Wrapping It All Up—What It Means To Be a Nurse
A JOB is just a job without meaning. Marybeth Gabriel wraps things up nicely: "I switched to nursing after graduating with a Bachelor's in Health Science. Most of the jobs that I looked into required a nursing degree. I thought, "Why not? I'll just keep going to school." I had done my internship for my bachelor's in cardiac rehab with nurses and had loved that, so I assumed that I would love nursing as well. The thing about the nursing is that it's hard. It's time-consuming, you lose sleep, you study more than you've ever studied for anything in your life, you take care of some of the sickest people you've ever seen, and you learn a lot of life lessons. It's the most rewarding thing that you could do, and I love it."
Both students and seasoned nurses share what it means for them to be a nurse (and some helpful survival tips). They all took the gloves off; you will read about the bad with the good, the tears and the triumphs, the pain and the joys. Most of all you'll read that despite the late-night studying, the mountains of paperwork, and the hectic schedules, knowing that you make a difference in people's lives every day is what nursing really means.
My Journey as a Nursing Student, by Amy Carbone
When I was just 17, a senior in high school, I discovered that I was pregnant. I was excited but scared, I knew that I wanted to provide a hopeful and promising life for my unborn child. Throughout my pregnancy I got to interact with several nurses who were compassionate, caring, and committed to my health and care. This is when I discovered I wanted to be a nurse. After graduating from high school I enrolled in college to begin my career. I found it challenging to balance being a full-time mother, fiancée, daughter, and student. I learned how to manage time and ask for help, even when I didn't want to. Thankfully, I had a strong support group of people who wanted to see me succeed. I never thought I would enjoy school, until I started the nursing program. The friendships I have made are everlasting, and the people I have met along the way are nothing short of inspiring. Aside from my professors, who have all been amazing role models, the patients, the direct care, the trust each individual client grants you is a feeling that words can't describe. I would have never imagined that complete strangers can bring tears to your eyes as you watch them go through an illness, form bonds with these patients, and understand that they are not just patients—they are people. People who feel pain, who suffer, who cry, who get embarrassed; these people have kept me wanting to be a nurse. These individuals have kept me committed to my ultimate goal, in the hope that I will meet more like them in the future. I find the workload demanding and difficult at times, and sometimes I feel guilty that I'm not there all the time with my daughter. It's taken me a while, but I've learned how to do it all, be a mother, a fiancée, a student, and a friend—and eventually, an excellent nurse.
An Honorable Profession, by Caitlin Van Brunt
Being a nurse is honorable and rewarding, to say the least. Nurses must be vigilant at all times; their days will never be boring and are filled with unexpected surprises. They must be tremendously knowledgeable about every aspect of their patient, and be prepared for any situation. Nurses have grave responsibilities throughout their day and must balance their hectic personal lives as wives, husbands, mothers, and fathers with a tedious and overwhelming daily workload. This profession truly is a full-time job of caring for others. Nurses carry their caring personalities into all parts of their lives. Nursing is one career that is worked for from the beginning of student nursing until the day a well-seasoned nurse retires. Coming home from a day of work is extremely fulfilling.
Almost everyone knows a nurse. When a nurse is asked about his or her day, even the best attempt to describe it will not serve any justice to what the nurse really does all day. Even the smallest efforts of a nurse yield big outcomes. She or he may have made the day easier for a new nurse, helped a post-op patient take the first steps with a newly replaced knee, taught a patient how to give herself medications, prevented a medication error of the doctor or pharmacy to ensure a patient's safety, helped deliver a baby and instill confidence into new parents, sat at the bedside of a newly diagnosed cancer patient attending chemotherapy for the first time, advocated on behalf of the patient with other members of a disciplinary team, and thought critically about the patient every step of the way. The nurse is undoubtedly the backbone of the hospital. He is the "go to" person, the one everyone knows will care about the patient as a whole. So, describing to someone that a nurse has passed medications, or helped someone to the bathroom during the day, does not suffice as a true explanation of what was really done in one day of nursing. The nurse is constantly anticipating challenges and problems and intervening to ensure the safety of the patient and quality care, while having the utmost concern for the patient and his family. It is not every day people can come home from work and feel they have truly accomplished something, but it certainly is every day that nurses an come home and say they have changed someone's life. This is truly an honorable profession.
