New, full-time on-campus nurse inspired by mom, a first responder

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Minjeong Kim

In front of her supplies cabinet on May 17, nurse Amy Hernandez holds up the sign-in sheet that students use to visit her in Room 7.

Minjeong Kim

Amy Hernandez wanted to be a nurse since she was in middle school at South Junior High School, especially since her mother was one.

“I remember my mother gifting me toy sets, and one of my favorites was a doctor set,” Hernandez said. “I loved playing with the stethoscope, thermometer and blood pressure cup with my mother since I had two older brothers, and they didn’t want to play with me.”

By the time she was in high school at Katella High School in the Anaheim Union High School District in 2009, she took all classes related to nursing through the Regional Occupational Program [ROP] starting freshman summer.

“There were certain classes that I needed to take to get into the nursing program,” said Hernandez, whose grandmother and aunt were also nurses. “I took courses such as fundamentals of nursing, certified nursing assistant and medical core.”

However, this desire to pursue the medical career was finalized when her grandmother underwent major surgery in the hospital in 2008, and she met first responders who gave her family comfort during hard times.

Before that, she was also inspired by the way the hospital staff gave her family comfort when her grandmother underwent major surgery in 2008.

“I saw how rewarding the nursing field could be and also loved the diversity in the nursing field,” Hernandez said. “I loved the idea of being able to transfer between departments and getting more knowledge and experience under my belt.”

I saw how rewarding the nursing field could be and also loved the diversity in the nursing field.”

— nurse Amy Hernandez

Hernandez received education in each individual system, such as pediatrics and labor, from a 13-month program, including labor and delivery of the body.

Taking steps toward achieving her dream, she graduated in 2015 through the North Orange County ROP, where she received her licensed vocational nursing license. After receiving her diploma certificate, she said she passed California’s Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians test at the beginning of 2016.

“I grew up in Anaheim, and I went to Anaheim Union High School District, and Sunny Hills always had a good reputation since I was in high school,” Hernandez said. “I  knew it was a good school, the students excelled, the staff was kind; education was really important here, so it was my top choice compared to other places in the Los Angeles County.”

Hernandez said she had other options of going to schools in Long Beach or El Segundo, but Sunny Hills stood out to her as a top choice.

The new nurse officially started working with the Fullerton Joint Union High School District [FJUHSD] on Feb. 21. Before coming to Sunny Hills on Feb. 24, she trained and shadowed other school nurses at La Habra and Troy High School for three days.

Prior to coming here, she said she worked as a nurse at Providence Urgent Care for two and a half years and worked in medical groups, such as AltaMed and other physician’s offices for four years. 

In 2022, she joined Sunny Hills after she saw that it was hiring a school nurse through ProCare Therapy, a staffing agency that the FJUHSD contracts with to find nurses.

At Sunny Hills, some of her duties include caring for students who have long-term health conditions such as diabetes, seizures, severe allergies as well as managing supplies, like emergency medications, and checking in with students who are not feeling well to determine whether they should remain at school or be sent home. 

She also creates health plans for individual students to help them with different health conditions, such as those who previously had seizures or other care plans during school days, head nurse Ynette Johnson said. 

Because health matters are confidential, The Accolade is unable to identify students interviewed by name. But so far, those whom Hernandez has treated have nothing but praise for the new nurse.

“My first impression of nurse Amy was that she would be strict, but she’s very friendly and prepared,” said a freshman, who visits Hernandez often for medical reasons related to diabetes. “My experience with her has so far been great, and she knows what she’s doing.”

As a first-time school nurse, Hernandez hopes to establish meaningful relationships with individual students by fostering a comfortable and safe environment in her office.

“My goals are to get to know the students more, and I decided to do school nursing because it is more continuity of care,” she said. “You get to know your students, get to grow with them and can see them through the years.”

She describes her experience at Sunny Hills to be pleasant and looks forward to getting more involved in the Lancer community.

“Sunny Hills is great; the students are awesome, and it is a really welcoming environment,” Hernandez said. “I love the school spirit here, and I like that there is a lot of trust in the students because I feel like students are given the freedom to discover who they are and become the young adults that they are turning into.”