Diverse Perspectives & Advocacy

Steadfast Nurse: Jake Luis Hernandez

Sarah Gray, RN
January 10, 2019
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Jake was born and raised in Corona, NY, a predominantly Hispanic community threaded with poverty, crime, and health disparities. He spent his childhood overcoming adversity and predispositions to stagnation.

He graduated New York University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Minor in Child and Adolescent Mental Health studies. During his undergrad, he studied abroad in London, co-founded a mentorship program for underrepresented college students, and discovered his love for mental health.

It’s safe to say that Jake was living a success story.

Becoming a Behavioral Health Registered Nurse

But it’s so typical that we hear only of the successes, especially when there’s so much more in the failures.

Nursing was a second degree for Jake. He failed the NCLEX, twice. But even that wasn’t enough to deter him.

behavioral health nursing

He landed a job as a Behavioral Health Registered Nurse at his dream hospital, which is also ranked as one of the best in Psychiatric Care. Jakes strives to live a well balanced lifestyle, which we all know can be difficult as a nurse. He’s the epitome of staying steadfast in the pursuit of whatever sets your soul on fire. Jake believes your failures and hardships do not define you, but your perseverance does.

And perseverant he is.

When did you realize you wanted to be a nurse? Why psych nursing?

I decided to go into psychiatric nursing and later become a mental health nurse practitioner after seeing first hand the lack of mental health resources available to Latinos and people of the LGBTQ community. I also saw the need for Latino faces in psychiatry who can relate to their patients and avoid language barriers.

What’s the most difficult aspect of your job?

The most difficult aspect of my job is dealing with the great deal of medical co-morbidities that oftentimes take away from psychiatric care on a geriatric psych unit. Also, the night shift is tough on me on so many levels: emotionally, physically, mentally, the list goes on.

What aspect of your job keeps you going despite the really bad, hard days?

When a patient tells me, “We need more nurses like you!,” it truly makes me feel like my particular care makes a difference and that I’m doing a great job, even though sometimes I may feel otherwise.

Nursing is one of your many hats. What’s another hat you wear that you feel most proud of?

psych nursing

I am also an entrepreneur, blogger, and photographer. I’ve had the entrepreneurial mindset for a couple of years. I was a health and fitness online coach, grew my social media page from that, and now I’m blogging (the plug: www.jakeluishernandez.com) about my nursing journey from nursing student to now. I also am a photographer on the side- from time to time, I have a strong creative side! And most recently I have begun speaking at events to share my experience as a psychiatric nurse.

How do you manage to stay so fit, maintain relationships, travel, and build such a strong brand with your nurse lifestyle?

It’s hard. I’m still trying to figure it out myself, day by day. I think the most important thing for me was being realistic with myself and finding ME time amongst all the things I want to accomplish. You can’t run on an empty tank, and sometimes we need to step back in order to move forward in life. Another motto I have is to just GO! and not think too much about the things we want to do. If you want to workout, just workout, if you want to date, start dating, if you want to travel, find a means to travel, if you want to start a brand, JUST START! You learn by doing, not by planning.

“You learn by doing, not by planning.”

Do you think it’s important to identify with other aspects of life in addition to being a nurse?

Yes, as a nurse you must be a well-rounded individual (especially for the sake of understanding your patients) and so you feel that you have a life aside from nursing. Balance and fulfillment in and outside of your career is key!

What do you wish the world knew about nursing?

I wish the world knew that there’s so much room for growth in nursing and that you can do so much in this career! The opportunities are LIMITLESS!

How do you feel about the future of nursing? And future of your nursing career?

I am excited about the future of nursing. I believe we are gaining more recognition and more well-deserved responsibilities! As for the future of my nursing career I am on GO MODE!

Ready for the next step, next move, taking whatever experience comes along the way.

behavioral health nurse

Lastly, a few quick nurse-related questions for you!

  • Healthiest habit for work days: SLEEP, EAT, EXERCISE, REPEAT!
  • My work mornings usually start with… finishing up my work shift since I work the night shift and dealing with heavy traffic trying not to fall asleep on the road!
  • Go-to meal that I pack for work/buy at work: a salad and chocolate! Yup- that’s my combo, and I ain’t sorry about it!
  • Favorite thing to do on a day-off: Chill, workout, go out, take pics!
  • Favorite app: VSCO (photo editing app that get’s my creative senses tingling!)
  • Clogs or sneakers? SNEAKERS! eww clogs.
  • Compression stockings, compression socks, or neither? Neither- I haven’t found a good pair for me yet.
  • Puke, poop, sputum, IV starts in babies, we’ve all got our aversion, what’s yours? Poop, poop, & IMs.
  • Go-to choice of caffeine? Cafe Con Leche!
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