Written by Vania Zuniga
Imagine doing nursing shift work… but from home, cuddling your pet! I didn’t think it was possible until I discovered virtual health care. Here’s a little about my nursing journey, and where I am now.
My name is Vania Zuniga and I became an RN in 2012. I attended UCLA for my BSN and always knew I wanted to get my masters. My mother passed away from leukemia during my time at UCLA. Around this same period, I was also diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I had two hospitalizations and the diagnosis was a BIG adjustment for me.
Nurse-Life After School
After I graduated, I began working at UCLA Ronald Reagan on the cardiac step-down unit that specializes in CABGs, Heart and Lung transplant. Feeling burned out from bedside nursing, I started to explore my options.
I love to travel and felt tempted to quit my job and become an English teacher in Thailand… but my husband (then boyfriend) said that was an INSANE idea, so I started to look at what other careers there were.
I transferred to the cardiac ICU thinking maybe one day I’d attend CRNA school. However, I learned that I liked when I could speak to my patients. I didn’t like to see them intubated. Also, the nursing culture on that floor was very much a “eat their young” mindset, and I felt like I didn’t fit in. I transferred back to cardiac step-down and applied to Family Nurse Practitioner school.
I was accepted into UCI in 2015 for their FNP program. Some good and bad things happened while I was in FNP school. Sadly, during this time my father passed away. I realized pretty quickly that I couldn’t balance work and school full-time, so I found a position working float pool. I loved it because of the schedule flexibility, with the only requirement being 4 shifts a month. Whenever I had breaks from school I was able to travel! When my husband and I got married, we were lucky enough to take a month-long honeymoon due to my flexible schedule.
After graduating FNP school in 2017, I worked at the VA hospital but the Monday to Friday 9-5 grind was exhausting. I also missed my dog too much! A coworker at the time connected me with a startup virtual care company. I was so happy to take this position, working four 10’s each week, AND I was home with my dog!
Traveling the World
Then came an amazing opportunity to travel the world… with my dog! I was casted for an Amazon Prime Video show called The Pack, where I competed with my dog and other dog/human duos. We traveled to so many countries: Mexico, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Austria, France. The list goes on! Unfortunately, the show came to an end due to the pandemic in 2020, and my startup job couldn’t hire me back. I had no job.
Luckily as a nurse, you can always something! Soon after my job-hunt began, I started working as a COVID tester. I stayed in this position for almost a year before finding another stable virtual health care job. Careers working from home as a nurse do exist, but they can be difficult to find. Keep looking if it’s something you’re interested in!
I now work 12 hour days, 15 shifts a month, and I love it. This allots for 15-16 days off most months to keep up with my non-nursing passions: travel, fitness, and content creation. It’s been a memorable journey over the past 10 years in the nursing field, and it’s only just the beginning!
I have two instagrams accounts. My dog’s is @jax_thegoldendog , which captures all his sweet and funny moments as a golden retriever. My personal account, @LoveAlways_Vania shows how bipolar disorder impacts my life and how I cope.
Edits by: Claire Lang, BSN, RN
One thought on “The Places You’ll Go”
Thank you for sharing. Luckily being a nurse, there are different options for work- beside, clinic, virtual, etc