental health background, I was not aware of all these other non-traditional jobs. It only made sense to me when I once I was exposed to them, you know. So I think that's kind of like the reason why we don't hear about you know anything else. It's just like the ones I mentioned.

0:05:40 - Kimberly King

Good for you. I'm really so interested in exploring this. My brother-in-law is about to graduate from medical school and it almost sounds like when they make a match you know you're learning about all things that are in that, but it's you never really think about that for nursing. So I love that you're talking about this today.

0:05:57 - Pedro Aguilar

Even when it comes to that position right, you always hear people posting I made a match right, they made a match right, and then they post to hospital right. But what does that mean? When you say a match, a match in one way, and what a match of, like the profession, you're going into a matching in the finance, finances that you're looking for, what exactly is a match right? Because I mean, if you ask me what a match means to me, it's completely different than what it means to you.

0:06:23 - Kimberly King

Well, and what you're saying, or what I'm hearing you say, is, sometimes if you think you're going toward a match, but maybe you have to create your own match, which is kind of that, that's the pioneer area that you're going into and I love that. Literally, like I said, you're, you are on the precipice, I think, of something that's really changing. So I'm really excited for you. How and I can feel your passion, I see that how did you hear about this career job that you're currently practicing?

0:06:52 - Pedro Aguilar

So one of my, my good friends, in that I was in National University, Tony Sabah, he actually himself started working as a field RN and he kind of we had a group chat where he sent us information and a lot of people would dismiss it because, again, they're engraved in the whole traditional going to a hospital. Everybody wants to carry on. You know, I'm working at this prestigious institution, you know, and carry a badge of honor, right? A lot of people like to hear that I'm working at USC or UCLA and, oh my God, that's a lot of some red or even Kaiser. I remember when I was doing clinicals at Kaiser people, oh my God, that's a great hospital's, great pay, XYZ, right. And but my friend would post information on the group chatting. People would kind of dismiss it, right. Until one day I said you know what? What do you talk about? Let me shadow what you're doing, let's go ahead and see what you're doing, right.

And sure enough, he took me under his wing and he pretty much show me what he was doing as a field RN. You know, they give you the autonomy that you need. They allow you to do what is. What is it that you need to do? You know, nobody is breathing down your neck and it just pretty much really flexible to me. So I was like, wait a second, you're telling me, as a new grad, I can do this instead of, you know, doing a traditional new grad program that pretty much runs through the same department that I mentioned earlier, and he said, yes, wow, it made no sense to me because, again, I was not exposed to that.

0:08:20 - Kimberly King

Because you weren't exposed to it. But you know what? Also I see, probably one of your top, I think things that you have is compassion and really going out and meeting people where they're at and then with your professional background you know, really helping them. So I love it. How do you select a job outside of bedside nursing? So you kind of just talked a little bit about that. You really weren't exposed to that, but I guess, how else do you really research? How else do you find out about outside of bedside nursing?

0:08:50 - Pedro Aguilar

So one of the things that I do remember that it connected the dots for me was when he told me that I'm gonna be able to either travel anywhere within the seat that I choose to work at, I'm gonna be going into homes, I'm gonna be going into treatment facilities, I'm gonna be going into different areas of the community and the same thing I'm gonna be exposed to a diversity of issues and concerns that the patient has. This is documentation coming from a doctor that we have to go and do a check on patient who had recently had surgery. So we have to go check, do wound care. And when he told me that I was a hold on a second, so you're telling me that I can do that and provide those services. And it connected dots because I was already doing that in the mental health side. I was already going into the community where the kids exhibiting the behaviors. So part of my job was to go in the community and work with either the professor or the foster parents to teach them how to work. There was a lot of patient education on how to work with the this specific population of kids. So when I was exposed to that, it just made sense to me, right. It just connected all the dots and I was like, wow, so you are telling me that it is the same thing, but I'm just gonna be providing nursing services, because at then I was only a nurse. He was like, yeah, pretty much. So then that just created a window of opportunities.

