Joseline Gonzales grew up in Honduras knowing she’d someday pursue a career in health care — but she never imagined it would be as a nurse.
“In my home country, nurses are not as appreciated as they are in the United States,” she said. “Nursing never really came up as a career option at job fairs or during conversations about my future. I saw myself going into dentistry instead.”
After she graduated from high school in 2015, Gonzales moved to the U.S. to continue her education. At the time, her brother was stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base near Knob Noster, Missouri. She moved in with him and planned to enroll in the dental hygiene program at State Fair Community College in Sedalia.
“I was about to apply for the program, but when I visited the campus, I noticed how the nursing students were viewed differently than the other students,” she said. “They were considered to be some of the smartest people at the school, and they always walked through the hallways with a purpose and participated in community events.”
With a changed perception of nursing and the application deadline quickly approaching, she decided to instead enroll in the two-year nursing program and become a registered nurse.
“What I love about nursing in the States is that you can be so many things,” she said. “You’re not just in one little square of opportunities. There are endless possibilities after you get your degree.”
During her final semester of school, Gonzales started searching for nursing jobs across the state. She was intrigued by several opportunities at MU Health Care in Columbia.
“MU Health Care was definitely at the top of my list,” she said. “I wanted to work at a large hospital that could provide a diverse work experience and many opportunities for growth. Also, one of my friends was always posting on Facebook about how much she loved her job as an ER nurse at MU. I sent her a message, and she encouraged me to apply.”
Gonzales applied for three different nursing positions at MU Health Care and was offered all three jobs. In early 2020, she accepted a position at the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute because she enjoyed her experience working on orthopaedic units during college.
“I like how you get to work very closely with patients as they recover from surgeries,” she said. “You get them up and walking for the first time, and you play a big role in helping them improve. It’s so satisfying, and it fills my heart with joy to see patients leave feeling much better than when they arrived.”
Though she has only been with MU Health Care for a short amount of time, Gonzales has already formed strong bonds with her teammates. She feels supported by her supervisors and appreciates how they encourage her to learn and grow.
“MU Health Care provides so many opportunities for growth, and they support you in the process,” she said. “Our supervisors are always there to make sure we are doing OK. Because of COVID, I have been floated to many different units, and they have all been wonderful. Everyone treats each other with kindness, and you can always find help if you need it.”
Looking ahead, Gonzales plans to continue broadening her nursing skills and education. She wants to earn a bachelor’s degree and potentially become a nurse practitioner.
“MU Health Care is a great place to work, because it’s not just work,” she said. “The Missouri Orthopaedic Institute is my second home, and my unit is like a family. I can’t predict the future, but if it were up to me, I would retire at MU Health Care.”