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Candice Lapa

Computer Triage Nurse

Fresno, CA

It is one thing to excel at what comes naturally, and quite another to become proficient at what defies easy understanding.

That I would become a nurse was never a question. From early childhood, my nurturing nature and fascination with medicine drew me towards my goal of becoming an RN.

I worked as a Labor and Delivery nurse at a high risk tertiary care teaching hospital for 19 years. Working with the resident doctors in a bare, no-frills county facility was challenging, rewarding and more fun than I ever could have imagined.

The 90s brought computers to the workplace, and with them my unplanned "lean in" juncture. I helped build and implement the first computer documentation system for L&D, and was subsequently offered a Nursing Informatics training position. At that moment, my crossroads loomed large as I considered an opportunity I could not have envisioned from my clinical nursing perspective.

Nursing was my passion and love, but it was also my comfort zone. I was functioning with confidence and ease in my OB nurse’s world, and was not inclined to want to "fix what wasnʼt broken." The emerging tech field was an entire world to which I had no exposure. I had never touched a computer keyboard! I feared leaving my team, and also losing confidence in my ability to do my job.

On the flipside, the job seemed like an amazing opportunity. I could lean in and explore the unknown, and embrace the stimulation and challenge of a new career.

So I leaned in. It was painful. I was thrust into a steep learning curve during a time period that included ailing parents with enormous needs. There were panic attacks and sleepless nights. Tech talk was as foreign to me as medical terminology is to the layperson. I had to get comfortable with feeling inept. I asked a lot of questions, researched software, hardware and networks, and tolerated feeling overwhelmed as a norm. Over time, it slowly began to make sense.

That was 15 years ago. It has not been easy, and computer pathophysiology still makes less sense than its human counterpart. On the other hand, the satisfaction has more than compensated for the struggle. It is one thing to excel at what comes naturally, and quite another to become proficient at what defies easy understanding.

Now when people ask me my profession, I tell them I’m a "Computer Nurse." I help the people who are at the bedside helping patients. And I love it.

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