Success Story: Victoria Sullivan

Victoria SullivanWhy did you choose your specific health professional career?

I wanted to be a nurse since I was a teenager. I had a short term goal of becoming a nurse as soon as I could, and a long term goal of becoming a registered nurse (RN). I had also planned to work on my reservation as a nurse after I gained some experience.

What experiences did you have to make sure this profession was right for you?

I knew I would always be a nurse from my early experiences in the nursing field. After I graduated from Practical Nurse school, I worked as a nurse at a large teaching hospital. I specialized in orthopedics and trauma. I loved it. Once I was in the nursing field I loved every aspect of it.

Describe any obstacles or barriers to success that you encountered along your health professional career path and how did you overcome them?

I encountered several obstacles along my health career path, which include the fact that my husband of 22 years died from a brain tumor (5 months out from diagnosis). At the same time, I had three teenagers I had to raise alone. Also, my mother became sick and started dialysis. She wanted me to move home to the reservation to help her and to raise my kids there. I found a job at the local Indian Health Service Clinic in Peach Springs as a licensed practical nurse (LPN). I didn’t make a lot of money, but I loved being home caring for my family and community. My mother kept after me to go back to school to become an RN so I could make more money. She helped me fill out all of the paperwork for tons of different scholarships and nursing programs. I was lucky enough to be awarded an awesome scholarship from the Indian Health Service (IHS) that let me focus on school. This meant that I would need to work only one day a week, I still got my full salary! I also got accepted into a nursing program at the local college.

What do you do in your current job?

I’m a staff nurse in an IHS clinic, where we see 50-60 patients a day.

What advice do you have for American Indian/Alaska Native students who are interested in health careers?

Health care is a great area to have a job. There are so many choices of fields to go into and specialties.
Once you receive your degree, you can work in many different capacities serving native people.