Dorcas Guest-Nelson 


This month’s winner: Dorcas Guest-Nelson, School Nurse at Arcadia High

How does it feel to be awarded? 

Oh my gosh! I was super surprised and extremely grateful to be acknowledged in this way. I feel truly honored and seen. 

How long have you been a nurse at Arcadia High? 

I volunteered as a parent in the nurse’s office when my son attended Arcadia in 2009 with Nurse Brenda. In 2015 I became a substitute nurse with the district and took a position at Arcadia in 2018. I have worked as a substitute nurse at Hopi, Kiva, Desert Mountain and Coronado. 

How long have you been in the nursing industry?

Since 2014 – which seems like yesterday! Before that, I had a completely different career in finance and worked as a Registered Representative at Charles Schwab and as a Sr. Registered Client Financial Service Rep at UBS Financial.  

Upon graduating from nursing school, and after my son was born, I worked as an addiction nurse at Community Bridges and then as a behavioral health nurse at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. I learned so much about dealing with adolescents. 

Best part about being a nurse?

My favorite part is assessing my students and putting the pieces together to determine how I can best help. Not everything is Band-Aids and ice, but listening to what’s happening from their viewpoint and seeing their world perspective. Additionally, I get to see students mature over the years, and that truly is a gift to see our children become young adults. My favorite professor told me that I was destined to be in a Public Health setting from day one. I guess she was right!

What’s it like being a nurse in this environment? 

At this point, I feel we have fought the good fight with a virus and are learning to live with it. The past two years have been challenging and frustrating for families and healthcare workers. 

One has to have thick skin to become a nurse because you cannot take things personally, or you cannot do your job. As a parent, I know how frustrating it’s been with the rules, restrictions and inconveniences so I can empathize with parents and students. My co-nurse, Becky Franson, is a sounding board in figuring out “COVID math problems” as we work together. 

What do you struggle with most? 

It used to be telling students that they were in close contact and had to miss so many school days, but the rules have changed. I now struggle with the students’ loss of communication skills and the loss of a year and not getting to know our new students. We started on time in August, but the sophomores missed a normal introduction to freshman year, so it seems like a year just disappeared. 


Where did you grow up? 

I grew up in the beautiful city of Chicago and moved here in 1995. I was watching an episode of 90210 in my dorm room, and Donna (aka Tori Spelling) was Christmas shopping in shorts and a cardigan, and I thought to myself, “Why am I freezing to death each winter in the Midwest and I do not have to be?” and I made a plan to visit and move to L.A. I was expecting it to be like Chicago, and it was not, so when I visited Phoenix a month later and was blown away at how beautiful it was and how easy it was to navigate, I moved here a few years later. 

What is the best part of Arcadia?

The best part of Arcadia is that it is centrally located and feels like a city because we can walk to restaurants and shops. I live a few blocks from LGO, Ingo’s and Postinos, so to walk to these establishments daily gives one that big city feeling.  

When I was younger, I loved to watch Little House on the Prairie, and I was envious that Laura got to attend school with her friends during the week, play with them after school and attend church with them on Sundays. I feel like I have the same experience here in Arcadia, and it’s so awesome to be a part of AHS because I get to work and live within my community, and that truly is priceless.