What is your current position? At this time, I am nearing the end of my third semester on the part-time track of Nursing@USC. I am also currently employed with MemorialCare Medical Group, a division of a leading nonprofit health system serving patients in the Orange County and Los Angeles County areas. As a registered nurse (RN) supervisor, I oversee the nursing, laboratory and radiology staff in our multispecialty office in Aliso Viejo and the cardiothoracic surgery office in Laguna Hills. Over the past 2½ years since I have been with this company, I have had numerous opportunities to practice evidence-based medicine, leverage technology to enhance patient health care outcomes, utilize lean practices to increase productivity while ensuring cost savings and to grow as a leader of the health care team while developing roles and enforcing policies and procedures.
Where are you from? I grew up in the Inland Empire region of Southern California, where I initially began practicing as an RN in a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) after earning my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). I moved to Orange County, California, when I was offered an employment opportunity with MemorialCare Medical Group, because it allowed for greater personal growth and development in my RN role and responsibilities.
Tell us about yourself. My name is Michael Yeboah. I graduated with my BSN from West Coast University in January of 2013. For the past five years, I have worked in the ambulatory care setting at both an FQHC and a nonprofit medical group. Working in an ambulatory setting as an RN was not what I had initially expected as my first nursing experience out of nursing school. However, the longer I stayed, the more I came to love the work and feel very much at home engaging and sustaining connections with my patients and their families.
I like to think I am a Southern California boy at heart with extensive family roots abroad. I am the eldest son of Ghanaian immigrants, both of whom are nurses themselves and are part of my inspiration as to why I became a nurse. My two younger brothers are currently in college studying physical therapy and computer science. When I am not occupied with work or school, I like to keep busy in a variety of ways. I enjoy watching excessively dramatic and often inaccurate medical dramas or science fiction/fantasy television shows and movies. I venture out for fun activities such as eating out at different restaurants, visiting new places, hanging out with friends and exercising. On a more intellectual and artistic point, I like to read various paperback books and draw African portraiture.
Why did you decide to earn your Master of Science in Nursing? I chose to earn my Master of Science in Nursing for two reasons. The first reason stems from my experience working in a primary health care setting, where I established myself as a trusted resource in the lives of my patients and their families by educating them on their new diagnoses, recommending resources for home care, providing counseling and consoling them when needed. Because I saw my patients much more regularly than I would have in a hospital setting, I noticed the long-term progress my patients made toward their health goals. I found it so rewarding to know that the connections I forged and nursing interventions I employed were having a lasting impact in the lives of my patients. With this realization came the knowledge that I could make an even greater impact in the lives of my patients and the community by becoming a family nurse practitioner (FNP).
The second reason coincides with health care reforms increasing the number of insured patients, who have subsequently been making increased use of the primary health care system. Because of this reform, there is an urgent need for more primary care providers to address the growing demand. FNPs have become additional points of access for these patients. They can provide comprehensive preventive health care services and manage acute and chronic illnesses. It is my hope that by becoming an FNP, I can become that access point for their health care needs and be able to guide them in their health care journeys and wellness. I feel this goal would best be accomplished by working in a community or rural health clinic where I would have increased exposure to patients who are new or infrequent users of the primary care health system. It also offers the opportunity to manage multiple comorbidities, some of which have yet to be diagnosed or treated due to the lack of primary health care they received thus far.
Why did you decide to pursue your degree with Nursing@USC? Nursing@USC’s focus on social work, its flexibility and the high quality of faculty are reasons why I believe it is the best fit for me to achieve my goal of becoming an FNP. The school’s additional concentration on the social work aspect of health care dovetails neatly with my approach to treating my patients holistically by understanding the wide array of factors that contribute to their health outcomes. I find the online program offering as well as the part-time plan of study very attractive. The fact that I can continue to do the work that I love and still be able to learn and apply new concepts to my practice is appealing to me. Equally impressive to me is the program’s reliance on experts to lecture throughout the course; certainly, this would serve to deepen my knowledge that I can fully incorporate into my practice.
Do you attend Nursing@USC part time or full time? I attend Nursing@USC on a part-time basis.
