Danica – Ella Pantoja

Nurse Practitioner

I first enrolled in undergraduate school thinking that I wanted to become an accountant and pursue the career of a CPA.  I excelled in math and it came easy for me.   However, after a year of accounting prerequisites, I found myself bored and completely indifferent towards all my accounting subjects.  So I dug deeper.  It didn’t take me long to realize my true passion, my drive to learn about life at all ages.  People.  What I learned and had not known at the time, was that my persona, my character, exuded empathy, care, and the thrill for science and nature of nursing and medicine.  I can recall my mom disapproving my pursuance of becoming a nurse as she heard stories of nurses literally breaking their backs because of their work, but what she didn’t understand was how rewarding it feels to care for an individual and their families.  When my grandmother had gotten old enough to start needing the doctor more frequently for all her aches and pains, I attended her appointments, tried to understand the aging process.  But there was only so much I could do, as I had not even gotten into nursing school yet.  So the little things mattered to my grandmother: buying her crossword puzzles, buying her colored pencils, buying her plants to tend for, watching Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy with her, admiring her stamp collection, filling her compress with hot water for her headaches (which she would also fill for me for my bellyaches), ensuring she had Tylenol for Arthritis or Salonpas for her pains.  Little did I know these were all therapeutic interventions listed in my nursing books.  And I loved it.  It came as second nature to me and brought me joy and fulfillment.  I wanted to be a nurse, and in fact, as a nurse practitioner I want to do as much as I can to provide high-quality and best-practice care for individuals who need it. 

As part of an extraordinary team specializing in psychiatry, behavioral health and wellness, and physical medicine and rehabilitation, my focus is to support and deliver quality medical care and attention for residents in assisted-living communities with goals that strongly align with the patient’s, family’s, and team’s values.

I completed my Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA.  After 10 years of nursing experience in both hospital, outpatient, and managerial services, I furthered my career and obtained my Master’s of Science degree in Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) at Simmons College in Boston, MA. As an FNP, I have practiced with a nephrology group serving dialysis patients in the VA/MD/DC area as well as an Internal Medicine group serving post-acute rehabilitation and long-term care residents.  I am a proud team member of Lightyear Health and look forward to working together through life’s journeys.  

Originally from Northern Virginia, I recently moved out to San Diego, CA to better fit my lifestyle and to take advantage of the beautiful weather.  I enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, jogging, yogalates, dog walks in the park, snorkeling, attending local events, and am willing to try pretty much anything at least once when it comes to activities and food! I am also an avid reader, puzzler, tv/movie viewer, and dog snuggler.