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Chanell Jackson ‘12: A Detour to Her Dream Job

A detour to her dream job takes this nurse back full circle

August 20, 2020

Chanell Jackson - Labor and delivery nurse at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles
Chanell Jackson - Labor and delivery nurse at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles

As far back as she can remember, Chanell Jackson BSN ’12 wanted to deliver babies. But her path there was anything but linear. As a premed student in college, her goal was to be an ob/gyn, but during her senior year at her undergraduate institution her career in healthcare was put on hold.

Jackson received emergency teaching credentials after being recruited to teach high school science. “I like teaching, don’t get me wrong, but it’s so underfunded and overcrowded,” says Jackson. “So many things get in the way of the actual teaching.” Ultimately, a college friend recruited her to work as a microbiologist at the Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center in Los Angeles, where Jackson had worked as a phlebotomist throughout college. When she was 32 years old, Jackson started researching midwifery, with the goal to become a midwife by the time she turned 40.

In California, one must be a nurse to be a midwife. An acquaintance, a Mount alum, steered her toward the accelerated BSN program. “I went to an information session and didn’t apply anywhere else,” she said. “The school has the best reputation. It’s really research driven and the clinical placements are very strong. The standards at the Mount are set at such a high level that it brings qualities out in you that you didn’t know you had.”

As focused as she was on midwifery, Jackson didn’t stop to realize that she’d have to be exposed to all aspects of nursing. During her UCLA clinicals, she worked the liver transplant floor and acutely remembers a woman about her same age who was bed bound and suffering from an autoimmune-driven liver failure. “It pushed me to take better care of myself,” said Jackson. “I also realized that nursing is about taking care of not only the patient but their families.”

And when she finally got to that much-anticipated OB rotation? “It was the best thing ever,” she said. “I fell in love. I didn’t want to go home at the end of the day.”

Although she did pursue midwifery, Jackson is happy to be working as a labor and delivery nurse at Kaiser in West LA. “A midwife does her work and leaves,” she says. “I bond so much more with the patient as a bedside nurse. I always joke that if I won the lottery, I’d still want to deliver babies. I still cry sometimes when I deliver babies. I can’t believe I get to do this and get paid for it— and paid well. I’m so grateful.”

Her love for her job emanates from her voice despite the personal loss that her family suffered from the ravages of COVID. In March, her father lost his life to the virus one floor above where she works with her patients. Their journey was chronicled in an April 21 front-page article in the Los Angeles Times.

The chance to talk about nursing, rather than her father’s death, was a welcome respite for Jackson. “The nursing field is everchanging,” she says. “There are also so many different facets to pursue — administration, teaching, clinical, being a consultant to TV shows and movies. The investment of money in tuition really pays off in terms of salary and work-life balance.”