Leyla Abbass Ali always knew she wanted to do something in the medical field. She just didn't know what it was.
Her first job was as an emergency medical technician, before she eventually started working at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital as an emergency room technician.
And that’s where things got interesting.
“I didn't know that I definitely wanted to do nursing until I started working in the ER,” she said. “After, I'd say, less than a few months of working there I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, nursing, ER nursing especially, is so amazing.’ I had no idea how cool of a job it was. I need to do this.”
Ali worked as an ER tech for five years at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital and graduated from West Coast University in January 2018. Once she takes — and passes — the NCLEX, she wants to end up back where it all started for her.
“I just love emergency medicine in general. I love the pace and the atmosphere and I like the adrenaline rush,” Ali said. “That's just my scene.”
How did you hear about WCU?
I have a couple friends and fellow ER techs who went to West Coast from my work. They told me about it and helped me with the application process and I got started right away. One is now working at Ronald Reagan-UCLA in the ER, so that's amazing, and my other friend, she graduated a few terms ago and is now an ER nurse back at Santa Barbara Cottage where I met her.
Did you work while in CORE nursing?
I cut down my hours significantly, so I was working about every other weekend, Fridays and Saturdays, because that's as much as I could really handle, especially with it being far away. But I wanted to keep my job and I wanted to show my commitment to the hospital, and it worked out.
What's the best thing about nursing for you?
Personally, I feel a sense of gratification when I see that my interventions and my care and just being there for a patient is actually making them feel comforted, depending on their health status. I just want them to know that I'm there for them and that I'm someone that they can rely on to be their advocate or just a friend if they need it. Just making a positive impact on someone's life does it for me.
What's the hardest part about nursing?
Nursing doesn't always end up the way that you want it to. Certain situations don't go as well as you want them to and you can end up being really sad, but I found ways to cope with that — whether it's by relying on co-workers, talking through things with them, having a little meeting with the staff involved, talking to friends and family outside of work or just finding other outlets that have nothing to do with health care that you can enjoy and keep a balance in your life.
What was the best thing about WCU for you?
What I liked about West Coast as opposed to nursing programs I looked at in Santa Barbara was that you got such a wide range of clinical experience. In Santa Barbara there's only one hospital, so you're doing all your clinical work in one hospital — which is a nice hospital — but being in LA you got to see Children's Hospital LA, Good Samaritan and all these different places and nursing homes and public health. You got to see a wide range of clinical settings.
What advice would you give a new student?
No matter how hard it gets, just keep going because it will end and it's going to be worth it — absolutely. It'll change your life in the best way.
What do you want people to know about WCU?
I think that West Coast does a great job of preparing you for the NCLEX. There's a lot of resources and support that I feel like a lot of people don't always utilize — so use them. Career Services is a great department. The Student Success coordinators are there for you, your teachers. Everyone's there to help you and you just need to apply yourself and put yourself out there and ask for help if you need it. It's a great program for that. And as for the (Global Public Health) program — do it. If you can do it, you should do it. It was one of the best things I've ever done.