Meet Sarah Kim
Sarah Kim, DNP, PMHNP-BC, ARNP, CNL, is a Student Member and recent graduate from the University of Washington DNP—Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.
Sarah recently served on the AAPPN Education Committee. She also served as the AAPPN Student Board member in 2022. She was awarded a Lois Price Spratlen Foundation scholarship for the 2021-22 academic year.
Tell us about your journey to becoming an RN and ARNP. What inspired you to enter the profession? What was your first job? How did you transition into becoming a PMHNP?
My journey into nursing took an unconventional route. In undergrad, I majored in applied human biology and minored in psychology. My heart was set on a healthcare career, but I wasn’t sure which path to take. When graduation rolled around, I had a spot waiting for me in a physical therapy program up in North Dakota. But I decided to hit pause on that because I wanted a career with more options.
That’s when I began looking into nursing. It seemed like the perfect fit – so many specialties and opportunities to explore. Fast forward to 2016, and I’m diving into Pacific Lutheran University’s Entry Level MSN program. The program, tailored for individuals with a non-nursing background, offered an intensive two-year curriculum encompassing both an accelerated RN program and a comprehensive generalist MSN degree. During the program, the clinicals I enjoyed most were critical care because of its fast pace and psychiatry because of the opportunities to connect with patients.
I had the privilege of completing my practicum and my first nursing job at St. Joseph Medical Center’s mental health unit, which was an incredibly enriching experience. I loved my time on the unit and learned so much about working in an interdisciplinary team to support the patient’s treatment goals.
After the unit closed, I continued to work in mental health with inpatient adolescents, community mental health, and a PACT team.
I wanted to become a PMHNP because I wanted a role with more autonomy and knowledge where I could work one-on-one with patients to help them reach their treatment goals.
What do you do at your current job and what is next for you?
I currently work as a clinical instructor with the University of Washington, but recently, I worked at Comprehensive Life Resources as a registered nurse. During my time there, I took on many roles from the outpatient clinic to PACT, where I not only worked as a nurse but also provided training and supervision to new medical staff and created processes to improve efficiency.
Next for me is a one-year fellowship position with University of Washington’s Advanced Practice Psychiatric Provider Fellowship Program – I enjoy systems and processes, and learning how different organizations run mental health programs, so I’m excited to become familiar with the UW system and its different clinical sites.
What do you see as your biggest accomplishment in your life thus far?
The biggest accomplishment in my life was the work I put into developing the clinical flow for outpatient nursing and PACT at Comprehensive Life Resources. I took the job during peak COVID in 2020 when they had no nurse, and I was new to community mental health.
I spent the last few years designing different processes and procedures, creating educational materials, coordinating care, and training and supervising medical staff. I really enjoyed the autonomy and the opportunity to engage in quality improvement.
How has AAPPN play a role in your journey? What keeps you involved in the association?
AAPPN has been great experience for connecting with experienced nurse practitioners in our field and learning about different subspecialties and career options.
I’ve really cherished my time serving on the Board and the Education Committee. Everyone is incredibly friendly and supportive, which makes the whole experience even better. We get to put our heads together and come up with all sorts of fun ideas to engage our members and put on events like the Annual Conference and Master Classes. Our discussions are a mix of insightful and fun, and we also get into the nitty-gritty of topics that really matter to PMHNPs here in Washington State.
What do you do to maintain balance in your personal life, with all this giving we do? For instance, what brings you joy in your spare time?
To maintain balance, I try to separate myself from work when I get home. Usually, I try to head to the gym, and set aside the rest of the evening to spend quality time with my little Pomeranian Remy and my spouse.
When the weekend rolls around, you’ll often find me catching up with friends and exploring different restaurants and cafes. I also really enjoy playing co-op board games, watching anime, and playing video games whenever I have extra time.