What excites you most about the program? What excites me most about the program is the vast learning opportunities that are available to students. I have enjoyed improving my physical assessment skills, gaining a deeper understanding of various medical conditions, learning the best ways in which to manage those conditions in partnership with my patients and gaining resources to address social determinants of health care. The expert faculty members are leaders in their many disciplines who share their real-world experiences to aid us in our pursuits of becoming FNPs who provide high-quality health care.
Is there a course you have particularly enjoyed? If so, why? The course I particularly enjoyed was our NURS 503: Theory: Clinical Management of Adult Patients. This was the first course where we began to synthesize all of the information learned from the Bridge Course, Advanced Pathophysiology, Advanced Health Assessment and Advanced Pharmacology courses into a coherent, patient-centered visit. Being able to visualize this process in action made my goal of becoming a nurse practitioner, in a sense, seem more real. Another aspect I enjoyed from this course was Dr. Granger’s Open Labs. She provided useful insights regarding the diagnosis and management of “Can’t Afford to Miss Diagnoses” which I have found very helpful in my clinical rotation so far.
In your opinion what is the best thing about earning your MSN online with USC? The best thing about earning my MSN online with USC is the availability of a part-time track. I love my current job and lifestyle, so it was disheartening to see that so many of the available programs required full-time participation or multiple campus visits per term. Either of these would have placed my job in jeopardy or necessitated making some serious life modifications. The fact that I can continue to live my life, to do the work that I am fond of and still be able to learn and apply new concepts to my practice is very appealing to me.
Tell us about your on-campus intensive (OCI) experiences. The OCI was such an interesting and fun experience! This was the first time many of my fellow students had seen each other or our professors outside of our webcam profiles. Several of us joked that we seemed so much taller in person! Besides getting to engage in person with our fellow students, the professors provided numerous educational activities throughout the three-day intensive. We honed our physical assessment skills in various workshops, interacted with medical actors during genitourinary rotations, practiced motivational interviewing, conducted problem-focused visits and completed physical exams. In my opinion, the White Coat Ceremony was the crowning piece of the weekend. It signified the level of competency we had achieved as well as the trust our professors and USC had that we were ready to represent our program in our first clinical rotations. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for our second OCI!
Is there a particular professor or faculty member that you have especially enjoyed working with? I would have to say that Dr. Raffaella Ghittoni, who taught my section of the Bridge Course, is one of my favorite professors to date. She had a great sense of humor. By the end of the term, we had a masterful understanding of the online platform and course material that many of us felt so well prepared to succeed in Advanced Pathophysiology. Her class was honestly a great way to start the program and left a very positive impression of what to expect in future classes.
Tell us about your clinical placement experience thus far. I have had an amazing clinical placement experience so far. It is such a relief USC has a clinical placement team that is proactively securing clinical sites for us. This makes it a much less stressful transition as we balance our many obligations, from completing coursework to providing patient care at our sites.
I am currently nearing the end of my Adult Wellness rotation at the Hurtt Family Health Clinic under the preceptorship of their medical director, Dr. David House. He is a great doctor, not to be confused with the Dr. House from the House television series! He comes with a wealth of experience that he willingly shares with those he mentors. I have taken to jotting down all of his advice and teachings in a leather notebook that I continuously reflect upon and plan to keep as a memento of this clinical experience. We routinely manage patients with multiple comorbidities and address issues of social determinants health, such as homelessness, substance abuse, incarceration, interpersonal relationships and immigration. As I have progressed through my days of clinical, I am amazed at how much knowledge I can apply from my theoretical courses and how much more confident I have become in the assessment and management of adult patients.
After graduation, what is next for you? I have a passion to work as an FNP with my current employer at MemorialCare Medical Group. They have some exciting practice transformations in progress that I would be very interested to be part of to improve patients’ satisfaction with their health care and health outcomes. Alternatively, I would also be eager to work again in a community or rural health clinic where I would have increased exposure to patients who are new or infrequent users of the primary care health system. This also offers the opportunity to manage multiple comorbidities, some of which have yet to be diagnosed or treated due to the lack of primary health care they have received so far. I do have some thoughts of possibly returning to school to complete my Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. However, I would prefer to wait until I have several years of experience as an FNP before ultimately deciding.
What else should we know about you? I have a great sense of humor and enjoy participating in activities with others — whether it be related to work or outside of work. I am sensitive to others’ needs and trustworthy.