You come across people that are also in the same as they're working as field RNs, but don't work for your same company, have different titles and hold different positions. Some of them were to be example were family nurse practitioners. We would show up and I would see a family nurse practitioner exiting the house. So you're exposed to a lot of things. So the minute you come across one job, if you're looking, you're gonna eventually find everything. So it's some of the jobs that I remember seeing were like hospice nurse. I can't do hospice. My heart's too small, not big enough to have that type of compassion. It would be really hard for me. But there's hospice nurse that I came across, palliative care nurses and just different type of nurses- IV nurses that specialize specifically on IV. I'm not an expert in that so I kind of was stirred away from that. But the minute you start doing field RN, you realize there is a lot of field RNs and it just kind of exposes you to a lot of jobs and opportunities that are there for you.

0:11:40 - Kimberly King

Wow, I'm thinking of so many things back in the day where you could make house calls. You know and I don't know if you ever saw the old show Little House on the Prairie, but I remember, you know the doctor coming to the family and you probably have no idea what that is, but I'm showing my age to you but literally going to do a house call or into the community and really sharing your expertise and again, meeting people where they're at, and and it's true, I love that you said you might not be a hospice nurse or you know you. Just you really do find out where you fit in that community and everybody does have a role. So I love that you've asked a lot of questions to find out where you fit properly. Yeah, I think I see big things for you coming up in the future. So what? What are some of the jobs specifically? So when you say field nurse, is that a big title? And then there are our jobs underneath that.

0:12:35 - Pedro Aguilar

Yes, because, like as I mentioned, field nurse is pretty much just a nurse that's going out into the community. And as far as, what specialty do you decide to go into? Well, you could be a home health nurse, you could be, as I mentioned, hospice, palliative care nurse, you can be strictly intravenous nurse, IV nurse. There's just a- different amounts of jobs that you can- titles out there that you can, you know, pursue. In addition to that and this is what I've been exposed to, in addition to that, there's cosmetic nurses, nurse educators, telehealth nurses, nurse case managers, nurse case administrators, legal consultants, flight nurses. You can go into the military, you can become a nurse. You can be into correctional nurse, school nurse, public health nurse. I mean, the list is just, it's huge. As far as not doing best side, there is just a long list. I can go on for days. As far as the jobs and the choices you can pick, but there is just a vast majority of them are just like- Whatever you like if you want to.

Even where I was doing a commercial for National University, I came across a lady who said we typically hire nurses when we're doing events, wrestling events. I think she mentioned a little bit about wrestling and I was like wrestling events. I'm like I love wrestling, I would just go just to watch wrestling, right, Because I love wrestling. But she was like, yeah, we hire nurses to come and do you know, do you know ice wrap? Or do some- Yeah, and you know, obviously it's cost effective for them as opposed to hiring more doctors and nurses, right? So you're against, you get exposed to this. So I'm like just thinking that you literally can type in one of your hobbies or passions and then look for nursing, and I guarantee you it's going to generate opportunities for you to explore.

0:14:37 - Kimberly King

I love that too, and you know, when you said I think you said flight nurses or travel nurses, it kind of reminded me of you, the boots on the ground though, but in a travel, you know, going into the community, and it's probably good too If you are bilingual wherever you're traveling to. But in those communities, so tell me, are there territories? You said inland empire, Los Angeles, does this, this, this apply everywhere?

0:15:03 - Pedro Aguilar

So there, there is no, there is territories, but it just depends on you like. That's part of why I chose to be a field RN. So I am an independent contractor, I contract with different companies, not just one single company. Because I know the balls on my court, because I know I run my schedule and I run my program how I wanted to be run, right. So I choose to service the Riverside County, San Bernardino County and LA County. Those are the three big counties and I choose to service them because I grew up in LA County.

I was currently living in Riverside County but I grew up half of my life in the San Bernardino County, so I'm familiar with, I'm okay with traveling in those counties. So you can pretty much decide hey, from my home I want a 30 mile radius and that's only just the cities or places that I need to. I want to service as far as where you want to go, you can choose to go anywhere. As you mentioned, it is a little bit of a travel nurse, because I do travel a lot and but I don't fly.

I stay in my car but, as I mentioned, I come across family nurse practitioners who fly once a week to do the same work, which is field nurse, but they fly out of state. Right, they fly out of state, they do field work. And then they come back to California. Right, I haven't gone that path yet. Perhaps I might try it, just to see what it feels like. But yeah, and again, everything is paid for by the company, who's obviously wants you to go work for them. So I choose to stay within those three counties, which are huge already.

