A Rotaract Exclusive: Reflections with NP-C Latrese Ellis
By: Sensuous Eze
I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down and chat with a wonderful woman within my future career field. Her name is Latrese Ellis, a Nurse Practitioner and clinical manager at The Little Clinic in Carrollton. I am very grateful that she took time out of her busy day to allow me to interview her and ask her a few personal questions:
Q: What inspired you to be in this field?
A: “It’s actually not what, it’s who. My grandmother was a nurse…just retired. Just watching her, when I was younger, and the things she did. She was the president of a nursing organization in Chicago, I was inspired by my grandmother. Very active in the community. She was also involved in a sickle cell organization in Chicago back in the 70s and the 80s, and that’s back when people did not live long having sickle cell…I probably known since I was 3, so for me it wasn’t an eye opener…I knew from an early age this is what I wanted to do. ”
Q: What kind of obstacles did you encounter, and how did you overcome these obstacles to get to where you are today?
A: “So I was already married, and at the time I decided I no longer wanted to work in research, I was pregnant, with my son, and that was in ’95. I started nursing school right after having my son. While I was pregnant I was going to pay out of pocket. Gave birth Nov. 30th 1995, started nursing school by January 1996. Keep in mind that was my lil’ buddy for studying and learned how to read early…by three (years) actually.
There is no other option, you just do it! And I think that’s just how I look at life period. I don’t look at the barriers, that’s just part of life. I mean, I grew up in the inner city part of Chicago, do you know how many obstacles I faced? Unfortunately for me, that just a part of life. It’s all in your upbringing—your environment, it kind of dictates whether or not you’ll be successful. You know if you want something, you cannot allow your surroundings stop you from what you’re doing.”
Q: What kind of challenges/ rewards have you experienced since being in your field?
A: “That’s a very good question. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, I’m a breast cancer survivor. During that time, had a degree already. When I went back to school, I got an associates in nursing, but I needed a bachelors in order to move ahead. So after treatment, I went back to school full-time, got my bachelors and then worked towards my MSN. So it other words, that (breast cancer and recovery) did not stop me. Only took off time for surgery… see that’s what I’m saying I think it’s what’s instilled in you. It has to be, because I think of other people and people say to me even when I was going to work at that time, people asked me how am I doing this? I don’t know how not to. I don’t know anything else but to do it, the same went with breast cancer. Just another thing to deal with. This too shall pass. If you look at it that way, you will make it. I will survive only if I believe that. I got up every day to go to work, sitting at home would probably not have help.”
Q: If you could go back in time, would you have done anything different? If so, what would it be?
A: “I think, I probably would have gone to medical school. But it was the financial aspect. If my parents could have afforded it for me, then yes. But, I love being a nurse. I have been asked this for the last 10-15 years would I ever consider medical school. At this point in time where I’m at, no. But if I could go back in time all over from the beginning, yes. I am going back to school in the summer, as time passes, things do actually come true. I may not be a physician, but at some point you will refer to me as Dr. Ellis, so look at how it all plays out.”
Q: What kind of advice would you give someone who wants to do the same kind of work you do?
A: “One is that you must have a passion for it. You must truly care for people and care for their well-being. But don’t forget to put YOU first. I think in healthcare, we take care of so many people, that we forget to take of ourselves and our families. We forget about us, we are always busy taking care of others…and nurses are notorious for doing that. If you aren’t doing that, that’s how you can lose your passion.”
I must say, in the short amount of time I talked with NP Latrese, I learned so much from her. What inspired me the most about her ability to overcome life’s problems that tried to stand in her way, problems even some people would never face in a lifetime. She did not let them be an excuse to keep her from reaching her dreams and goals. She was the inspiration I wanted to write about in my reflection and this interview taught me to not let anything get in the way of achieving my goals.