In the Bay Area and across the country, there will always be a tremendous need for health care professionals, particularly nurses. Among the most respected and satisfying position careers in the Bay Area, nurses play an indispensable role in providing quality health care to people of all ages and from all walks of life. After 34 years working as a registered nurse, one North Bay woman seems as passionate in her work as she did when she first started out as an aid. Janet Patterson of Maxim Healthcare Services in Santa Rosa shares some background on her fascinating career, in addition to providing valuable advice for people interested in a career in nursing,

(Photo Courtesy of Janet Patterson)

(Photo Courtesy of Janet Patterson)

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Can you describe your experience in the health care industry?

“When I started as an in-home support services aide in 1976, all health care jobs paid less, but practice emphasized giving people care, support and education. Over 35 years, the emphasis changed. It’s now on procedures, technology and pharmaceuticals at the expense of patient education, in-home care and community-based support. Staff working in hospitals may earn more, but overall, care-based jobs are fewer, and community-based care jobs pay much less.”

Are there are any tips you can offer people interested in entering a career in nursing?

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“Be a people person. Like science. Have a second language, or at least an ear for accents. Appreciate difference. Enjoy learning, teaching and mentoring. Be patient. Get a good financial adviser early on and set aside savings. Enjoy variation. Critical Care Nursing and Home Health Nursing are equally necessary to a community’s health.”

With the current health care laws, do you foresee increased demand for nurses in the next few years?

“I hope so. I hope there will be more clinic-based care and more support for in-home visiting nursing care. We send people home from hospitals with amazing technology, on complex pharmaceutical regimens and with very little nursing support – I’m hoping that changes. Nursing takes place everywhere, not just in hospitals, which is what I love most about it. Everywhere I go, I’m a practicing registered nurse.”

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Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on