Photo courtesy of CSULA.
Mira Castaneda, a Filipino immigrant and chief of Patient Care Services at the VA Long Beach Healthcare System, was one of only nine nursing doctoral candidates hooded during Cal State Los Angeles’ (CSULA) commencement ceremony Thursday.
The Lakewood resident said she knew from a young age that she wanted to be a nurse. Having other family members who were in the nursing field allowed her to see the contributions they made and wanted to be a part of that, CSULA officials stated.
“Nurses can make a difference in people’s lives,” Castaneda, 46, previously stated.
A student in the Southern California CSU Doctor of Nursing Practice Consortium—a program that allows students to earn their doctoral degree in nursing practice at CSULA and two other CSU schools—Castaneda is also a recipient of a prestigious Jonas Nurse Scholar award, which recognizes students committed to improving the care of veterans, officials stated.
Castaneda earned her bachelor’s degree in the Philippines before coming to the United States. She began working for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in 2006 and earned her master’s degree in nursing from University of Phoenix in 2009. She was promoted to chief of Patient Care Services in 2009.
She said it’s fulfilling to help improve the quality of life for patients who have sacrificed for their country, according to school officials.
“It’s so heartwarming and meaningful when you’re working with people who have contributed to the freedom of this country,” Castaneda said.
While at the VA, she helped develop a uniform system for staff members that allows patients to better identify who to ask for assistance based on uniform color, officials stated. Castaneda said the system has helped patients be more comfortable around nursing staff and has smoothed the flow of the facility. She is currently working on a project to prevent patients from falling down, injuring themselves and rapidly declining their health. Her doctoral project focuses on her work to prevent patients from falling, according to officials.
“First I want to prevent future falls and then get it so we have zero falls,” Castaneda said. “That’s the goal.”
For Castaneda, her doctorate in nursing has had the biggest impact on her career thus far.
“If I had a chance to do it again I would have the same decision,” she said. “Because of what I have learned at Cal State LA I can now connect all the dots of my skills and knowledge and translate it to my practice.”
Castaneda is a member of the Nurse Executive Council and Executive Leadership Board. She is nationally certified as a nurse executive by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.