The Right Choice, by Christina Haggerty
My decision to become a nurse will forever be a choice made for me. Not a day goes by when I don't think, "What the heck did I get myself into? Do I really want to be a nurse?" In my times of worrying how much I might not have what it takes, I remind myself of days past. Days where patients' simple words of encouragement and gratitude touched my life are more than the fading memories of time I spent at their bedside.
The Best Two Years of My Life, by Alexandra Karlgut
There comes a point in everyone's life when it is time to choose a career. At 20 years of age I was accepted into a nursing program. Never in my life have I been so challenged in all aspects—mental, social, emotional, spiritual, and even physical. The extremely long study hours coupled with traveling to clinical and night classes have only made me a stronger person. At the end of the day I wanted to give up because it seemed impossible to get everything done and still manage to get a little sleep and time with family. Honestly, it has been the hardest two years of my life. I am pretty sure I cried at least every other day; however, these years have been the most rewarding. I would remember how thankful a new mother was for teaching her about signs and symptoms of infection to watch for in her newborn baby; how an elderly man laughed at my cheesy jokes and told me that I made his day; and how a simple smile can touch a person's heart deeper than anyone can imagine.
Not only has my nursing program university provided me with great clinical and class experience but it has also given me the opportunity of a lifetime. This opportunity was to travel to another country. I went to the Dominican Republic with faculty and five other students. When I came back I realized that every country has its own unique needs; however, there should be universal standards of healthcare. These standards should guide healthcare professionals in providing the best possible care for the patients within their own unique setting and culture. Sending students and faculty to these developing countries helped them to come one baby step closer to improving their own system and embracing universal standards of care with each passing day. I also recognized that missionaries and medical teams should not alter the system but can empower natives to learn, to pass on that learning to others, and progress to a higher level of knowledge, understanding, and healthcare delivery.
I need to mention that nursing became my life and a part of who I am today. Not a day goes by that I don't think about those poor children in the Dominican, or the time I spent in the hospital, all the different things I have seen, and all the wonderful people I have met as a student nurse. I have learned so much and I have my professors and clinical instructors to thank. I also have my family, my future husband, and my friends to thank. Without this support system it would have been more difficult to get to where I am today.
Going Greek and Gearing Up for Nursing, by Andrea Randrup
As a 19-year-old nursing sophomore, I have to admit that growing up I always had a "Doctors are greater than nurses" mentality. However, after getting older, hearing the feedback from other health professionals, and experiencing the environment firsthand through volunteer work, I gained a new respect for nurses. I came to realize that they are the backbone of the hospital because they care for the patient holistically.
Being a Filipino American, I grew up with a lot of parental and cultural influences. My parents both worked at hospitals and so urged me to go into the medical field as well. In the Philippines, where poverty is high and education isn't universally accessible, receiving a college education is a privilege. The goal is to choose a path that will benefit not just yourself but others around you. Hence, why nursing is such a popular course. To many Filipinos, the chance of becoming a nurse opens many doors of opportunity, leading them out of an unfavorable lifestyle and into a job that can provide. With nursing always in demand, being a nurse allows many Filipinos to emigrate and work abroad.
Going into college, I knew I wanted to go into a health profession—and not completely due to my family's input. I believe I have a calling to help those in need and I can truly see myself being a caretaker. I didn't know whether to go the biology route or the nursing route. In the end, I applied to be a nursing student. I figured I can always continue on to medical school with nursing as my undergraduate major or at least pursue a higher degree in nursing—hopefully, becoming a nurse practitioner or even going into a new program I heard about in which I could receive a doctorate of nursing. I'll have to see after the next two years, though, considering I have yet to take genuine nursing courses.
