We had the good fortune of connecting with Amanda Reyes and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Amanda, what habits do you feel helped you succeed?
I do not feel that I have “succeeded” yet. To say I have succeeded already would mean that I am at the end of my professional journey—and I am far from that. If success is defined as being in a rewarding career that I love, working with my best friends, and being able to provide for my family; then yes. I am truly blessed and successful. I believe that my success has been due to my positive attitude, resilience, and belief that everything I do makes a difference. I have a positive attitude. When I was a new nurse, I remember walking around in the hospital and smiling. Someone told me, “you must be new because you are always smiling.” Well, I’ve been a nurse for 12 years now and I’m still smiling. That’s just me. I bring that attitude to work with me every day. I treat everyone the way I want to be treated. Now that I am a Nurse Manager, I keep this attitude because I want to be an example to my staff and the new nurses joining the workforce. I lead by example. Resilience in nursing is essential. As a nurse leader, changes are constantly occurring. The secret to my success is staying resilient and being adaptable to the situation. During my beginning nursing career, I applied to jobs that I thought were suited for me. I would go to interviews and not be offered the position. I took every interview as a learning opportunity to practice and get my name out there. I thought of my current role as an extended job interview. I tried my best to be an exemplar registered nurse on the floor. Later, when I started in the nursing education department, I found out that my reputation in the hospital helped me gain the job that lead to my dream job later—staying resilient and knowing that everything will work out in the end. Learning from your failures and moving forward. During the pandemic, my position is considered administrative. However, I made it a point to be in the hospital and be visible to my staff. I wanted them to know that we are in this together. I came in early and stayed late. We will fight this pandemic together! Lastly, the belief that everything I do is making a difference. I do not make a decision in my position for my own benefit. I like to think about every decision before reacting. I make decisions that are best for my team, my organization, and our patients. I fight for what I believe is right, and I stand by my decisions. I try my best to understand everything regarding a situation before I provide my input. Even if I fail, it is an opportunity to learn how to be better next time. My staff knows that I will listen and stand up for them. My success is our success.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am the nurse manager of nursing education. I work for the research, development, and innovation department at my hospital. I believe what sets me apart from others is that I am an overachiever in everything in life. I don’t see myself as the smartest, best nurse but my heart is in the right place. I genuinely care for my patients, employees, and organization. Work doesn’t seem like work when you love what you do. I worked to the best of my ability, and I accept accountability. I strive for perfection and I enjoying delivering. I am in control of my thoughts, feelings, and reactions. During the pandemic, and even now, while the pandemic is still among us, I had to remind my staff and myself why we all became nurses. I wanted to help people. Nurses simply care. The nurses are the ones at the bedside 24-7. We aren’t allowed to telework. We aren’t allowed to stay home. There are people that need us. It’s the job I signed up for. I maybe a leader in my organization but I am first and foremost a bedside nurse. I work for the frontline staff. Whether it is finding more support staff to help or ensuring enough personal protective equipment is given. There is a lot going on behind the scenes in every hospital. I assure you that the real players both behind the scenes and in the trenches are the nurses. I am a servant and transformational leader. I give my staff what they need to succeed and I use their strengths to build a better future for tomorrow. I am most proud of my new graduate nurse programs. I manage two in my hospital. I remember when I was a new nurse, I was placed on the floor immediately and trained with a preceptor. I believe that is how most nurses start by being “thrown into the wolves”. I remember at times feeling lost. I had questions but I was too embarrassed to ask. I wish I could talk to someone about dealing with difficult patients, distraught family members, and my first patient death. I was lucky to have a good support system in other new grads within my unit. The power of “venting” is so therapeutic. There is a perception that you should know how to perform the perfect assessment, pass medications timely, and follow doctors’ orders immediately. I never wanted a new nurse to feel the way I felt. I have dedicated these past few years to recruiting, nurturing, and retaining our new graduate nurses. It is no surprise that we have been fairly warned about the nursing shortage. What better way to solve this issue but to grow our own? I see myself in every new nurse. I don’t want them to feel lost or afraid. It takes more time to spend with each recent grad, but it is worth the effort in the end. Through the efforts of my department and team, we have two very successful registered nurse residency programs. Our retention rate for our new graduate nurses are 89%. I have several new graduate nurses from five years ago who are now nurse leaders. I want to train nurses the right way. Teach them to follow policies and procedures and show them where their resources are located. I enforce good healthy habits from the beginning. I shot myself in the foot a little bit because now the nurses are staying and our vacancy rates have decreased. I find myself with less open positions to offer new nurses, but I wish I could hire them all.

