A patient has her blood pressure checked by a registered nurse practitioner during a checkup in Wellington, Florida.
A patient has her blood pressure checked by a registered nurse practitioner during a checkup in Wellington, Florida. - 
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My Economy tells the story of the new economic normal through the eyes of people trying to make it, because we know the only numbers that really matter are the ones in your economy.


For the latest installment in the series, we hear from Joy O'Brien, who works at a community health clinic in Massachusetts.

I'm Joy O'Brien. I am living in Stow, Massachusetts, in central Mass., and I am a nurse practitioner.

Working in urban environments with very poverty stricken, homeless families, that's kind of my passion area. That's the area that I want to work in. 

I actually grew up in a very stable family but a very poor family. Briefly, we didn't have anywhere to live, too, so I have a deep feeling that I can meet these people with an area of understanding and compassion and not a sense of judgment. 

I've always wanted children. I started buying books at the school book fair when I was 8 and writing notes to my future children, you know, "Oh, I really like this book in third grade. I hope you do too." And I've also always known that I wanted to adopt children. Life circumstances have actually made that an essential, but that's not a blow for me, except for the financial aspect, in that that's an unachievable thing right now. 

We can't afford adoption, and I can't afford not to work full time to pay off my student loans. So I'm paying $2,100 a month in loan repayments, which is about half of my salary. 

I made what seemed like a logical career decision to do something that was fulfilling and meaningful to the world and could make a difference in people's lives. So I can help other people be moms but I can't be a mom myself.

In a perfect world, I would be able to do this and be a mom. And I don't think that it's fair that I have to pick. 

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