College life has been pretty manageable so far. I'm a member of a couple of organizations on campus and still manage to keep up with my work and find time for myself. I joined Kappa Phi Lambda, an Asian-interest sorority, in my freshman year and have found that being in the Greek life comes with many preconceptions. Because of the media, Greeks are typically portrayed as the socialites of the campus who do nothing but party it up and drink it down. I've accepted that as an assumption some people will make about me but I'd like to set the record straight. Being in a sorority or fraternity is all up to the individual who joins it. Greek life is what you make of it and there are many more pros to outbalance the cons movies and television programs have placed on them. Being in a sorority has helped me manage my time better; it's helped me form bonds with other undergraduates in my major as well as alumni who are now nurses in the real world; it's allowed me to understand that responsibility comes with some sacrifice; that the needs of the whole should always be on my mind; and yes, as cheesy as it sounds, it's a group of girls I can relate to on different levels. It's true that Greeks can have fun but we hold ourselves to a very important principle of academic excellence, too. Personally, I understand that I attend a university and my parents work hard to pay my tuition in order for me to receive a good education, and there are many other students who are able to balance extracurricular activities with classwork. I just want others to know that being Greek does not mean you have to throw away your study habits.
Again, of course, I have yet to experience what nursing truly has in store for me and I have a semester left to hone my time management skills and tendency to procrastinate. I said I make time for my work and get things done but sometimes it happens the night before or a couple minutes before they're due. Haha, I am human after all.
What It Is Like to Be a Student Nurse, by Ashley French
Have you ever heard the saying, "Take a break from having a life, become a nursing student"? That pretty much sums up the workload end of being a nursing student. On a more serious note, being a nursing student is challenging, stressful, and demanding, but it is also very rewarding. The journals become tedious and the care plans become repetitive, but it is worth all of the work when your patient says, "Thank you, you helped me feel better today."
In order to get my point across, I am describing one of my clinical days. It was my first day giving medications in my Adult Health I clinical. My professor hadn't known me very well, and I wanted to prove that I knew my medications and that I had picked up efficient nursing skills from my summer externship. I was just introducing myself to my patient as my professor walked into the room. My patient had been very angry over a conversation she had with the primary nurse, and had been taking her frustrations out on me. Unprepared for such a situation, I panicked for a short moment, collected my thoughts, and managed to successfully calm down my patient. After the morning chaos, my patient had opened up to me and apologized for the way she had acted. I spent much of the day with her. She had an extensive list of medications and needed wound care on both of her lower extremities. She also needed point-of-cares, breathing treatments, and to be ambulated. After a busy day of clinical, I returned to my patient's room to let her know that I was leaving. To my surprise, she became upset and told me that she wanted to talk to me. As I had done throughout the day, I sat down to listen to my patient. She told me that she had admired my patience and eagerness to learn. She then gave me the best compliment a nursing student could get, and told me that I was going to be an excellent nurse.
Likes and Dislikes, by Ashley Panaro
Being a student nurse has been an exciting and scary experience. During my years of schooling, I have had some likes and dislikes. The items that I liked were that I met a lot of good friends and encountered many different situations. The amount that I have learned in the last four years has been more intense and exciting than any other schooling I have done. I also enjoyed the freedom the professors give you once they are certain of your abilities. You are able to care for patients and gain experience because you are treated like you are an actual nurse.
The items that I disliked about being a student nurse were as follows. Some of the coursework was grueling and difficult to keep up with. There were times when I felt as though I would never succeed. Also, being a student nurse, despite what I mentioned earlier, you are treated as though you do not know anything. At these times you feel as though your school was for nothing. There are not a lot of things that I dislike about being a student nurse. It is definitely one of the most promising decisions I have ever made, and I have learned a lot from it.
