Graduate Spotlight: Karen Liseth Guardado

- Author: Maggie Morris - Categories:

Karen Liseth Guardado knew it was time for a change when she began to long for more autonomy, career choices, and knowledge beyond being a Registered Nurse. As a full-time RN and mother of two, she decided to pursue her MSN-FNP online at USC. She completed the program part-time, providing her with the flexibility she needed coupled with the preparation required to provide high-quality healthcare. 

She completed her MSN-FNP degree in August 2022 and is now working her “dream job” as a Nurse Practitioner at USC Urology where she feels a true sense of belonging. Karen was the first nurse practitioner hired in her department and has developed her own Standardized Procedures to perform urological procedures. 

Below, Karen discusses her experience in the program and On-campus Intensives and shares her greatest successes since earning her Online MSN-FNP at USC.

Tell us about yourself: your family, friends, interests/hobbies, and professional experience.

I am a daughter of immigrant parents from El Salvador, and I am also an immigrant myself. I was born in El Salvador and came to the US illegally in 1992. My interests and hobbies include reading interesting books, working out (mostly in the form of dance like HIIT Zumba which I do at least 3 times per week), hiking, spending time with friends, my family and dogs, going to the movies, and watching crime shows. 

I worked in urology (at USC) from 2016 to 2020. In less than 2 years of working there, I became charge nurse of the unit. I really loved it but I became interested in going back to get my master’s degree in 2018. At that time I did some research and found out that USC had an FNP program. I imagined getting hired at USC as a Nurse Practitioner but I had heard that this was incredibly hard and virtually no NPs without any previous work experience get hired at USC. I knew that it wasn’t impossible and that I had gotten to know a lot of good people in Urology who might be willing to take a chance on me, and I was right. 

I graduated from USC with my Master of Science in Nursing in August of 2022. I began studying for boards and passed in December of 2022. I continued working as an RN as I was not in a hurry to leave USC and the job I had come to love. I thought I would try to apply for NP jobs at USC, even though I knew it might be nearly impossible to get hired without any experience. I found out through networking, from some of my friends and colleagues in urology that they were in need of providers in the Urology Clinic but also found out that there were no NPs in outpatient urology. So I thought I would never get hired there. 

During the summer I saw an NP position for Urology open up, (which seemed like a miracle to me) and I applied without any hopes of getting hired. It was the best news of my life when I got the call that I had gotten the job. I was at work and I could not help but cry happy tears. Coworkers were asking me what was wrong and I only told them it was happy tears. I did not tell anyone until it was very official, in part because I still did not believe it myself. I began working as a Urology outpatient NP in September of 2023, and so far I have been enjoying the learning process. I feel as if this is where I belonged all along. Nothing but amazing things have been happening since I began working there. 

What was your motivation for pursuing your MSN-FNP degree?

My two children were my biggest motivation. I also had a sense of wanting to expand my autonomy and knowledge beyond an RN. I began to get burned out as an RN and I wanted to have more career choices as I got older. I’ve always loved helping people and I knew as an NP I would be able to have a greater sense of satisfaction in my career.  

Why did you choose USC?

I chose USC because I already worked for the company, and I would have most of my tuition paid. Also, other schools had different curriculums which did not fit my current life situation. USC has a part-time track which was very convenient for me and my family. 

What was the deciding factor in pursuing an online degree?

The flexibility and the fact that I could work full-time as an RN but still attend school part-time was very convenient for my family and I. 

How would you describe your experience pursuing your MSN-FNP at USC?

I love the entire experience. It was not an easy journey, but it was very rewarding. I always felt supported, and my professors were always an email or phone call away. They were amazing teachers who served as role models for me. 

Tell us about your experience with On-campus Intensives.

On-campus Intensives were tough but incredibly informative. I learned so much from them and got to actually practice many clinical skills on actual people. I was extremely nervous but ended up enjoying them in the end. 

Tell us about a time in which you could put your knowledge gained in the classroom to work immediately at your job.

The MSN program at USC taught me so many valuable skills such as conducting research and writing consult notes and prescriptions, all of which I immediately used upon being hired. Since I was the first Nurse Practitioner to be hired in my department, there were no Standardized Procedures in place for Nurse Practitioners in Urology. I have had to develop my own Standardized Procedures to be able to perform urological procedures. 

How have you grown personally or professionally since completing your coursework and degree?

I have grown as a provider. I feel more confident making decisions that help my patients daily. It has helped me to gain experience with diagnosing and prescribing medications, as well as treating and understanding many urological conditions of our patients. I work with amazing colleagues who make me feel appreciated and valued. 

What has been your biggest personal or professional success since completing your degree?

My biggest personal success would be having set a great example for my kids, and being able to spend a lot more time doing the things I love, like working out and spending time with loved ones now that I have more free time. 

I have a great sense of pride in myself for having been hired at my dream job and loving where I work. When I was in school I would constantly worry that I would hate working as an NP or that I would regret going back to school for a career that I would not enjoy as much as being an RN but this could not have been further from the truth. I am very grateful for all the blessings I have received since I graduated from USC. 

Learn more about the Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner program.

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