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Graduate Finding New Path
in Non-Traditional Role
By Salwa Choucair
While traditional nursing roles continue to be in demand, today’s nursing students have a variety of work environments from which to choose when it comes to putting their skills and education to use.
Victoria M. Flores, who received her B.S.N. in 2013 from the School of Nursing, found her perfect match in a non-traditional nursing role with a biotech company in San Francisco. She works in the company’s environmental health and safety department as an occupational health nurse serving 20,000 employees.
“The community I serve now is my workplace,” says Flores, who received her M.S.N. from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) School of Nursing in 2016 and currently is enrolled in its doctoral program. “I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to focus on preventative health and to look at measures we can take to keep our employees healthy and happy. During my master’s program, I had the realization that as adults, we spend a large part of our lives at work, and that is where occupational health nurses have the opportunity to intervene and spread healthy habits.”
Flores is focusing her doctoral research on exploring correlations between physical activity and upper extremity injuries specific to computer workers or office dwellers.
“With the changing workplace and how technology drives the workplace, there are new approaches we need to take to keep people injury free and healthy at work.”
From the moment she switched her career path to nursing, Flores has learned to embrace stepping out of her comfort zone. After spending an internship with a cardiologist in San Antonio, she fell in love with health care and changed her undergraduate major from engineering to nursing. She followed that up with leaving her home state of Texas and her family in Devine, to attend UCSF. Although Flores was encouraged to experience a different educational system by Dean Eileen Breslin, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, of the School of Nursing, she admits that she was scared.
“Looking back, I didn’t fully understand what she meant when she gave me her advice, but now I appreciate seeing the world and health care through a different lens,” Flores says. “I think it’s important to be open to new experiences and to where nursing may take you. You don’t necessarily need to follow a traditional route; it is good to be open to the opportunities that may present themselves and use your nursing skills and nursing education.”
With so many options in health care on the horizon, taking the road less travelled for nurses such as Flores will just keep getting easier.