Finding My Niche, by Essie Lee
The experience I had working as a secretary during the summer after my freshman year solidified my decision to become a nurse. Because I was working full-time, I quickly developed a close relationship with my coworkers. One fellow employee (whom I shall refer to as M) in particular changed my perspective on life and health care. M was a single mother with one child and no financial support from her family. Despite the fact that she was unable to speak English, she had spent all her money on travel expenses from Mexico to New York City. Her duties were to keep the place tidy and to empty the wastebaskets on a daily basis. One particular day while she was completing her usual tasks, she cut herself on a razor during an attempt to remove the trash. M was bleeding profusely and her cut was deep enough that the wound would require several stitches to stop the bleeding. But surprisingly, many of our coworkers were reluctant to help, because it turned out that M was an illegal immigrant. None of the employees wanted to assist her with seeking medical attention because they were concerned about colliding with the law due to her immigration status. The mere fact that someone was severely injured and others did not want to help made me realize that perhaps there may be others in the same predicament as M, people in dire need of medical attention but unable to seek it due to their low income or immigration status. These five minutes redefined my definition of a nurse, someone who gives full and utmost care to a patient regardless of his or her race, ethnicity, financial, and immigration status. It does not matter who is injured, only that someone is injured and is in desperate need of medical attention.
When I returned to school that following fall semester to begin my sophomore year, I was motivated more than ever to become a nurse. I began to take all the prerequisites required prior to starting the nursing program. I decided to take both winter and summer classes to complete all the required courses in time. Once I had begun taking my core nursing courses during my junior year, I started searching for a summer externship to experience the many different fields that nursing had to offer. Luckily, I discovered my niche at a hospital that was funded by the government in New York City. Because it was a public hospital, immigration status and medical insurance were not questioned when the patients arrived. But what further enhanced my determination to become a nurse was my placement at a hospice unit within the externship. Prior to the externship, I was unaware that palliative care existed in nursing. At first I had difficulty adjusting to the idea of caring for a patient when death was imminent, rather than aggressively treating a patient to avoid death. But the nurses taught me to see that the patient would be resting in comfort during his or her remaining time. They allowed me to realize that with palliative care, a nurse can take a negative situation and make it the most positive time remaining for both the patients and their family members. Once I completed my summer externship and returned to continue my nursing studies, I asked to observe the hospice unit during my off-unit days while I was completing my clinical rotations. With the helpful guidance I received from all the nurses in every hospice unit I was able to encounter, I became confident that my personality corresponded well with palliative care.
I currently have one semester remaining at the university, but the past events that have taken place throughout my college years have led to self-discovery. Both my experiences at my summer externship and clinical rotations at school have allowed me to realize who I am and what field of nursing would be most suitable. I highly encourage other students to observe the many different fields that nursing has to offer; perhaps it may open doors that were thought to be nonexistent.
On Being a Student Nurse, by Lindsay Giordano
What is it like to be a student nurse? Several words come to mind when I think about my four years in nursing school: determination, hard work, maturity, and responsibility. All of these words exemplify the personality of a student nurse. When I entered school for nursing, I was always told it was going to be challenging, with long study hours and the responsibility of people's lives in your hands. Although the thought was scary I was determined to get through it. The truth about being a student nurse, to put it simply, is that it is difficult. I have never met someone who goes through nursing school and says it was easy and not at all challenging. Being a student nurse has taught me all different kinds of responsibility and has helped me with my personal life more than any experience I have been through. It has shown me I can do anything that I put my mind to and I have become a much more mature person through my experiences at school, at clinical, and working in the hospital as an extern. Through my experience I have realized that it takes a certain person to be a student nurse—someone who has the drive to succeed in life, wants to help people, deeply cares about others, and is patient and understanding. Being a student nurse is not easy, but it is definitely worth it.
Why I Switched to Nursing, by Faye Zhong
A career in nursing was never part of my plan for my future until my junior year in college. Throughout my college career I had tried to live up to my parents' and siblings' expectations by becoming more of what they wanted me to be, and nursing was certainly not on top of their list of prestigious future careers. Prior to entering nursing school, I was studying economics and I realized that I feared and dreaded the concept of sitting in a cubicle and staring into a computer screen from 9 to 5 for the rest of my career life. I realized that I couldn't pursue a career in which the nature of the profession lacks meaning and personal fulfillment.
