By Robert A. Poarch
Grecia Baxter has been at Mission Health for almost five years. Thanks to some financial assistance from Mission Health and HCA Healthcare, she is on her way to making her dreams of becoming a nurse a reality.
A Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, Baxter is a first-generation immigrant from Mexico. That’s where she began thinking about entering the medical profession. “My aunt in Mexico is a doctor,” she said. “When she was a resident she would take me with her. She inspired me. Coming here to the US, the opportunity wasn’t there for me. And, it was a huge amount of money just to go to community college.”
Baxter worked in the emergency department at Mission Hospital as both a certified nursing assistant and a financial counselor for patients. Her ED experiences confirmed her desire to pursue a career in nursing.
“I did CPR and I held a heart in someone’s body. Just the fact that you can save someone’s literal life in the ED, it’s just such an amazing out-of-body experience,” Baxter said. “I love every single minute of it. I want to do that for the rest of my life.”
Luckily, a co-worker told Baxter about this opportunity that Mission was offering. “So, then I reached out to HR. They did their research, and they came back to me and they sponsored me so that I could go to school,” Baxter said.
Because Baxter is a DACA recipient, when it comes to school tuition, she is considered an out-of-state student, which means that she has to pay a lot more money for her nursing classes than an in-state student. “So, for three classes it would be around $2,000. If Mission sponsors me, I would be able to pay in-state tuition and it would be less money. Luckily, Mission was able to sponsor me for my schooling,” Baxter said.
“Nurses can go back and get their bachelor’s degrees for nothing out of pocket through the HCA Healthcare tuition reimbursement program. It’s so amazing. No other healthcare system is doing that much tuition reimbursement,” said Linda Anderson, MSN, RN, NE-BC, Residency Coordinator in the Center for Clinical Advancement at Mission Health.
“RN to BSN students can eliminate that barrier to going back to school right off the bat. I can show them how they can do it without paying a dime out of pocket,” said Anderson. “We’ve got a good setup for education here.”
Baxter entered the nursing program at AB Tech in the 2020 fall semester. “This is the first time that I’m able to go to college. Right now, I’m taking the prerequisites for the nursing program,” she said. “This is pretty much a dream come true for me.”
“It’s effected my life completely. I didn’t think the opportunity was going to present itself, and it did,” Baxter said. “Being patient and staying with the company long term, showing up and doing what I need to do. I feel like good things come to those who wait. I believe in karma.”
Baxter credits Mission Health and HCA Healthcare for providing opportunities to their team members. “I felt like the door of continuing education was closed. Mission pretty much opened that door for me completely,” she said. “Going to school is going to make me smarter. It’s boosted my confidence and makes me feel like I can go further with my life. I don’t think any other company would have done that for me.”
Baxter loves the ED and wants to stay there. Her five-year goal is to get an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, then a master’s, and become a nurse practitioner. Baxter is also determined to give back to the community by traveling around the world.
“Healthcare is constantly changing. And, if we don’t as a professional stay abreast of the latest technology and look toward the future, we can’t take care of patients safely,” said Anderson. “The bottom line is safety and quality with the patient.”
“It’s helping me bring value to the company,” Baxter said. “One of the values of the service is that what I do now as part of my job and my education is a service to our community. And, it’s a part of our values at HCA Healthcare — which is pretty awesome.”
Grecia Baxter is a certified nursing assistant and a financial counselor for patients at Mission Hospital.
Linda Anderson, MSN, RN, NE-BC, is Residency Coordinator in the Center for Clinical Advancement at Mission Health.