0:16:43 - Kimberly King

I was just going to say you have a huge territory, but it's great because you said earlier about giving back. It's the community you grew up in and you know. You know what's going on there. You have a good foothold of what's happening. So, and I like that. It also said look for your passions. If you really like wrestling or football, you know, I mean there you could be on the sidelines and being there to help and getting paid for it, for doing something that you love, um, so tell me what your job is, kind of expand on those responsibilities. You've talked a little bit about that, but when you go into work each day, what, what could that look like?

0:17:20 - Pedro Aguilar

So the main, the main thing that I that I kind of I'll walk you a little bit through what I do is, um, so the main responsibilities for me is I get, um, a list of patients that I need to see. I just an example for tomorrow, right? So I have about seven patients and every patient comes with a discharge documentation and typically in the district documentation, the, the doctor has the orders right for wound care. Just giving an example, like he has a wound, so we're going to, uh, we're going to put on a wound care, I mean, a wound back. A wound back is pretty much a machine that's, you know, constantly sucking, providing a healing. And why they don't put it in the hospital, I have no idea. I, some, some of my patients come home and they're like I don't have anything, any supplies, I don't have anything. You know, typically I tell them I wish I can provide you with the supplies, but they don't have them here. I would be driving the UPS truck just to be able to have all the supplies for you guys, but anyways, they don't, they don't send them with the, uh, the supplies. So let me get there. And that's because everything has to be documented on paper, right. We cannot do any procedure or anything that's not. That's not in order from the doctor or the surgeon. So that's pretty much what I do.

But the minute that I walk in, additional from that is I'm constantly assessing. I'm assessing any fall risk, I'm looking at the floor. If the patient has and it happens a lot of where there's rugs or just loose things around I try to. If he has family, as part of the assessment, let them know. I need you guys to clear up this way, because patient has falls at high risk and you're almost assessing how the caregiver is reacting to me, asking them to do certain things, because that I can also be, especially depending on their age, can also be reportable, right, if I notice there's not enough food and they look malnourished, they look dehydrated, even though they've just been out of hospital for a couple of days, those are all red flags that I'm looking at. I'm looking at their age, I'm looking at do they have enough food? So I'm doing pretty much a whole home assessment to see if the patient is at risk.

There's been instances where I have to call and say do you know what? I need a social worker involved in this patient because I feel that he's at high risk here or I don't feel safe leaving the patient here because sometimes we have to see patients at hotels because, as I mentioned earlier, they're homeless, so they're in a temporary living facility or temporary hotel. So we have to say you know what? He has a cardiac condition. I don't feel comfortable him staying here by himself. He can't move that much.

So there's a lot of things that the minute that we walk in we start assessing- was the patient able to open the door for you? No, who opened the door for you? Was the door left open? Obviously you're also paying attention to the surrounding, the community where he lives. Is it a safe community? Is he at risk? So we do a lot of that and we're making sure the medication he's currently taking is also safe for him to take because, believe it or not, sometimes they're dozing, and when you're dozing for a medication that lowers your blood pressure and that's a big risk of him fainting and, furthering, hurting himself, the next thing you know he's at the ER because the RN that showed up to do an assessment didn't do it correctly.

So we have a big responsibility when we go there. We don't just go there and check vitals or look at the clean, the wound. No, we do a big assessment to make sure that the patient is going to thrive in the environment that he is.

0:21:00 - Kimberly King

So just another question about that. So if you're in the homeless community or unhoused community and you are working with these people, where does that information stay then? So if someone doesn't have family, are you working also with police departments and the hospitals so that they're aware if there's a patient that comes back?

0:21:23 - Pedro Aguilar

We are, but primarily we are reporting with the- So we have case managers in our team that we go back to and they pretty much report to. Either we request for a social worker to do an assessment and from there they carry on. So it's a collaboration. It's not just ourselves, but it's also the hospital and the insurance, because the insurance also has to make sure it comes down to a game of numbers, right?

