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Careers: Most employers can match you with someone who needs health care assistance

Working as a direct support professional can help you prepare for related careers in health care. Many direct support professionals provide assistance to people with their medications and other health care needs. Direct support professionals also often work in partnership with licensed health care professionals to deliver therapy.

Nurse-practicionerLet your employer know if you are interested in pursuing a medical degree and need experience. Most employers can match you with someone who needs health care assistance, and some employers can even offer on-the-job training opportunities to earn a nursing assistant certification.

Bolo Diallo-Young started her career as a direct support professional and now works as a nurse practitioner. Here is her story:

What experience did you have in providing direct care?

Working as a PCA/DSP allowed me to figure out what career fits my personality, my goals, and my principles. I was humbled by the experience I acquired such as learning about life, compassion, patience, acceptance, and how to see a person beyond their physical or mental challenges. I learned to care for someone unconditionally and how to connect emotionally and understand children who are nonverbal, how to soothe them and make them feel safe and trusting.

What career do you have now?

I am a family nurse practitioner working as a hospitalist (a clinician whose primary focus is the medical care of hospitalized patients).

How does your early experience doing direct care help you to be effective in your current job?

Like I said earlier, working with people with special needs helped shape my professional career and my role as a mom of a child with special needs. I originally intended to seek a teaching degree in college but after I started working as a direct support professional, I realized that health care was my calling. Because of my experience from working with clients of different ages and needs, I was able to develop ways to understand their emotional and physical needs, which created a connection and trusting relationship between us. I have a great compassion and desire to encourage, support and empower my clients/patients. With no efforts, I was able to transfer these skills in my job as a nurse practitioner. Because of my experience, I have ways to connect and make my patients with special needs, especially nonverbal ones, feel comfortable and trusting during care, which can be scary in an unfamiliar environment such as a hospital.

The same skills applied to my abilities to care for my child with Down syndrome. I developed a natural intuition to understand their needs and to provide comfort without effort. I am very grateful for starting my path with being direct support professional.

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