The Hispanic and Latino population continues to grow, as do the health care disparities these communities face. Hispanic Heritage Month is a reminder of the importance of a diverse nursing workforce that understands these health care challenges and is uniquely positioned to help address them.
This is why an old Veronica Sampayo ’13 established the Clinician Life Scholarship in support of Hispanic Nurse Practitioners at the UCF College of Nursing. “The scholarship I received was invaluable, and I am thrilled to be able to pass it on to help facilitate the journey of other Hispanic nurses who seek to advance their careers and become the leaders our patients need. »
Break down language barriers
Sampayo’s parents are Colombian and she was born in Orlando. In her clinical practice as a nurse practitioner, she was often asked to speak to Hispanic patients.
Once, says Sampayo, a patient made an observation:You don’t like speaking Spanish, do you?(“You don’t like speaking Spanish, do you?”). While Sampayo grew up understanding Spanish, she was not fluent and admitted that she disliked speaking Spanish only because she was unsure of her language skills.
The man told her, in Spanish, that he would only speak to her in Spanish. Sampayo realized that making the effort was more important than having the right words, and she quickly became proficient.
This effort is making a difference. According to the Pew Research Center, 44% of Hispanic Americans cite communication problems due to language or cultural differences as the main reason why Hispanics generally have poorer health outcomes than other adults in the United States. United.
Increase supplier diversity
Language and cultural barriers are just one of the factors affecting the health of the Hispanic population. They face less access to quality care, less access to preventive care, lack of health insurance, as well as social and environmental factors. Nurse practitioners, especially Hispanic nurse practitioners, can help address these challenges.
The idea of becoming a nurse practitioner has always been part of Sampayo’s nursing career plans, she says, because she liked the idea of having more autonomy when it came to caring for her. his patients.
“As nurse practitioners continue to expand access to high-quality health care across the country, I want to do my part to support diversity in health care and support the future of nursing in my community.”
According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, nurse practitioners are more likely to provide care where it is needed, such as in rural and underserved communities. A recent study showed that 25% of nurse practitioners dealt with limited competence in English patients.
But across the United States, and particularly in Florida, the growth of Hispanic nurses and nurse practitioners has not kept pace with the growth of Hispanic and Latino communities. In the United States, these communities represent 18% of the population and 25% of the population in Florida. According to the most recent data, an estimated 9.2% of nurse practitioners are Hispanic in the United States. In Florida, 15% of nurse practitioners are Hispanic.
“As nurse practitioners continue to expand access to high-quality health care across the country, I want to do my part to support diversity in health care and support the future of nursing in my community,” says Sampayo.
A Career in Nursing Inspired by Family
A career in nursing was not in the initial plans of Sampayo, who initially majored in business. When her husband – a military veteran – was diagnosed with cancer, the couple moved from Kentucky to Tampa, Florida to be closer to their parents and receive his treatment at a VA hospital.
“I met some amazing nurses there,” says Sampayo. “A nurse practitioner was particularly helpful and suggested that because my husband was so young, it might be a good idea to stock up for any future children we wanted through cryobanking. It wasn’t usually covered by the army, but she pleaded all the way to the general to have it covered.
Sampayo and her husband, Elijah Rivera, who has fully recovered from cancer, now have two beautiful daughters, Arielle and Madelynn.
“I can’t thank this nurse practitioner enough for taking care of Elijah, me and our family,” says Sampayo. “At that point, I started to feel that nursing was my calling and I wanted to be that hero for someone.”
Sampayo returned to school to become a nurse, first earning an Associate Degree in Nursing (ASN) in Valencia and a few years later earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) at UCF as part of of the RN to BSN online program. After graduation, she began her career as an oncology nurse. But after a few years — and the birth of their first child — her husband suggested she go back to school to become a nurse practitioner.
“He was always the most encouraging person, especially when it came to my career,” says Sampayo.
“We managed to make it work,” Sampayo says, shaking his head and smiling at the memory of those difficult years. Because finances were a concern, she researched the possibility of financial aid for her DNP degree and in her final semester, she was awarded a scholarship.
After a few years of clinical practice, she landed a managerial position in a large hospital system that had begun to restructure its advanced practice provider program. But when Rivera’s mother died suddenly, she moved into private practice to focus more on her family and her future career plans.
Helping nurses reach their potential
“It’s important to me that nurses have the opportunity to reach their full potential and practice to the fullest of their license and training,” she says. “I started developing a business that could help nurses and nurse practitioners chart their own path in healthcare. »
“It is important to me that nurses have the opportunity to reach their full potential and practice to the fullest of their license and training. »
It started by offering resume services. As a manager, she noticed that there were big differences in the quality of resumes she received and wanted to help level the playing field. Sampayo grew her business to such an extent that it is now her working full-time, and can now be more than a mentor for nurse practitioners, but also help financially future nurse practitioners at UCF with a scholarship.
“It’s always been our goal, from that first experience with the nurse practitioner at the VA, to meet all the amazing faculty and students, and then to receive my own graduate scholarship,” she says. “We are very grateful for this opportunity and look forward to meeting our fellows.”
“Orlando is my forever home. I want to invest in building diversity in the same community where my family and I receive health care,” says Sampayo. “I also want to invest in the community where I work in as a clinician. That’s why I joined the UCF Alumni College of Nursing Chapter Board of Directors as Co-Chair of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – because I want to contribute to bring and support diversity within our community.
If you are interested in contributing to the Clinician Life Scholarship in Support of Hispanic Nurse Practitioners or other nursing scholarships at UCF College of Nursing, please click here.