Fifteen Minutes with Haley Fernandez, BSN, RN

Haley Fernandez

Haley Fernandez, BSN, RN, is beginning her career at UI Hospitals and Clinics. She is a professional who has known what she wanted for her career, and she has pursued it with logic, reason, and great vigor. After graduating in May from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Haley established three criteria that needed to be met by her first professional position. She wanted to work at a teaching hospital that offered a residency program, that was Magnet certified, and was among the "Most Wired" hospitals in the U.S. Both Haley and UI Hospitals and Clinics agreed that starting her career here would be a great fit.

Tell us a little about yourself, Haley.
I was born and raised in northern California—just north of San Francisco, in wine country. I grew up in a medicine-oriented family; my mom is a physical therapist, my dad works in hospital finance, my grandma is a nurse, and my grandpa is a doctor. It was during my senior year in high school when I studied anatomy in advanced biology that I realized I also wanted to do something in health care. I decided on nursing.
Where did you receive your nursing education?
When I was looking for a nursing program, I knew I wanted to go to school outside California so I could have different experiences. I also wanted to find a program that was not compacted but was one where I could start learning about nursing as a freshman. I decided on the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. I added a minor in leadership studies, so that added another year toward my degree.
I understand that you also had specific criteria for choosing your first nursing job.
Yes, I did. My sophomore year in college, I spent a day shadowing a nurse mentor, and she told me she participated in a residency-type program her first year out of nursing school. She told me how great it was to have that support network. She also talked about the benefits of working at a teaching hospital and that, 30 years later, she is still in touch with many of the friends she made during that first year. That was when I decided I wanted to work at a teaching hospital with a residency program. The second thing that is very important to me is to work in a Magnet-certified hospital. And third, I wanted to work in a hospital that was identified as being “Most Wired.”
How did your search go?
I cross-referenced all the hospitals that met my three criteria, and then learned more about each hospital. I then narrowed my search to seven hospitals—they were scattered throughout the country, and most of them were in large cities, such as Denver, Seattle, and San Francisco.
We know that you decided to come to UI Hospitals and Clinics. How has your experience been?
I started my orientation on July 23, and I finished that in early October, which is very exciting. I’m trying to be patient during this learning process. I keep reminding myself that it’s OK to ask for me to ask questions. So, making the leap to being on my own and beginning my career as a nurse has been great.
Tell me a little bit about the residency experience?
We have about 40 in our group. In September, BJ (Hannon) spoke to us about diversity, especially regarding age and experience in the workplace, which has been very useful for us because we’re fresh out of college, the youngest ones on the floor. I believe that understanding where everyone is coming from and building trust in our unit teams is really important.
What do you appreciate about working in a Magnet-certified hospital?
I’d say there are two things about being a Magnet hospital that attracted me to UI Hospitals and Clinics. One of them is the environment that it creates for nurses. I think that having Magnet status shows the organization’s commitment to furthering the nursing profession and creating a great work environment for nurses. There’s a great sense of ownership and of community here. Every nurse tries to do the best that they can, and, to me, having the Magnet status looks at the bigger picture—at furthering the community of nursing and the commitment to higher practice, research, and work satisfaction. We understand the importance of those things not only for the nurses but also for the patients we serve.
Why was “Most Wired” among your criteria?
To me, “Most Wired” was another way to identify hospitals that are dedicated to technology and being progressive. I became interested in it after learning about CPOE, [computerized physician order entry], where everything is entered onto the computer instead of having a paper trail. With CPOE, having a paperless system is not only environmentally responsible, but I believe it increases employee satisfaction and patient safety. Multiple steps can be skipped without having to decipher a doctor's handwriting, which makes CPOE a much more efficient system that can result in quicker implementation of interventions for our patients.
On which unit do you work?
I’m on 2 RCW, which is GI as well as bariatric surgeries and transplants. I interviewed with two different units here, and this was my first choice.
Do you believe that coming here has been a good decision for you?
I think it’s been a really good decision for me. It’s been an interesting adventure. I sold everything I owned, except for what would fit into my car, and drove here. I’ve been starting from scratch—starting my life, my career. It’s been fun, but it’s also been a little challenging and scary. And the job part? I couldn’t be happier! I’m just so glad to be here. I'm very grateful that my dreams are already coming true—I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me. With all the continuing education opportunities and room for growth, I feel the sky is the limit!