Being an “amazing nurse” fulfills a long held goal for Alexandria Jones-Patten. Although she’s only 30-years-old, her passion for the field started as a youngster and increased through high school, college and graduate studies.
Currently a nurse at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center in Orange County, Jones-Patten aims to make a difference by educating the African American community about the importance of health care.
“I feel it’s important to the Black community to have providers who look like them and can bridge the gap in barriers to accessing quality care in whatever way possible,” said Jones-Patten, who frequently appears at health fairs in South L.A. to share information about self-care and preventing medical conditions such as high blood pressure.
“I grew up extremely poor, and saw how much mistrust there was about the healthcare system and doctors, especially in the African American community. My family members used to take medication, and wouldn’t be educated on why,” she explained. “So, I want to invest in programs that help African Americans in L.A.”
Jones-Patten’s enthusiasm for nursing has not gone unnoticed. Earlier this year, she received the National Black Nurses Association’s “45 Under 40” award. She was also selected to outline the National Institute of Health “All of Us Research Initiative” to her colleagues in the Council of Black Nurses.
The NIH program is a partnership with NBNA to involve people, regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, or medical condition, in medical research to obtain insight on the variety of health conditions affecting those from all walks of life.
“The idea is to be as inclusive as possible,” said Jones-Patten. “The NBNA felt that the Council of Black Nurses would be a great chapter to spread the word about this research.”
Being involved in research projects is enjoyable to Jones-Patten, who counts among her memorable experiences the opportunity to be a co-investigator for a pilot study as a nursing school student.
“I discovered I wanted to conduct research in addition to obtaining a nurse practitioner license,” she said. “What better way to serve my local community than to be an expert on a medical condition and bring the latest research to the community as I’m discovering it?”
As Jones-Patten grows more knowledgeable about nursing, she acknowledged that many people have helped in her career. Some of her NBNA mentors that have provided invaluable guidance are Dr. Rebecca Harris-Smith, one of her nursing school instructors who Jones-Patten said is “very supportive of the newer generation of nurses coming onto the scene;” along with L.A. Chapter president Chad Ricks, who she noted, “I can call on him for pretty much anything and he provides advice or just an ear to listen.”
When it comes to her future in nursing, Jones-Patten credited NBNA national president, Dr. Eric Williams, for helping her “to really look down the road at my career and to start thinking about all that I can accomplish.”
Those accomplishments include adding to her education. She already holds a Master of Science in Nursing and a Master of Business Administration. Her next step is obtaining a Ph.D. in nursing and a nurse practitioner license.
“As a nurse practitioner, I would have more say in the patient’s plan of care. As a researcher, I can bring my knowledge on medical conditions I choose to study to my community and use those findings from my research to provide more adequate care to my patients,” said Jones-Patten.
“Nursing is a beautiful, challenging field to be in. I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”