We sat down with Yvonne Perez MSN, APRN, NNP-BC, neonatal nurse practitioner at South Texas Health System McAllen and Rio Grande Regional Hospital in McAllen, Texas. Yvonne attended The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, where she received her master’s degree. She’s been in practice for 24 years, 13 of which have been with PediatrixTM Medical Group. She is passionate about continuing education and is currently pursuing her doctor of nursing practice through Baylor University.
Watch the video for the full interview or check out the highlights below!
How did you get into the field of medicine?
First, when I was early on in my undergraduate, I went to college not knowing what I wanted to do. I had a niece that was born in 1987 with a single ventricle. So, my first visit into a neonatal intensive care unit was overwhelming but yet fascinating — seeing a tiny baby, helpless, hooked up to all of these wires and tubes — and I just wanted to learn about the field of neonatology. Actually, I had never heard of the word “neonatology” at that point. So, I applied to nursing school and got my bachelor’s degree.
And going back to that visit into the neonatal intensive care unit was also my first introduction to the nurse practitioner role. I remember standing there overwhelmed, and a nurse practitioner came up to me and asked if I had any questions. I didn’t even know what to ask, but she was so welcoming and compassionate that I thought, 'I want to do this. I want to help families get through the most stressful time in their lives.’
What do you think it means to be a woman in health care today?
I think being a woman in health care is powerful. There have been so many changes over the years as far as the number of women in health care — it has grown exponentially as far as the nurse-practitioner role and nursing. In 2007, there were approximately 120,000 nurse practitioners, but the majority of them were women. And then years later, in 2018, we see that number has more than doubled with more than 270,000 nurse practitioners, and the majority of them are women. So that, to me, is powerful.
What are the challenges for women in health care?
The challenges of being a woman in health care and probably in my field are, No. 1, the demand that’s put on you at work. You have to be a multitasker — you have people coming up to you and asking you questions. Learning how to prioritize is probably one of the most challenging things I have encountered becoming a nurse practitioner and a woman in health care. No. 2, the emotional strain that comes with being in health care, and I think more so with being a woman because we have that maternal instinct, especially in my field of neonatology — we get involved, we get emotional, we cry. But we have to learn how to step back and leave that at work, and then come home and reflect and look out for ourselves at home. Those are the two most challenging things that I have seen in my career during the past 24 years.
How can women clinicians support fellow women clinicians?
Be an advocate, be their voice and support each other. There’s so much you can do to empower the field of nursing and nurse practitioners, and it takes a village to get where we want to be in health care. The role of nurse practitioner and women in health care has come a long way, and that has been because of the support of women — women getting together and making a difference in health care.
Another thing I want to say about the positives of being a woman in health care is the bonds you build with patients and families. In my role as a practitioner, it’s not only my patients, but it’s their families. You build this bond that, for some, you remember them forever. I have patients going back 24 years, and they come back and visit me and remember me, and it’s just so rewarding to see that — very rewarding.
Interested in joining our team of talented neonatal nurse practitioners?