0:21:49 - Kimberly King


0:21:49 - Pedro Aguilar

Is it going to cost me more to transport this patient after he faints and falls and now he has to go to the ER department because he bumped his head? Or is it going to be more cost effective and safer for us to send a RN to check on him once twice a week, right, and therefore get a social worker involved and, if it needs to, we need to get a caregiver in there to make sure the patient is in the crowd? So it's a team approach, it's not just you. You go do everything now. That would be too much for me.

0:22:24 - Kimberly King

Yeah, that is. That's a lot. I was just going to ask you the next question how do you balance work and school personal life?

0:22:33 - Pedro Aguilar

So the way I balance it is I personally tailor everything that I do when it comes to work. I know a lot of people say well, you need to have money in order for you to provide your family. Yes, I understand all that, but I personally, I became an independent contractor, so I choose only the days I want to work. If I have an event or something I have to attend for family, I ask for time. Hey, you know what, during this time, this time I'm not available. I'm willing to see patients afterwards. When it comes to scheduling, same thing. I let my patients know. Ma'am, sir, I'm going to be around your area from this time to this time. I will give you a call, a heads up, I give you a time frame that I'm going to be there, because I already know if I show up to my first patient and my first patient has a, I have to contact the social worker, I have to contact the case manager and I just have to do a lot of paperwork. It's going to take me longer than expected. So I know I'm not going to show up to the next scheduled appointment on time and patients will literally call you, Are you here yet? How far are you? How far are you, because they want to know, they're anxious to get the wound care that they need, or they're anxious for you to tell them you're going to be OK, everything looks good from my end. They need that piece of mind.

So I tend to control everything that happens. Try to control that, everything that happens. And I don't schedule as many appointments as I can during the day. I don't do that because it is stressful to you. It will take a toll on you, even though working as a field RN is not as stressful as I would assume, working in a hospital where it's a faster pace. You clock out at a certain time, you clock in at a certain time and you're constantly on the go.

It can become stressful if you are asking for a lot of patients in the sense that you're trying to schedule all the patients in a couple of hours and go on with their day. So I try to schedule everything, even when it comes down to the companies that I contract with. If I feel a company is trying to give me too many patients or asking for too much from me, I say hey, you know what, I'm not available. I control all those factors and I tend to just only work three to four days a week, no more than that, and that is because I need to make sure I have enough time for my family. I need to have time for my mental health to be able to do things that I love not things that I need to do, but just things that I love to do.

0:25:10 - Kimberly King

Good for you. And again, part of all of this is you said it your mental health, because you are a nurse, but it sounds like you're also a counselor or a therapist as you're dealing with. Sometimes maybe these people don't see people on a regular basis. You might be that person for them, so I'm sure that takes a bit of a toll on you as well, but you're doing.

0:25:32 - Pedro Aguilar

Absolutely. One of the biggest things is when you walk in a patient's house, as I mentioned, sometimes they don't really care about what you're gonna provide in terms of services. Sometimes they just need that that person to tell them you're gonna be okay, or sometimes just a spark of motivation. You know, I come across patients who are sick or who are, you know, just got out of surgery and they tell me, oh, I'm doing really bad, you know, and just give him a positive award or positive attitude, like you know, you're, you're, you're doing great, you're doing better than you did before, and just give him a little bit of positive praise and it goes a long way. You know they put a smile on her face oh, thank you, you know. Or, yeah, I'm gonna do better, I'm gonna watch what I eat, you know, because a lot of it has to do with Wobby, and I just let them know hey, just gotta eat better, you're gonna work out more.

You're still healthy, you're still young, you know, you still have at least 40 years, you know, and they're good. If I could just get a solid 10 and I'm like well, whatever you want, you just got to work for it, you know, and you know, sometimes you are only the last line of defense. Yeah, hospital did what they could. They put them, send them back home, where they get transported with an ambulance and put back in, or where a relative came and dropped them out back home. And it's really up to you, as you know, as the field, and to decide, hey, is this patient gonna be okay here or what can I do to help them? You know, because sometimes you are the only line of defense that they have.

0:27:06 - Kimberly King

Yeah, and I see that you take that seriously. I think you're doing God's work, I think you're an everyday hero and thank you for all of this great information. I really love what you're doing and we just need to take a quick break, but more in just a moment and don't go away. And now back to our interview with nurse Pedro Aguilar, and we're discussing jobs that are outside of the traditional nursing roles. Pedro, I've loved talking to you about this and I really think you're onto something here. I want to talk to you a little bit about how you maintain your own mental health, but before we go to that, I you know, appears to me also that you've been exposed, maybe in your own family, before you were in school, of you know really how to treat people with respect, which is obvious. But did you must have had an upbringing with parents or sisters or brothers that You've had other role models? It appears.

