“By the time you leave here, I’m going to walk to you.”
These determined words — spoken by her very first patient in a clinical setting — have stuck in Jaines Andrades’ mind over the past decade. The patient was a middle-aged man who had broken every extremity in his body. Jaines recalls thinking at the time that him regaining mobility in 12 weeks — the duration of her rotation — would be nothing short of monumental.
“Twelve weeks go by,” Jaines said. “I looked over and my patient was walking toward me. I’ll never forget it.
“He was a trauma patient, and now I’m a trauma NP,” Jaines added. “It all came full circle.”
Jaines knows something about having that level of determination. While the Springfield native has worked at Baystate Medical Center for a decade, a significant number of them were spent not as a medical professional, but rather as a member of the custodial staff.
While earning her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Elms (class of 2014) and then her RN license, Jaines worked as a member of the Baystate cleaning staff. She started by cleaning an urgent care unit, then transferred to the operating room. Being in a medical environment allowed her to observe patient care and develop a deep interest in healthcare.
“I learned humility,” she says, noting that hospitals critically depend on clean, sanitized rooms to function. “Now that I’m a provider, I keep that in mind and treat everyone with respect, since I’ve been on both sides.”
Balancing the daily grind of a 9-5 job with collegiate studies is challenging, to say the least. But Jaines was driven by the fact that she was fulfilling a lifelong dream.
“Other girls dream of getting married,” she added. “College was my dream. When I graduated with my BSN, I had reached my lifetime goal.”
Jaines didn’t stop there, however. She continued at Elms, ultimately reaching the highest level of education available to clinical advanced practice nurses — the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree. She is now a nurse practitioner (NP) in the Trauma and Surgery unit, treating gunshot victims and others in dire need of immediate medical attention.
Her journey received nationwide media attention last fall when Jaines proudly noted her career progression by posting a picture on Facebook of her three BMC badges: as custodian, as RN, and as an NP.
That resulted in her gaining the attention of such nationwide media outlets as Good Morning America, CNN, People, and World News Tonight with David Muir. She even got a shoutout from Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker in the part of his January 2021 State of the Commonwealth address when he thanked the state’s first responders to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of people have now heard her story.
“I’m so appreciative and in awe that my story can inspire people,” she said. “That in itself made the journey worth it.”
Jaines notes that it would be particularly sweet if she inspires other women of color, particularly her fellow Puerto Ricans. Last year she read a study on the educational disparities Puerto Rican women face that truly put her own journey into perspective.
“It said that if 100 [Puerto Rican] girls start kindergarten, less than one will eventually have a doctorate,” she said. “What I’m grateful for now is that I’m that less than one.”
This article was previously published in the Spring 2021 issue of Elms Magazine.