Getting to where I am today was personally a humbling experience. There have been roadblocks, but I see every action as a learning experience. I worked hard to be a good bedside nurse. I see that some new graduate nurses want to be managers, chiefs, nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse specialist immediately. They don’t even know what the role entails. They just see more money and want it. I am fortunate to have worked the bedside within the critical care department for eight years night shift. Every experience I have encountered and the friendships I have made have molded me into the nursing leader I am today. I remember being a bedside nurse and wondering what leadership was doing to support the floor. The answer to that is doing everything and so much more! I see that the role of the nurse managers as one of the most demanding jobs in a hospital. While I worked at the bedside, I obtained my master’s degree in nursing administration. I applied to various registered nurse opportunities in the hospital. I applied to be an infection control nurse (how my life would have been so different during the pandemic) and I interviewed to be a nurse recruiter (later I became the supervisor over nursing recruitment). I didn’t get either of those positions but I didn’t let that bring my spirits down. Nothing had changed with me. It is not a failure to not get a job. You just keep going. Tell yourself that there is always next time. There will always be another opportunity. Continue to being the best nurse possible. The stars will align.

Later I interviewed for a nurse educator position. I enjoy teaching and public speaking. When I was little, I use to pretend to be a nurse or a teacher. My past interviews helped prepare me for my nurse educator interview. Now I can have the best of both worlds. The nursing education department is the best area in my hospital. They work hard and play hard. We spend countless hours creating curriculums and competencies while being subject matter experts 24-7. When the opportunity came to become the manager of education, I had to throw my name into the hat. I knew that I was young; I had only been an educator for two years. But in two years, I have accomplished so much. I brought simulation training to our units, trained hundreds of multidisciplinary teams in mandatory hospital training, and coordinated our first new graduate nurse residency program. I finally became a nurse manager but still had a lot to learn. I had to learn how to balance a schedule, have crucial conversations, and empower my staff to lead the next generation of nurses. What helped me is having a group of nurse managers for support. To talk about our challenges and work towards getting better every day. I started training supervisors about how to be supervisors. I taught managers how to write performance appraisals. I enjoyed teaching leaders “how to be leaders”. I will never stop achieving my goals. I applied for a full scholarship to a doctor in nursing practice program for executive leadership. I was so lucky to be awarded this opportunity. It has been a long journey, but I finally graduated this month (August 2021). I know I was already a nurse leader, but sometimes you need the paper to prove it. To verify one’s seriousness. A doctor nurse is an unusual title. Sounds funny huh?