0:28:02 - Pedro Aguilar

Yes, absolutely. So I grew up with a single mother, so I definitely Single mother and it's total of seven of us right siblings, it's four women and three boys and absolutely I- from a young age my mother was a role model. So she always, always taught me how to be respectful towards everybody and you know I was always a great role model she was always out there for me, show me love, compassion and care and you know it's one of the things that I that I till this day, even in the documentary, I always praised my mother because what she did for me is what put me in this position for me to be as a psychiatric nurse practitioner, because if it wasn't for her, I absolutely know I wouldn't be where I am today. She gave me so much, and that's the reason why I am who I am. You know there's a great quote by Abraham Lincoln, who says everything I am wherever wish to be, I owe to my mother. That is exactly how I feel about that.

0:29:13 - Kimberly King

You are gonna make me cry right now. I love that. And good, you're a good son, and it shows. And good, good job for your mom. How, so how do you maintain your mental health?

0:29:24 - Pedro Aguilar

So. So one of the most important things that we we have to remember because I'm sure you guys hear it all the time is when you tell somebody, Do you do this to work on yourself, or how do you take care of mental health, they always say, and I quote, I don't have time, right. So the biggest thing we have to remember that is we all have the same time. We need 24 hours. So there's no such thing as making time, right? You allocate time, is what you need to do.

So you need to start changing your vocabulary and say I'm gonna allocate one hour, two hours of things that I love to do, not that I need to do, because we all need to do a lot of things. So what I always engraved in my head is I need at least one hour every day for me to be in good health and for me to do something that I love and I know that will balance out my mental health, because after a good run or after a good gym session, you feel better, you walk better, you in, pop your chest up a little bit more and you're like ah, that pump make me feel good, right. So for me personally, I love to go to the gym.

I love to train- Brazilian jiu-jitsu and I know that, that I need it because that is the best, best thing that I know that works on my mental health and constantly be able to check in with yourself. Hey, I feel anxious today. Hey, I'm biting my finger nails because of the anxiety. Hey, I notice I'm getting a heart palpitations. Hey, I feel a little bit tired. So you have to be constantly be checking in with yourself. You know nobody is gonna say, hey, I notice you're more irritable today, there's something going on. No, you have to be able to ask those questions to yourself and you have to be honest with yourself. As an example, using I statements I feel tired today and realize why is it that you feel tired? You're not sleeping enough? You're not eating healthy snacks or what is it that's, you know, holding your back? If you're able to get a hold of that when it comes to your mental health, it'll just sharpen you even more.

0:31:25 - Kimberly King

I love it too. Again, your physical health really does. You know it affects our mental health, but you're like a coach too. So, yeah, this is amazing. I like that you have your eye statements and we hold ourselves accountable. How has your experience- How has your experience changed your outlook of traditional nursing jobs?

0:31:46 - Pedro Aguilar

You know what, the biggest thing that I, when people ask me what should I do? Because of the exposure that I have now, and given that I have my own company and I'm an independent contractor, you know, I kind of just ask people the same questions, kind of that we went through right - what do you, what is your ultimate goal? And most of the people tell me I don't know. Right. So when I tell them I don't know whether, when they asked for me I don't know, I tell them, well, if you don't know, then then you know there's not much I can do besides tell you, find something that you're passionate about in the field of nursing and go for it, because it's kind of difficult for me to try to help you.

For me I can never work at a hospital because I know the flexibility, the money and, more than that, the impact that I'm making in my community being as a field RN. You know that is the biggest- for me, the biggest reward. So it just it completely changed my view on nursing and you know just, I can never go back because I have seen what it is to be independent, what it is to be your own, pretty much your own boss, even though I have to report to my supervisor.

