Schuster Sees More Than She Saw in Herself
The expectation of saying, “I do,” is that getting married will be a life-changing experience. What Jeanette Schuster didn’t expect, however, was the influence that her husband would have on the transformation of her career.
Born and raised in the Philippines, Schuster immigrated to the United States in 2003 with a fiancé visa. She got married to her husband in Michigan, where they lived for four years and started a family. After a promotion took them to Florida, they eventually decided their family was better suited for the Midwest and the Schusters relocated to St. Louis. Because both of their children have special needs, a school district with a strong special education program was a requirement for where they’d raise their family. The Parkway School District met their needs, and Schuster worked as a dietary aide for the district while her kids were in school.
Once Schuster’s children got older, it was time to start thinking about their future, which meant it was time for her to secure a better job. Her bachelor’s degree in IT from the Philippines didn’t transfer the way she had hoped. Schuster wanted a more flexible career option for her family’s schedule but struggled with what career to choose.
It was the words of her husband, Joe, that set her on the path to becoming a registered nurse: “You have always had such a caring personality.”
“He saw more in me than I saw in myself,” she said. “He felt I had it in me to be a nurse, I just hadn’t had the opportunity to pursue it yet.”
Along with seeing her care for their children, Joe knew that she took care of her mother, who suffered from end-stage kidney failure in the Philippines before Jeanette immigrated. Schuster’s caring nature, combined with the schedule flexibility, good pay and job security, lead her to the pursue nursing at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley.
After completing the prerequisites, Schuster applied to the BSN program at Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College, but she was waitlisted for the program. Not wanting to lose any newly acquired skills while she waited, Schuster discovered the patient care technician accelerated job training pathway at STLCC and immediately enrolled.
Patient care technicians (PCTs) work alongside nurses, physicians and other healthcare professionals to provide direct patient care under nursing supervision in a hospital setting. Typical work activities include attending to patients’ comfort, hygiene and meals; checking temperatures and vital signs; helping patients keep their room and beds clean; assisting with patient mobility; and reporting any changes in patients’ demeanor or agility to the nurses or physicians on duty.
The PCT program appealed to Schuster because it was paid training that came with BJC benefits. She was also guaranteed a job after training, and was able to see what nursing was going to be like by working side-by-side with nurses. The experience she received made her a top candidate for a full-time PCT position on the high-risk cardiology floor at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, where she later switched to part time once she was accepted into the nursing program at Goldfarb.
While her floor at Barnes-Jewish Hospital hasn’t changed, her role definitely has. In October 2021, Schuster passed her boards with ease and became a registered nurse. She was grateful to get her introduction to healthcare through the PCT program at STLCC, which allowed her to see firsthand how nurses perform their jobs. It also made the transition from PCT to RN a lot easier.
When Schuster thinks back to all the other professions she could have ended up in that wouldn’t have worked so well for her family, she’s grateful her husband spoke up to let her know she’s always had it in her to become a nurse. Her altruistic nature has led her to a long-term goal of becoming a nurse educator, using her experience to be the go-to for nurses and passing knowledge on to her team.
But for right now, Schuster is all about her patients.
“I love to see my name on the patient compliment board,” she said. “Since I work nights, it’s rewarding to have patients give me the praise that is usually reserved for the day nurses. It’s great to be remembered for my excellent care.”