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Septuagenarian nurse defies age

Age doesn't matter. This is the statement Filipino nurse Juanita Mejia is unconsciously making in the California health care industry as she remains active in her nursing profession at an age many people consider beyond retirement.

At age 73 in 2006, Juanita started working fulltime as a nurse supervisor in a skilled nursing facility in Los Angeles, CA. And she considers an eight-hour shift a day a form of rest, noting that she had consistently held 2-3 jobs up until 2006 when she thought it's probably time to slow down.

Still, Juanita is one that can prove that a person's age shouldn't be an impediment in accomplishing anything — big or small. She still holds the strength, vigor and outlook of a thirty-something nurse who works numerous shifts a week not because she has to but because she wants to share with her patients the beauty of having someone that truly cares.

She completed an associate degree in nursing in 1954, after which she started working in a government hospital in the Northern Philippines. She was granted scholarship by the Philippine government 's Department of Health to pursue Bachelor of Science in Nursing and finished the two-year program in 1975 at the Philippine Women's University.

Juanita has more than 20 years of solid nursing experience in the Philippines where she held various positions — from charge nurse to chief nurse in an emergency hospital in the La Union province.

In 1975, she flew to Tehran, Iran where she worked at a hospital operating room for five years and left when the Iran-Iraq war broke out. She moved to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1981 before migrating to the U.S. in 1983.

Juanita kicked off her career in the U.S. as a Head Start health coordinator handing the students' medical, physical and dental examinations. She was also in charge of keeping track of their vaccination records.

A year after migrating to the U.S., she passed the California Board Examination for Licensed Vocational Nurses and started working double shifts in various acute hospitals in the Los Angeles County as a charge nurse.

At age 60 in 1993, she hurdled NCLEX and became a State Registered Nurse. That was the time she decelerated her professional journey as she transferred from acute hospitals to skilled nursing facilities. She

Juanita, who is turning 80 on Aug. 16, 2014, beams that her greatest achievement in life is — besides probably being one of the oldest active RNs in the profession — is being able to provide education to all six of her children.

She is a proud mother of a U.S. immigration officer, a civil engineer, an architect, a nurse, a pediatrician and an electronics engineer. Her additional source of joy is her 12 grandchildren — six boys and six girls, the eldest of whom is already a doctor specializing in childcare.

Having been blessed with wonderful children and grandkids who are now successful in their respective professions, Juanita never falters at living up to the visions of Florence Nightingale in her consistent delivery of compassionate services to those in need.

Juanita is the modern-day Florence Nightingale who defies many limitations to show that age doesn't really matter when you truly care.

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