But I already have seen this side of nursing and, as you guys are aware, when the pandemic hit, it exposed a lot of Things that nurses don't like about the system and the system being that you have to work a certain amount mandatory hours, you have to clock out, you have to clock in, you have to do a lot of Training and a lot of things that perhaps you don't want to do or that you can't do because of you know your personal life. So I think that's the biggest thing. So I think you know. For me it just when this happened. It just highlighted what I'm doing and the path that I'm taking and, as of today, I don't not plan even once I get certified as a Psychiatric nurse practitioner, it's gonna be difficult to me if I want to work at a hospital or a traditional Position. It's definitely gonna affect me.

0:34:09 - Kimberly King

I'm going to have you answer that. It sounds like the community needs you just as much as you need the community. You know it's a definitely level playing field. And I think my next question is if you had any regrets of the decision of starting your own non-traditional job outside of the grad programs offered. And to me, I hear you loud and clear, but I'm going to have you answer that. Do you have any regrets of your decision

0:34:33 - Pedro Aguilar

The only regret that I do have, is not listening to my friend Tony. Sooner, I think, after I got my R&D license, I started looking for jobs inside other hospitals. I think that's the only regret that I can say I have, and take a little bit longer to start my own company. Other than that, I have zero regrets at all on the decision that I took.

0:35:06 - Kimberly King

And then you know you mentioned it earlier about your balance with work and school and family, and it is so true, I think. When I was growing up, you know, my dad was working, traveling and didn't necessarily realize how important it was to be with the family. I grew up with a single mom as well, and I- you know, we do need to balance, that. We need to put our families first and I'm proud of you for doing that. I hope that's the change you know in the new era. So I love what I'm hearing. Do you have advice for new graduates that are not sure what path to take?

0:35:45 - Pedro Aguilar

Yes, I think the biggest, my biggest advice that I can give them is you know, don't just look at what you were exposed to in the sense of during nursing school, don't just look at the traditional hospital jobs. There's many opportunities out there that are open for you guys. When it comes to people that have kids, there's a lot of flexibility. I personally know a lot of LVNs that also work as field RNs, who have kids, who are single mothers as well, who have that flexibility and are actually pursuing their RN degree right now because they have that flexibility. So, as if you are willing to do something similar to that, go look at jobs that are out in the community. There's many jobs, there's many opportunities. If you need that flexibility, if you want to continue your education, this is the job for you.

As far as what? The downfall of that? There's a lot of traveling, there's a lot of driving, but, more importantly, find your passion. I personally don't think I would be doing the field RN if I didn't want to give back to my community, if I didn't want to serve my community, because I make it sound nice when I explain to you that I love the flexibility, I love the money. There's also a downfall of being in the field we're talking about. You're in all conditions, whether rain, rain, windy. You're going to be exposed to all those elements of mother nature. You're going to come across people that are not as welcoming when you go to their houses. You're kind of like the mailman, because you have to be careful, there's dogs sometimes.

0:37:31 - Kimberly King

Oh right, I didn't think about that-

0:37:37 - Pedro Aguilar

Dogs being loose. There's a lot of, I guess, the negative parts of being independent, because you are pretty much held accountable for everything you do, whether it's having the right supplies and reporting, scheduling. Even though you are independent, you are responsible for all that. If that's something that you don't want, there's always traditional jobs and roles where you just show up, you do your 9-5 and you go home. But all that is really not important is whatever works for you, whatever works for your family, whatever works for your health, whether it's your mental health or your physical health. You don't have to drive a lot. That's where you want to take it.

But personally, I love what I do because of my passion and in terms of what I would recommend is, just follow the passion in the area of nursing, if you like something that you were exposed to during nursing school, follow that. You're going to get a lot of opinions. You're going to get a lot of opinions. One of the opinions I remember when I told people I'm going to go for a psychiatric nurse practitioner. They said, oh, you should at least work at a hospital for a couple of years before you do that.

You need to know if you love it or not. You need to be exposed to other things, and I do agree with that. However, that would have held me back a long time because you get comfortable with the money that you make. So if you want to pursue a higher level of education, do not listen to the people that say, no wait, take a little bit longer. You know, spend a couple of years. I guarantee you will not go back to school. So just keep moving forward and find that passion. The job is secondary to your passion.