As cliché as it may sound, I truly do feel that my decision to become a nurse was primarily fueled by the satisfaction I would get from helping others. Being able to make someone else feel better either physically or emotionally really does give me a sense of pleasure and fulfillment as I pursue a career in nursing. My individual characteristics played an important role in choosing this profession. As a nursing student and as a future nurse, I strongly feel that without compassion, the desire to want to help others, and most importantly having tremendous patience, the quality of care and the relationship between nurse and patient would indisputably be affected. My motivations and incentives as a nursing student come from my personal desire for the need to provide optimal quality of care that we as future nurses could advocate for and potentially deliver to our patients. As a student nurse, I believe that my compassion and desire to help others gave me a greater sense of pleasure and fulfillment in the nursing program, which in turn motivates me to become a better student and helps drive me to provide better care to patients.
Despite the benefits of job security and a good income in the nursing profession, my advice for those who are thinking about switching into the nursing field for the sole purpose of these incentives is for them to have some basic understanding and knowledge of the nursing profession prior to making their decision. Despite these advantages, nursing may not be suitable for everyone. Some might find nursing to be fulfilling while others might feel miserable and discontented; however, nursing is a very broad profession with endless opportunities and varieties of specialty fields.
The Military View, by Howie Romans
For most, nursing school is typically a fluid progression through the course of four rewarding, yet challenging, years. In what I jokingly reference as the extended degree program, my experience in nursing school has presented both unique challenges and rewards, courtesy of my proud service to my country, as a member of the U.S. military. The combination of nursing education with military training and experience, I sincerely believe, has contributed to another dimension, of me, that most may be unable to fully understand. These experiences have helped me to fully realize the invaluable role that nurses play in not just tending to physical ailments, but also to caring for the whole person, in a genuine, holistic manner.
Immediately following the terrorist attacks of September 11, I had the honor of serving overseas, in Afghanistan, alongside some of the best soldiers and marines in the U.S. military. My education had to be put on hold. It was during this time of being fearful and experiencing the casualties of war firsthand, that an immediate change in my major to nursing was, without a doubt, in complete alignment with what I knew I wanted to do with my life. While some people spend a lifetime trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives, in hindsight, nursing was the clearest choice I have ever made. My service in New Orleans, Louisiana, immediately following the national disaster known as Hurricane Katrina, only served to validate, and reinforce, that decision.
Instead of looking at my situation filled with bitterness and anger, thanks to my military service nursing school has been even that much more interesting and rewarding. As entire classes have come and gone I've had the opportunity to meet some great students, who, I know, have gone on to be tremendous contributors to society. I have always been convinced that two of the most demanding professions are that of a soldier and that of a nurse. In my case, I chose both, and I wouldn't have it any other way. The art of soldiering has instilled in me great discipline, and leadership, that I have been able to carry on into my nursing career so far.
PhD Bound, by Jahaira Capellan
Nursing for me is the perfect profession because of the wide range of opportunities that it offers. Nursing allows you to work in a variety of disciplines, and it is flexible enough to adapt to your changing needs as an individual as you continue to grow and develop. It is a profession that has an impact on so many lives. As a nurse you focus not only on the client's ailment, but also on the person as a whole. A nurse understands that there is so much more to a person than just lying in a hospital bed and that many factors that aren't written on the chart can affect a person's health. These factors are important because they can help you to determine the best plan of care for a particular client, thereby increasing the likelihood that the client will have better outcomes.
I personally would like to further my education and get a PhD in behavioral health research. This will allow me to maximize my ability to help people. It will give me the opportunity to practice clinically as a family nurse practitioner, teach, and do research on child abuse. I am interested in researching the risk factors and implications that such a traumatic experience has on kids, as well as the different kinds of interventions that can be established to prevent child abuse from occurring.
Tips for Success, by Jessica Beyer
My greatest tip for future nursing students: Know yourself and why you are becoming a nurse. If care over cure is the foundation of nursing education, then build your studying around that principle. The vast amount of information that incorporates the nursing curriculum will never be fully remembered, but prioritizing what is important and what will make a difference for your patients should be burned into memory. You determine your goals and outcomes, so study hard to make it worth your while. Nursing is about caring for the needs of others, so forget the overachievers who want to beat out everyone, and study for your own future patients. Studying isn't a competition; it is part of the job description. Ask yourself why you care about this profession, and do what makes you happy. The studying will naturally fall into place if the dedication is there.
