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A Labor of Two Loves: Golden West College Nursing Instructor Anh Nguyen Feature Story
Some people want to become nurses. Others want to become teachers. But Golden West College nursing instructor Anh Nguyen has always wanted to be both.
“I love to teach,” she says. “It’s always been a passion of mine to combine nursing and teaching.”
Nguyen, who spent her early childhood in Saigon, came to the United States when she was 14 as an international student at Western Christian High School in Covina. Although she spoke no English when she arrived, she soon picked up the language through living with her uncle and his family. Her parents later joined her in the United States.
“I’m a product of community college. I want to give back to the community,” Nguyen says. “When I went to community college, I felt like my professors supported me. I learned a lot from them. I want to serve the students and give them good educations.”
Nguyen initially became interested in teaching because her father was a high school teacher and later was introduced to nursing by her brother who was a nurse.
After completing her associate degree in nursing at Mt. San Antonio College and at Citrus College, she moved on to California State University at Long Beach where she earned a bachelor’s degree in registered nursing. Later, she would finish a master’s degree in Family Practice Nurse/Nursing at United States University, an online school.
Over the course of her nursing career, Nguyen worked at a variety of hospitals through a nursing registry and spent a year in the intensive care unit at Garden Grove Hospital. She then taught at a private school for two years before she was hired at Golden West College as a student success coordinator. It was through these experiences that Nguyen realized the connection and impact she could make as a nursing teacher. In February, she joined the nursing faculty at Golden West College.
The School of Nursing at Golden West College offers an Associate Degree in Nursing that prepares students to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to become a registered nurse. According to its mission statement, its goal is to provide accessible, affordable, and intellectually stimulating education that results in the student’s successful completion of the nursing program. In 2020-21, GWC boasted an impressive pass rate of over 91%, which means that more than 9 out of 10 students who took the exam, passed it.
A hot job market for nurses means that Golden West graduates will have plenty of job opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says employment of registered nurses is expected to grow 9 percent for the next decade, with many openings resulting from those who exit the labor force or retire. In California, the median annual wage is $125,000+ according to the US Department of Labor.
In addition to in-class lessons, students at Golden West get critical hands-on experience through a state-of-the-art simulation lab with high-fidelity mannequins, and through clinical rotations at regional hospitals like Orange Coast Memorial Hospital, Fountain Valley Hospital, Hoag Hospital, and the University of California at Irvine Medical Center.
“Nursing is a very hands-on career. We have a lot of clinical sites so we offer a lot of hands-on experience. Students are able to see many different types of patients,” Nguyen says. “Our clinical partners like us because our students are very productive as we work to get the patient well.”
Looking to the future, Golden West is hoping to expand its program offerings to include licensed vocational nursing and/or certified nursing assistant programs.
“We are improving our program every day,” she says. “We evaluate and we improve day by day.”
For students considering a nursing career, Nguyen tells them that while it can be very demanding, it is also extremely fulfilling.
“Nurses have to take care of patients when they are at their worst,” she says. “We take direct care of the patients. But we also see their progress as they get better day by day and there’s nothing more rewarding than that.”