0:39:23 - Kimberly King

Great advice, wow, I love it. I love that. Also, you are talking about this on this podcast so other people can hear. I'm going to share it with everybody I know so good. I think you're a great role model. Is this job rewarding and fulfilling? You've answered this so many times, but how can we answer it in a sound-bite way? Because, again, you're passionately doing it.

0:39:50 - Pedro Aguilar

I'm going to give you a little bit of a story. A little bit of a story that why I feel it's rewarding and passionate. As I mentioned to you guys, I grew up in LA, in the east side of LA, to be specific, and in the same streets that I grew up, I have patients who I service. One of them I came across and I had a small conversation and just built a new report hey, how are you doing? I grew up out here, how has it been? And he told me it hasn't been great they- My grandson, you know I'm not going to give you the name, but my grandson, you know, was killed out here and he gave me his name. And I was like who? Because I knew that person. I remember growing up with him, going to the same school, playing basketball with him, and to hear that it just broke my heart and I couldn't believe it. So I googled his name. I googled his name and, sure enough, it showed exactly the location where he was murdered. And now I'm here helping his grandfather get better after a procedure and, even though he's not longer with us, it brought joy to me because this was an old friend, a childhood friend, and now I am helping his family recover from this illness. So there is that joy that you get from giving back to the community in the same environment you grew up with.

I'm out there working with all types of ages, groups, ethnicities, and I can only tell you that every time I come across people that want to become better, they ask me how long did it take you? What did you go what school? And you become more than just a nurse. And even my brother would always tell me, the minute you walk in, people are constantly- just like you're, assessing them, they're assessing you. You see little kids looking up to you and asking you- I myself drive an electric vehicle. And they're like, hey, how did you get that vehicle? And I tell them go to school, become a nurse, and you have plenty of money to buy a couple of those. And so it's more than just a job.

It's absolutely rewarding Just knowing that I'm going back to the same environment that I grew up in. Now I'm taking care of their grandmas and now I'm taking care of their grandpas or their dads. I'm helping them, trying to heal them, trying to help them out. It feels good, it absolutely brings joy to me, and once you are done with the patient and you are going to discharge them from your care. I always finish by saying thank you for allowing me to serve you, because at one point they did something to help us, whether it was a construction worker, paving the road or anything that has to do with our community. At one point they worked in the same community that I grew up with.

So the least that I can do is give back, and that is in the form of giving my advice and nursing in my profession. So I take that as a self rewarding for me. They don't have to tell me, but they constantly, after you're done, they say mijo, thank you so much. So, actually, thank you for helping me and for giving me that motivation to continue in life, and that, to me, is the biggest reward you can get, aside from money. That is the biggest reward that you can get. That's the pat on the back that I'm like yes, I love it.

0:43:47 - Kimberly King

Amen. Oh my gosh, you are a blessing, and to so many others what you are doing, because you realize that it is also a blessing to you and I just wow, you really have. If you ever need a publicist, I would love to walk along beside you when you write your book or start your movie.

0:44:07 - Pedro Aguilar

I would love to one day write a book. I mean, I don't talk so much because specifically talking about bedside jobs, but I had a rough childhood, so I would love to one day publish my own book, absolutely.

0:44:22 - Kimberly King

All right. Well, we'll talk, because I think your knowledge and it's true. I just want to say that, Pedro, really everybody has a story and when you have time and compassion and respect for others to sit and listen to them, you are healing. You are really healing and it shows so congratulations to you for doing such great work out there and for sharing all of your knowledge. Thank you, if you want more information, you can visit National University's website at, and again, thank you so much for your time today.

0:44:57 - Pedro Aguilar

Thank you guys for having me, Mike and Kimberly for allowing me to share my passion and information for the next generation of nurses.

0:45:05 - Kimberly King

Awesome. Thank you. You've been listening to the National University podcast. For updates on future or past guests, visit us at You can also follow us on social media. Thanks for listening.

Show Quotables

"In addition to [field nursing], there's cosmetic nurses, nurse educators, telehealth nurses, nurse case managers, nurse case administrators, legal consultants, flight nurses. You can go into the military... The list is just huge." - Pedro Aguilar, Click to Tweet
"When you walk in a patient's house... sometimes they don't really care about what you're gonna provide in terms of services. Sometimes they just need that person to tell them 'You're gonna be okay.'" - Pedro Aguilar, Click to Tweet