Ellen Luong has always been intrigued by the idea of becoming a doctor. But when the California native was in a snowboarding accident during her last semester of college at the University of California at Irvine—where she was a biology major—her experience being treated by a nurse practitioner sparked a new idea.
“The medical school route was so very competitive,” says Ellen. “The Nurse Practitioners I interacted with in the hospital seemed passionate about helping people and treating patients holistically. That is exactly what I wanted to do.”
Switching Gears to Nursing
Ellen was too far along to easily change majors, so she finished up her bachelor’s degree in biology in 2010 and decided to work her way toward nursing. She went to school to become an emergency medical technician (EMT) and started working for ambulance companies throughout southern California as a dispatcher and an EMT.
A year into working as an EMT, Ellen also enrolled at her local community college to complete the prerequisites for nursing school. “By then, I knew that I really liked what I was doing, so once I got the prerequisites done, I started the BSN program at West Coast University,” she says. After two and a half years of hard work, Ellen graduated in 2017.
Providence Mission Hospital
During nursing school, Ellen accepted a job as a patient care technician at Providence Mission Hospital—to get a foot in the door. Once she became a registered nurse, she joined the progressive care and stroke unit, specializing in stroke and neurological patients. In 2019, she became a charge nurse.
“As a biology major in college the first time, I’ve always been interested in neurology, so I love what I do,” Ellen says. “Every day is a new challenge and it is always interesting to learn about different advancements in treatment and technology.
Coming Full Circle to Pursue the Original Goal
Since she first decided to pursue nursing, Ellen has had in the back of her mind that she would become a Nurse Practitioner. “I became comfortable in my job and really liked what I was doing, but when a coworker decided to go back to school at American Sentinel College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Post University, it inspired me to go for it too,” she says.
In 2022, Ellen researched the Master of Science Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner Specialization degree and found that it checked all the boxes. “Online learning works with my life and schedule and I felt very welcome from the very first phone call to Post,” she says. By summer, Ellen was enrolled in her first class. She is targeting a fall 2024 completion date.
Goals for the Future
Ellen isn’t totally set on a specific plan once she finishes her degree, but looks forward to clinicals to open her mind to new ideas. “I feel like I could work in a clinic or pediatrics or something else entirely,” she says. “I’m in love with where I work now, but I’m open to gaining new experience and continuing to learn new clinical areas. I’m excited to see what else is out there.”
Now six years into her nursing career, Ellen says she wouldn’t change a thing. “I am very happy how it all unfolded,” she says. “I went from working with patients who called 911 to helping them on the way to the hospital to now helping patients seeking treatment at the hospital. And as a Nurse Practitioner, I’ll get to treat those patients myself.”