Member Highlight: April Odom's journey from medical assistant to nurse practitioner and business owner
April Odom participated in a medical assistant program in high school, and her plan was always to go into nursing.
But then, as it often does, life happened.
Odom had a baby and her career took a wandering road. For six years, she worked as a pharmacy technician. Then she went back to school. Odom was one of 40 students accepted to Malcolm X’s ADN program. She earned her CNA while in nursing school and worked in an in-patient rehabilitation unit. She stayed with the unit when she graduated from Malcolm X in 2008 and worked as a registered nurse.
Odom describes that unit as a shining example of what diversity in the nursing workforce should look like. “Because we were a rehabilitation unit, we collaborated with professionals from a variety of other professions. Beyond that, the unit itself was small but so diverse. We had people from different specialties as well as different backgrounds, nationalities and interests. We were able to learn from one another, collaborate, and take advantage of one another’s different backgrounds and perspectives. Together, that allowed us to take care of the whole patient.”
Mentorship helped her reach higher
Odom had a mentor on the rehab unit, and that mentor encouraged her to continue her education. She went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in nursing online from Jacksonville University, and then went straight on to earn her Master’s in Nursing at Lewis University.
Odom graduated as a nurse practitioner in 2016. After a year spent working in family practice, she opened a business: Physicals Plus, Health and Wellness.
“In the beginning, I continued working full-time and operated the business part-time. Now, it’s more like full-time, full-time,” Odom laughs. “We do health promotion, vitamin therapy, physicals, disease prevention, lifestyle-based weight management and provide house calls to the senior population. Eventually, the goal is to have a full-service family practice clinic with collaboration with multiple specialties and providers.”
Odom credits ISAPN as part of what inspired her to start her own business. “I joined while in NP school after my professor showed a video about being a member. At the time, all I knew was my own tight-knit unit, and I wanted to get out of my comfort zone.”
The opportunities are unlimited
Now, Odom serves as ISAPN’s Vice President.
To others considering becoming an APRN or an ISAPN member, Odom says, “Don’t even hesitate. The opportunities you will have, the things you can do, the places you can go, are unlimited. ISAPN brings you to the forefront of the profession, and APRNs are filling the gaps in access to care. We need you.”“ISAPN has helped me grow and has taught me that together, we are a force. ISAPN fought for and achieved full practice authority for APRNs in Illinois amongst other legislative accomplishments. Being a member has shown me how when we come together, we can make change. Beyond that, being a member has connected me to a network of like-minded professionals from so many different backgrounds. That diversity of ideas and professional support empowered me to reach higher. I started as a medical assistant student and climbed every rung of this ladder one step at a time. Now, I own my own business.”