Meet Valerie Fisher, MA, R.N.

"I am not sure where I would be today if I had not had the opportunity to start my life’s journey at a community college. This is where I pursued my dream of becoming a registered nurse."

Can you describe your role as Deputy Sector Navigator at Health Workforce Initiative at California Community Colleges? What about it keep you motivated and excited?

The role of a Deputy Sector Navigator (DSN) is complex and difficult to explain, but let me try. First it needs to be stated that I am a grantee of the California Community College’s Chancellor’s Office, Division of Workforce and Economic Development, and hosted at College of the Sequoias. My role as a DSN is a regional one serving the Central Mother Lode Region (Stockton to Bakersfield) which includes 14 regional community colleges.

My primary focus is to provide technical assistance to those community colleges in regards to nursing and allied health professions education and training. My secondary emphasis is to coordinate and collaborate effective health sector partnerships with industry employers, regional consortiums (like Adult Education Consortiums), high schools and K-12 districts, Regional Occupational Program (ROPs), Workforce Investment Board (WIBs) and other organizations who are interested in helping to secure a skilled health care workforce in support of the Central Valley’s economy.

What keeps me motivated? Well, at the heart of it all I truly believe in the overall mission of community colleges which is to serve all segment of society through open access to education no matter what stage in life you may find yourself in. I believe education is the key to self-empowerment and often a pathway out of poverty. I am not sure where I would be today if I had not had the opportunity to start my life’s journey at a community college. This is where I pursued my dream of becoming a registered nurse.

What do you think is unique about the Health Workforce Initiative? How is it helping to develop the region’s health care talent pipeline?

The Health Workforce Initiative is unique because it is the only statewide organization funded by the state that directly address the workforce needs of the health sector. By fostering communication and collaboration between the educational system and the health care industry we can address urgent workforce needs and then develop an appropriate response to those needs. We do this in a variety of ways:

  1. Leveraging resources among stakeholders in the private and public sector.
  2. Monitoring new and emerging health occupations - complete job analysis.
  3. Provide incumbent worker training for healthcare professionals.
  4. Provide technical assistance and curriculum for new program development.
  5. Offer a variety of professional educational workshops and conferences.

In response to the health care pipeline, we are active at several levels. Starting at middle schools to high school we offer: health occupations information and resources; collaboration with school administrations in developing health career pathway programs; supporting ROPs (new program development) and offering grant funding to assist in strengthening these programs for increased student success.

A few examples of projects sponsored in the region are:

  • First Responder Emergency Medical Course at Mendota High School in collaboration with West Hills College.
  • Developed a new program for Duncan Polytechnical High School, Medical Academy of Science and Health (MASH) for Occupational Therapy Aide.
  • “Growing Health Care Leaders” one day workshops for high school students to explore options in health professions in collaboration with Tulare Workforce Investment Board and other community partners.

Tell us a story about one of your first jobs and what you learned from it.

My first official job was working in a doctor’s office after school when in high school. I learned how to function in an office setting and also decided that office work was not for me! Soon the physician I worked for realized I had a great interest in learning more about the “back office” so he started to train me as a clinical medical assistant. And since I had always wanted to be of service and become a nurse, this was all very exciting and I loved working with all the patients. I knew from that point forward that I was going to reach my goal of becoming a registered nurse!

Did someone help open a door for you in your life? If so, tell us about them and what the relationship meant to you.

As stated in the previous question, I had a wonderful mentor (a physician) who gave me opportunities that most people did not have…. a start to discover what it was that I really enjoyed learning and doing. As a young physician just starting out in private practice, he could still relate to a young person discovering their passion. He saw my eagerness to learn and how much I valued the meaningful work. He also encouraged me to pursue my education as a registered nurse knowing that he would be losing a good employee. That was an act of generosity for which I will never forget and something that I hope I have done for others.

What values do you bring to work with you and how have they served you and your community?

I have always taken my work life seriously and at the core I believe high levels of professionalism, honor, sincerity, truthfulness and trustworthiness help to ensure not only a successful career but a very meaningful one as well. Also, I have always tried to act with empathy and compassion which was most important when I was in clinical nursing.

If you could give your younger self a piece of advice about success, what would it be?

Dream big, be prepared for hard work and don’t despair when things don’t turn out exactly the way you had planned. It’s a journey with a curvy road not a straight line.

Be patient with yourself, you will get there!

Anything else you’d like to add?

It’s been a great honor to work alongside so many great people in Tulare County!





Posted in ITK Champions, Linked Learning.