Meet our next alumni spotlight, Amber Jones! Amber developed a love of nursing and caretaking at a young age. So many people in her life had health concerns. “I wanted to be able to help those people,” she stated. “And that’s what made me want to be a nurse.” As she progressed toward that goal, Amber took a CNA course. She recalled, “Every time I left after training, and even after clinicals, I was always exhausted, but I felt so good. Because I’d done something good.”
Amber had family members who had gone to BYU, and that, paired with her desire to be a runner for the university, led her to Provo. Her time running track and cross-country for BYU saw Amber competing worldwide from Europe to Mexico. She also competed in nationals with the university. However, her training schedule on top of a nursing education proved difficult. “I would be going on five hours of sleep, and then after I got home from my clinical, I’d do the workout that I missed. It was a grueling routine, but I wouldn’t change it.”
After leaving BYU, Amber and her husband moved to Wisconsin for four years, back to Utah for two years, then to North Carolina, where her husband could complete an MBA. They finally settled in Georgia, where Amber is content to stay for a long while.
As a NICU baby herself, Amber aspired to be a nurse in the NICU. But it was not as easy a goal as she had hoped. “It was a bad time to graduate. There weren’t a lot of jobs.” Her husband would graduate in just six months, making it impossible for Amber to commit to her capstone, which wanted her to stay for two years to complete her nurse residency. And when the young couple moved to Wisconsin, hospitals required that nurses graduate within six months of starting a Nursing Residential Program. Amber fell just outside this six-month window. But while Amber couldn’t find herself in a hospital right away, she found work in a nursing home. Later, she made her way into a nursing position at Meriter Hospital in the child and adolescent psych unit. “It ended up being an excellent experience because it gave me a better appreciation for the psych field and was a nice place to work,” she recalled, adding, “It gave me a lot of practical experience for parenting.”
Eventually, Amber left the workforce with her husband’s work schedule and a growing number of children. She continues taking the education required to maintain her license to return to her nursing career. In the meantime, Amber’s skills developed through BYU and her nursing experience have proved invaluable as a parent. “I learned how to reason through things with kids,” she explained. “I learned how to brainstorm with kids and help them come to the answer without giving it to them outright.” Even her title of “nurse” has strengthened Amber’s rapport with her five children. Whenever they get a sliver or other mild injury, they know they can go to her for help. Amber also explained that her knowledge of mental health has been applicable in the home. “I have a daughter with anxiety, so I use some coping skills I know to help her.”
Another skill that has carried over from her time as a nurse is the ability to advocate for herself and her children in the doctor’s office. “I had a C-section for my first kid,” she explained. “I was pretty discouraged when the doctor told me that it wasn’t worth trying to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). He said it was like sending my toddler out in the middle of the freeway. He said it’s not worth it and that it’s too risky.” But Amber spoke up for herself and decided to get another doctor’s opinion. As a result, she was able to have four children via VBAC.
Amber’s journey as both a mother and a nurse has given her special insight. As advice for current nursing students, she said, “Just keep pushing through. Anything that’s worth it in life is difficult. Nursing is hard, but you’ll look back and have many good memories.” Over the years, Amber has had the opportunity to reconnect with old classmates and develop meaningful friendships. Amber shared that maintaining connections is vital for nursing students.
Although an estimated “99%” of Amber’s time is spent being a mom, she also enjoys learning new things. “I’ve dabbled in woodworking and sewing and gardening and cooking, just things that I hadn’t ever given myself time to do before,” she explained. “When I first got married, my husband and I found out that my friend had built a bed. And I thought, ‘I want to make a bed.’” Her husband’s reservations about the project–mainly that she didn’t even know how to use a saw and was also seven months pregnant at the time–were quelled when the bed was completed. Amber added with a laugh, “After that, my husband was like, ‘I think we’re gonna build all our furniture.’”
When asked what the Healer’s art means to her, Amber said, “Every time I sing the hymn ‘Lord, I Would Follow Thee,’ I always remember nursing school, and I feel appreciation not only for Christ, but for the opportunity that I had to go to nursing school and to learn the Healer’s art, and try to become like Christ. The work that we do as nurses, even though it’s grueling and underappreciated, is a service that people can’t do for themselves, and it brings you so much joy. Not just happiness, but the knowledge that you can help others and serve people as Christ would serve them. And they may not remember you or your name or anything about you, except that you were there for them in their time of need.”