When Marisol Ramos-Armstrong was in kindergarten in Fort Stockton, TX, her teacher
told everyone in the class to write down in a Big Chief tablet what they wanted to
be when they grew up. Twelve years later when Marisol graduated from Fort Stockton
High School, her kindergarten teacher gave her the same piece of paper that she had
laminated. It read, “When I grow up, I want to be a nurse.”
Marisol made good on her word to become a nurse. Today she is a nurse practitioner
working in primary care for Synergy Integrative Medical Clinic in Midland. She got
to where she is today through a long series of educational steps and career growth.
“There were four children in my family, and I was the 2nd-oldest child,” Marisol said.
“My mother suffered from a debilitating illness, and from the time I was 5 or 6
years old, I had to take care of her. It was my job to make sure she took her medications.
My mother rarely left the house. My oldest sister and I would go to PTA meetings
for our younger siblings and sit in the back of the room because we wanted our family
to be represented. My grandmother lived nearby and helped with meals and laundry.
My father worked long hours. At the time I didn’t realize it, but I had a lot of
adult responsibilities at an early age.”
In 1988, Marisol moved to Midland, and in the early 1990s, when she was 25, she received
her certificate in Vocational Nursing from Midland College. While she was taking
classes, her son was a small child and she had her 2nd child—a daughter. Then, in
1998, she completed Midland College’s Vocational Nursing to Associate Degree Nursing
Transition program in order to begin become a Registered Nurse.
“I was pregnant with my third child right before I entered the last semester of the
nursing transition program,” Marisol recalled. “I begged my OBGYN to induce labor
so that I could start classes. I had my son a couple of days before classes began,
but I was there on the first day of school!
“Most of the time while I was at Midland College, I was a single mother and had to
work in order to provide for my family. My mother also lived with me, and I continued
caring for her during the last 20 years of her life. When I was taking LVN courses,
I worked on the weekends as a Pharmacy Tech at Walgreen’s. While I was in the Associate
Degree Nursing program, I worked in Home Healthcare as an LVN and was on call every
weekend from 8:00 pm on Friday until 8:00 am on Monday.
“I couldn’t have done it without the support I received from the faculty and staff
at Midland College. They helped me get scholarships, loaned me textbooks and helped
me obtain financial assistance so my two oldest children could attend the Midland
College Children’s Center. Everyone at the college was inspirational and encouraging.
Had it not been for the Midland College employees, I probably would have given up.
I particularly remember Kay Floyd, the secretary in the Nursing Department. She
After she graduated from Midland College with an Associate of Applied Science Degree
in Nursing, Marisol worked as a Registered Nurse at Midland Memorial Hospital for
over 10 years.
“While I was working at the hospital, a colleague who worked for Texas Oncology said
that they needed someone to teach chemotherapy classes in Spanish,” she said. “So,
I started teaching the classes. I was still working at the hospital, but also worked
in various departments for Texas Oncology in both Midland and Odessa until I became
a full-time nurse to one of the oncologists Dr. Ashutosh Rastogi. I worked for him
at Texas Oncology for about 18 years.
“I really loved working with cancer patients. They are so resilient. One of the
advantages about being an oncology nurse is that I really got to know the patients
and their families. They enriched my life and empowered what I do as a nurse. I
learned about their children and grandchildren, past trips they took and what they
were looking forward to when they got healthy again. Cancer patients are amazing
people; many of them go through a self-discovery process during their chronic illness,
and I’m so glad I was there to help them.”
Marisol said that Dr. Rastogi was instrumental in encouraging her to continue her
education. Having lived in rural West Texas as a child, she became interested in
rural health and obtained a master’s degree in Rural Health & Education from Texas
Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC).
“I even got to go back to Midland College and teach a class as part of my clinical
training,” she said.
After obtaining her first master’s degree, she completed a post-master’s degree in
Gerontological Nurse Practitioner at TTHUSC., and then continued to complete another
master’s degree in Adult/Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner from the University
of Texas Arlington.
Approximately five years ago, Dr. Rastogi transferred to preventative care for cancer
and disease prevention. He and his wife Dr. Anjana Rastogi started Synergy Integrative
Medical Clinic in Midland, and Marisol began working there as a nurse practitioner.
She now sees patients as a primary care provider.
“Our practice is focused on functional/integrative medicine,” Marisol explained. “We
want to get to the root cause of the problem and try to fix it so that our patients
can stay in the best health possible, continue to be productive and contribute to
their family and communities and prevent premature death. We still see some of our
cancer patients from Texas Oncology who are now in remission. It’s wonderful to be
able to celebrate their lives with them.
“I try to get to know all my patients. It’s important for me to listen to their story.
It’s hard to develop a plan of care for someone if I don’t know a little about them.
For example, I’ve had female patients who are sleeping on the street. Before they
can focus on physical wellness, they need to be able to feel safe.”
Marisol said that this is the best time of her life. Her children are grown—her oldest
son Fernando is a business entrepreneur; her daughter Marisa is a dentist in Midland;
and her youngest son Adrian is an engineer. Both Marisa and Adrian also began their
higher education at Midland College.
Marisol enjoys spending time with her grandchildren. This past March, she married
Danny Armstrong, who is a retired rural West Texas public school administrator. The
couple have a home in Marathon, TX, and they enjoy getting away to the peacefulness
of small-town life occasionally. Marisol also enjoys reading, taking walks, exploring
nature and cooking.
In addition to working at Synergy Integrative Medical Clinic, Marisol shares her healthcare
knowledge and skills with the community. On October 28, she is leading a Community
Health Fair in Spanish at Templo Jerusalem in Midland.
“I never regretted writing that I wanted to be a nurse in that Big Chief tablet,”
she said. “My journey to get to this point in my life hasn’t been easy; however,
I’ve had some really great mentors. When I talk to young women about entering the
nursing profession, I tell them that it takes perseverance. It’s important to have
a goal, even if you have to achieve that goal in increments, like I did. I have an
amazing career and God has truly blessed me with the opportunity to meet so many special
people who are and have been my patients.”