Nurse Aims to Improve Healthcare Access for Veterans

Christina Figueruelo, a graduate of Chamberlain College of Nursing’s RN to BSN Online Option, is not one to just hope for change in the U.S. healthcare system. She is actively working to make it happen.

Following five years of service in the Navy, Figueruelo tried to access her healthcare benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and found herself on a long waitlist.

“The VA has a lot of really great care providers who do everything they can, but the red tape that comes with the bureaucracy needs to be changed,” she said. “I’d like to fix access to care for veterans – both mental health and basic care services.”

Her experience as a patient inspired her to volunteer at her local VA Medical Center to experience the system from the employee perspective. It was during this time that she saw challenges she thought that she could help fix. Formerly an electronics technician, she decided to enroll in school to become a nurse.

As a busy working mom, Figueruelo found that she could work Chamberlain’s program around her schedule and life and she made the decision to continue on with her education. She recently started Chamberlain’s Master of Science in Nursing Healthcare Policy Specialty Track to learn more about the research, design and implementation of healthcare policies.

“I’m only in my second class but I’m starting to incorporate theory into how I think about policy being written,” she said. “I can integrate Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring into how I write policies and hopefully change legislation for the better – and not only for veterans. My scope is getting broader.”

Within the next few years, Figueruelo hopes to start working in a healthcare policy or healthcare analyst position to fully immerse herself in healthcare policies and procedures. Long-term, she hopes to work on the legislative side to affect change in healthcare governance – and she doesn’t plan to limit that change to veterans.

“I’m also starting to get interested in safe nurse-to-patient ratios and universal healthcare access for all people,” she said. “While I started out just thinking about veterans, now my social scope has broadened and I see a whole range of people I want to help.”

Figueruelo also hopes to bring her journey full circle – from patient to advocate – by returning to the Department of Veteran Affairs, where she aims to affect change in access to care for veterans.

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