BU News

Brandman faculty member’s book guides nurses to the next steps of their careers

August 06, 2018 by Cathi Douglas
Sonia Luckey

Assistant Professor Sonia Luckey

Sonia Luckey always knew she wanted to heal the human body. As a child she pored over Reader’s Digest stories about the body’s mechanisms, considering ways to cure patient illnesses.

“I read every single one of them and fell in love with the workings of the human body,” she remembers. “When I got a job taking people to their appointments in the hospital, I watched the nurses and what they were doing and I knew nursing was my calling.”

In nursing school, Luckey began to understand the hidden cultural, spiritual and psychological issues that can affect patient wellness. She also discovered her passion for teaching and for guiding nurse practitioners like herself toward personal and professional success.

During her career, she has served as a chaplain at Hoag Hospital in Irvine, as a nurse in a trauma center and emergency room, and in private practice coaching health clients and nursing students. She often employs state-of-the-art telemedicine technology to consult with her patients.

“You can go anywhere when you are a nurse,” Luckey notes. “As you proceed with your career, nursing takes on so much more meaning. I tell my students, ‘it’s an incredibly mind-blowing experience realizing you can change the world.’

“It is like watching a pebble cause a ripple in a stream to see the ways they will influence health care, systems, and patient care.”

Statistics confirm nursing’s burgeoning growth, she adds. “The field is growing so fast that it’s expected to expand by 20 percent by 2020, a pace well above the national average for job growth.” Without enough physicians to provide primary care, nurse practitioners fill the gap because they often practice autonomously in regions with few doctors, she says.

The assistant professor in the Brandman University's Marybelle and S. Paul Musco School of Nursing and Health Professions recently wrote a book aimed at shepherding graduate students through the complex process that every nurse practitioner must navigate to become a full-fledged practicing nurse practitioner.

“The Accomplished NP: Path to Professional Practice” is an independently published, five-star-rated guide available in paperback at Amazon.com. It reflects Luckey’s interests in mentoring students and her work integrating holistic healing and alternative medicine into nursing practice.

Even after 25 years in practice as a nurse practitioner, Luckey found the process of certification and credentialing complex and bewildering, so she determined to help others successfully navigate the certification system. “It’s a huge process dealing with all different kinds of agencies,” she says. “Somebody said, ‘you should write this down.’ I had been processing my stress by journaling, and that became the basis for the book.”

As she wrote the guide book, Luckey acknowledged that medicine is ever-changing.  “There are many things that impact people’s ability to heal and their ability to be part of their own health care. An understanding of family dynamics and psychological background can inform our approach to the patient’s chief complaints and concerns,” said Luckey.

Asking questions outside the scope of ordinary practice can help nurses focus on the bigger picture for patients and can yield a health plan that encompasses different facets of the patient’s life, she adds. “If someone comes in with an earache, you can treat it and be done,” she says. “Or you can ask what the rest of their life is like to see if stressors or nutrition may be a factor. What I know is that it’s all interrelated and all the little pieces are very important. If we take care of them now, we can keep the patient from having other problems in the future.”

An alumna of Brandman’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program, Luckey also holds a master’s degree in spiritual psychology from the University of Santa Monica and a Master of Science in nursing from Cal State Long Beach. She is board-certified in three specialty areas: family nurse practitioner, advanced holistic nurse, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner and serves as Clinical Scholarly Project chair to assist doctoral students in research projects.

She is an Orange County chapter leader of the American Holistic Nurses Association. As traditional medicine recognizes the validity and importance of holistic medicine and alternative practices, it becomes more common to entwine the two different philosophies into nursing practice. Because she earned multiple degrees, credentials and certifications in traditional medicine, Luckey’s work outside its confines gains credibility.

“In a holistic mindset, we recognize that people are more than their physical bodies,” she notes. “We comprise the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical aspects, and medicine is incomplete if it addresses only the physical part of what is going on with a patient.”

She calls herself a “soul-centered professional” and takes pride in her ability to connect powerfully with people in both private and group settings using prayer and cultural practices well outside the realm of traditional Western medicine.

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