Lessons I’ve learned along the way is that I’ve done it and so can you. Particularly those who are full time working, students, and mothers. I did it. I did it by being the best employee I could be. Being the best student I could be. And being the best mother. I know what it is like to be nursing a newborn while typing a paper and waking up early in the morning to be the pillar of support for your team. So take time out for yourself. Love yourself. And if its too much, then slow down. The world is your oyster, and you are the only thing holding you back from your achievements.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friends were to be visiting Los Angeles for a week, we would most definitely start with a morning hike at Runyon Canyon. I love to take people there, especially for the view of Los Angeles (land to see/Downtown LA to Santa Monica Beach). I would take them to the intense hike. Runyon has several different paths, I prefer to stay on the west trail known as “the spine trail,” which is the steepest and most challenging to climb but worth the view. After hiking early morning, I love eating at Chaumont Bakery & Café in Beverly hills. They have the best buttery croissants. I enjoying sharing avocado toast and a latte. I also frequent Le Pain Quotidien for breakfast. I order their avocado toast and dip it in a cup of fresh cold gazpacho. Perfect for a summer morning. I’ve lived in the San Fernando Valley my whole life. I could go shopping all day. In the afternoon you will find me shopping at the Westfield Topanga Mall. Browsing Nordstrom’s and looking at the latest designer handbags and shoes. For a cheap quick bite, and oldie but a good, in Sherman Oaks I have always been a loyal fan of Sushi Mac. Its quick cheap sushi. Basically order anything and get their “mac sauce”. I’m a big musical theatre nerd. Before the pandemic, I would get season tickets to watch musicals at the Pantages Theatre and Ahmanson Music Center. If I was in Hollywood, I would eat at L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele (same restaurant in Italy from the movie Eat, Pray, Love). I would order a pizza to share with my friends. Don’t forget to order my favorite scallops appetizer with cauliflower puree and shaved black truffle. Delicious! When I know I’ll be in Downtown LA I try to snag a reservation at Majordomo. Everything there is good. I’m never disappointed. If there are no musicals in town, I would definitely take my friends to the Banc of California Stadium for a game with the Los Angeles Football Club. My family has been season ticket holders since the club was formed, we are considered “founders”. We always go to the Mercado La Paloma. There is a bunch of restaurants there but our favorite is called Holbox. Get their Taco De Pulpo En Su Tinta or Scallop taco. Yummy yummy seafood. For a late night snack as I drive back to the valley I love eating at Birrieria San Marcos truck. I go to the one on Lankershim and Burbank however I know they have other trucks in the valley. Their cheese tacos dipped in consommé is the best!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
If college has taught me anything, it has taught me how extraordinary my upbringing has been. I appreciate all the sacrifices and hard work my parents Evelyn Reyes & Alfredo Reyes have done in raising me. My parents immigrated from the Philippines and made sure my brothers and I had everything we needed to succeed in life. Thank you, mom and dad, for fulfilling all your promises to us. I couldn’t ask for better parents. My aunt, Leticia Palomo, is like a second mother to me. Her love is so conditional and true. She was always there to drive me to school, take me shopping, and overall being optimistic about every situation. Being a full-time employee, mother, and a student was only possible with the support and love of my husband, Jose Palacios. I could not be a super mom without an awesome husband to aid me. I grew up with two incredibly amazing and successful big brothers, Alan & Alfred. They were both such a good influence and have always been there whenever I needed them. Thank you for the late-night talks, for teaching me sports, buying me cool clothes, giving me the latest technology, introducing me to music, and so much more. I like to think I’m the best qualities of my big brothers combined. My brother-in-law Cedric and sister-in-law Michelle are the best extensions of Alan and Alfred. They have both taught me so much about life and have always supported me. I love having an additional big brother and sister to look up too. My former boss Dr. Ahnnya Slaughter. She is the reason I wanted to be a nurse leader. I want to grow up and be like her. She exemplifies nursing leadership and constantly leaves me in a state of awe of her knowledge and integrity. My current supervisor, Dr. Robert Rice, sees my potential and reminds me of why I became a nurse – to simply be good and do good. My assistant manager, Mallory Oberts who is my sound board at work. She gives me a safe place to vent, think, and be creative. My core group of girlfriends “the squirts” Suzaine, Nikki, Kimie, Jamie, & Angela. They keep me sane and remind me not to sweat the small things in life. I am so lucky to have a group of young, beautiful, successful women that surround me. Thank you for reminding me that no matter what “it will all be ok”. Lastly my two sons Angel & Alejandro. My reason for living. Everything I do is for them. I want them to grow up into amazing happy gentlemen. So I’m making the world a better place in their name.

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amanda-reyes-086171a1/

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