Dr. Elizabeth Ibarra, Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), set her eyes on a goal early on in her life: to open her own clinic.
Now, in the LA area, Elizabeth is realizing that dream. From when she began as a certified nursing assistant at 16 to graduating with her doctorate last year, she credits her determination as the reason she is now reaching her goal.
“I knew what I wanted to do,” Elizabeth says. “I stayed on my A-game. I come from an underprivileged background so I didn’t have a lot of mentorship. I struggled to get to where I am now.”
Elizabeth came from an underserved community that lacked resources to help her become successful. As a result, she entered college without valuable skills and struggled with a low GPA her freshman year. To catch up, she had to take extra courses during summer and winter sessions.
She did not find a mentor until her master’s program, which made her realize the significance of mentorship. Because of her own struggles, Elizabeth founded Scrub Life Society, a program aimed at bringing resources, mentorship and networking to underserved communities.
“Mentorship is one of the key foundations for really setting up an individual to reach not only their goals, but to go above and beyond,” Elizabeth says. “You see yourself from a different point of view. Seeing an outsider’s point of view, you’re able to achieve greater and higher than you ever thought possible.”
Elizabeth is inspired to bring these resources to communities because she feels she could have made better choices and reached her goals sooner if she had received a mentor herself when she was younger.
“What I found people need the most is motivation,” Elizabeth says. “They know what they want to do. They just lack that extra push, so I wanted to be that extra push for people.”
In addition to encountering issues due to a lack of mentorship, Elizabeth has faced difficulties as a result of a lack of understanding of the Hispanic culture in the medical field.
“Being a Latina in a male-dominated field and [having] just very [few] minorities in the medical field, I would say it was a little bit of a culture shock for me because the Hispanic culture is different when coming into a professional setting,” Elizabeth says. “Meshing the best of both worlds was a little bit of a challenge. I was raised in a predominantly Hispanic community and the way we do things is a little bit different.”
Although Elizabeth has found that some people do not appreciate the cultural differences she brings to the job, she has made it a priority to get involved and make her voice heard.
“Some people didn’t like that I did bring some of those cultural differences into the workplace, but I was able to navigate around them,” Elizabeth says. “I was able to open up to people and shine bright and really bring who I am and my authentic self to the workplace.”
In the medical field, she has found that some people discredit her abilities as a result of her ethnicity. Her experiences in the workplace have inspired her to advocate for minorities.
“Minority advocacy is needed,” she says. “There are very [few] of us who actually stand up and say what needs to be heard. I like to be the voice for what I call ‘the little people.’”
To motivate herself and achieve her goals, Elizabeth has made it a habit to write what she envisions herself doing or becoming on her mirror with a dry-erase marker each week. She suggests that other women do the same.
“Don’t let anyone tell you no, even if that person is yourself,” she says.
As she moves forward, Elizabeth hopes to expand her own clinic as well as Scrub Life Society, and she would like to find more ways to incorporate holistic health into medicine.
“‘She can be both,’ to me, means that you are not only composed of one person,” Elizabeth says. “You don’t have to have one identity. There are so many components of you that make up you, and you’re not just that one thing. ‘She can be both’ means you get to be the best of both worlds.”