Angela Fichtner was always interested in nursing, but after graduating Lompoc High School in 1995, she wasn’t ready to pursue higher education.
Instead, she began work at Kendall-Shepard Eye Center, where she built a solid 20-year career as an office manager responsible for a wide variety of tasks such as building projects, optical and more.
“I loved working there, but I was looking for a new challenge, as my boys were kind of grown,” she said. “I needed an outlet.”
With that in mind, she turned to nursing. While still working part-time, she began school in 2008, and eventually moved to Cuesta College’s nursing program in 2015, graduating with her bachelor of science degree in nursing in May 2017 from the California State University at Monterey Bay program.
She started work at LVMC’s Perinatal Services Department last October, drawn to that area of nursing because of the experience she had delivering her own sons at the former Lompoc hospital.
“I loved all the nurses when I had my kids,” Angela recalled. “It made such an impact on me that I thought it would be a cool area to work in. That was my goal when I started nursing school; to work in labor and delivery.”
Doing her nursing rotations during college, she wasn’t sure if she’d find something else she liked more than labor and delivery. It turns out, no matter what she tried, she was always drawn back to labor.
“I like that you get to do a little bit of everything in this unit,” she explains. “You’re not just solely doing labor and you’re not just solely doing post-partum moms or babies. You get to experience the whole gamut and you get to follow through with your patients … There’s a little more continuity of care.”
Angela also wanted to find a job locally – something she sought because she preferred not to commute.
“I love working in town,” Angela says. “I love working with the people that you live with in town – familiar faces, people you know. I think it’s good to be invested in the community where you live, and where my kids are growing up.”
Angela is delighted to be working alongside some of the same nurses who helped her through her own deliveries, and getting to now have a similar impact on new mothers.
“Getting to be there, you get to see a parent’s reaction when they get to meet their child for the first time face-to-face,” she says. “It’s a very unique experience. Most of the time, it’s a happy place to be. Most of the time people are relatively healthy. You’re not dealing with sadness as much as you would in other units.”
Helping support new mothers, and the babies make her grateful she opted for her career change.
“You get to make a difference and support them,” she says. “A mother will never forget the day she delivered her baby. It’s important to make that a good day for them, however, that is – supporting them, encouraging them – and getting their baby taken care of in a way that they’re safe and good.”