ANA Member Highlight Guadalupe Hernandez: A Leader Uniting Nursing Organizations and Shaping the Future

When it comes to mentoring in the nursing field, there is no one who understands the benefits better than Guadalupe (Lupe) Hernandez, a winner of the Illinois Nurses Foundation 40 Under 40 Emerging Nurse Leaders Award. Hernandez, a Care Connections Nurse Practitioner for Molina Healthcare and adjunct professor at Dominican University, is deeply passionate about nursing, both in practice and in the academic setting.

In addition to her nursing career, Hernandez is a thriving entrepreneur. She owns and operates her own life- and leadership-coaching business, with mentoring serving as the focal point of her professional endeavors.

A Driving Force in Nursing Organizations

“It’s a big connection, a big family of nursing organizations coming together.”

Since 2014, Lupe Hernandez has been an active member of ANA-Illinois but her involvement extends beyond ANA, as she has also joined several other nursing organizations. She has previously served on the Illinois Nurses Foundation Board in 2015. She also has held the positions of vice president and president in the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN). NAHN is an organization dedicated to bringing together healthcare professionals of a hispanic background. The organization is dedicated to bringing awareness to the needs of hispanic health professionals. 

Hernandez’s dedication to various nursing organizations was acknowledged when she received the prestigious 2015 Illinois Nurses Foundation 40 Under 40 Award. Not only is this award an honor for any nurse to receive, but Hernandez was a member of the first class to receive it and was the first ever Hispanic nurse to be awarded with a 40 Under 40. Her nomination was put forward by Susan Gonzales, who served as president of NAHN while Hernandez held her position of vice president.

Building Careers Through Personal Connections

Lupe Hernandez has emerged as a prominent leader in the ANA-Illinois nursing community, and she attributes her success to the mentorship of Elizabeth Aquino, the current president of ANA-Illinois. 

“I’ll never forget the day we met.” Hernandez replied when asked about how she met Elizabeth Aquino. 

While working as an ICU nurse at West Suburban, Hernandez first encountered Aquino when she was serving as a professor. During a shadowing experience with one of Aquino’s students, Hernandez found herself attending to a patient who experienced a Code Blue. Aquino and the student walked in at the exact moment of the emergency. Hernandez recalls, “Since then, we really developed a friendship and a professional relationship. She pushed me to be ambitious and inspired me to get out and get involved in everything.”

Personal relationships play a crucial role in advancing careers in the nursing profession, and ANA-Illinois places a strong emphasis on mentorship within nursing.

“Elizabeth inspired me to assume the role of president in NAHN and become a member of INF. It was through her guidance that I expanded my involvement within the ANA-Illinois organization.”

Lupe is following Elizabeth’s lead today. Because of the inspiration the mentor provided her, Lupe has become president of NAHN, and become an active board member of INF. Elizabeth’s encouragement helped push Lupe into taking risks and chances with her career and is also inspiring her to help others do the same. 

From Nursing Studies to Empowering Careers

Lupe Hernandez and her son Maximo at her graduation from Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and Johns Hopkins Carey Business School

While completing her nursing studies at Johns Hopkins University, Hernandez had the opportunity to participate in a free leadership coaching program through Wisdom of the Whole. During which she discovered that she has a true passion for helping others. Finding the program inspiring, Lupe dedicated two years to working with leadership coaching at Johns Hopkins, and ultimately made the decision to pursue it as her career.

Studying nursing is stressful. “Doing a dual degree program, even one that you are passionate about, is tiring. Mental health is important, especially as a healthcare professional. I wanted to start my career right, so I took some time off to take care of myself.” Hernandez took the year off after she completed her studies, then embarked on the gradual process of building her life and career coaching business. She recalls, “I slowly started engaging in conversations about what I do and began taking on clients.”

Her business goals are centered around assisting individuals in becoming leaders within their respective fields and challenging the prevailing perception of what a leadership and career coach truly entails.

Hernandez also addressed common misconceptions surrounding leadership coaching. “One misconception is that a coach will come in and provide all the answers, pointing out what you’re doing wrong or what you need to do to fix it. In reality, our role is to act as a mirror, helping individuals identify incongruencies or cognitive dissonance within themselves.”

A Testament to Mentorship and Personal Connections in Advancing Nursing Careers

Mentoring plays a crucial role in the nursing profession, providing invaluable support and guidance to aspiring nurses as well as those already established in their careers. Lupe Hernandez exemplifies the power of mentorship, personal connections, and passion in the nursing profession. 

The mentor-mentee relationship fosters the transfer of knowledge, skills, and professional values from experienced nurses to novice or less-experienced nurses. ANA-Illinois knows how important the relationship between mentor and mentee is. Mentoring in nursing not only enhances clinical skills but also promotes personal and professional growth. Mentors serve as role models, inspiring mentees to strive for excellence and guiding them in setting and achieving career goals. Even before the official start of the mentor-mentee program, Elizabeth Aquino and Lupe Hernandez were taking advantage of the mentor mentee relationship ANA-Illinois can provide. 

Today, Lupe is paying it forward with her life- and career-coaching business. By helping nurses find what they value the most in their profession, and planning their career around that, Hernandez is helping nurses achieve their goals. Beyond just career coaching, Lupe also helps her clients make lasting positive health changes by not only educating them, but providing a support system where they feel capable of helping themselves. By fostering a supportive and nurturing environment, mentoring contributes to the retention and job satisfaction of nurses, ultimately improving the quality of patient care.