My Father's Inspiration, by John Gao
When I entered the nursing program as a freshman, my father had been diagnosed with throat and brain cancer several years before. He was the single reason that ignited my desire for nursing. Others would ask me why I became a nurse, and not a doctor, and my answer was always, "I do not know." Many things held me back from what other people would consider bigger dreams such as being a doctor. At the time I doubted my potential, my own intelligence, and the fear of an unknown future, as any high school senior would. Coming from an immigrant family of five and lacking resources, the choice of nursing was a big enough leap for me. Whether one would conventionally consider being a doctor superior to being a nurse, I did not care. I wanted to help people, especially my father.
It was not until the beginning of my sophomore year that experience shook me deeply. Two weeks before the semester began, my father was admitted to the hospital. Seeing my father in a hospital bed is still indescribable. Taking rounds by switching off with my brother and sister to keep my father company affirmed my decision to become a nurse. There was no doubt that nursing was for me. As my father got better the nurses expressed their joy, whereas the resident doctor, who had already given up hope, was surprised he even got better. The summer ended and I was reluctant to go back to school, but I did what I thought my father would want from me, to do my best at school. A few weeks later a phone call came in telling me my father had passed away.
There is now a struggle every day. I know I'm not the only one who struggles with loss, and others may struggle with things greater than loss. As a nurse, I can empathize and encourage others to stay strong. I was taught in nursing that until you are healed, you cannot heal others. But I find that to be incorrect in my life. In my view, if one is strong enough, then one can help others find strength within themselves. My strength comes from my struggle with loss. I know that my father loves me and knows that I'm capable of doing great things. It is up to me to do what I was made to do.
As a junior male in the nursing program, if I were asked once again why become a nurse and not a doctor, I would say, "Who cares why this or that, the better question to ask is, what personal experience did you encounter that led to the decision to become a nurse?"
Moving Up, by Katherine Levis
I've always known I wanted to work in the medical field in some way. Being a single mother of two children and living on $12 an hour while working in the hospital is not what I planned for the rest of my life. I obtained my associate degree, but knew that if I wanted stability and a real medical profession, nursing was the way to go. I started off in the nursing program at a community college, which I really enjoyed. However, I knew that getting my bachelor's degree in nursing was a better fit.
I transferred to a university and began the nursing program there. I have to say this was the best decision I could have ever made. I am not saying that it has been easy because it hasn't. It is a difficult program even for the traditional college student. It's very time-consuming, with clinical, labs, and paperwork. There were many days when I didn't know if I was going to get through the program, but I kept going. It has been a wonderful experience, though. You could not ask for a better mix of professors and instructors, who are all professionals in the field—caring is imprinted in their DNA. They understand that life happens and things come up, as they were in our shoes once. I enjoy the fact that we get to know our peers, sharing many of the same classes. We all can relate to what the others are going through, making our connections with each other stronger.
I currently have one semester left and will graduate with my bachelor's. I feel that I will be ready and prepared to take the nursing licensure exam. I ultimately want to continue my education and eventually get my master's degree. Since there are so many fields in nursing, I want to be able to focus on what area I enjoy. I hope experience will provide me with the direction I want to take and help me decide how to focus my master's. Nursing is an honorable and rewarding profession, and I feel so lucky to be a small part of it.
Graduation Is Just the Beginning, by Krista Wachendorfer
It seems like just yesterday I discovered that I was accepted into nursing school. Rumors about the hard work needed in the particular major were acknowledged but not truly understood until endless amounts of work began to pile up week after week. Reading long detailed textbook chapters, practicing NCLEX questions, solving dosage calculation problems, creating care maps for patients, and writing assigned journals for scheduled clinical days became a lifestyle. After many stressful days and nights of trying to complete the demands of nursing school, questions arose that focused on the thought, "Is this really worth it?" I am now a senior-year nursing student with one semester left of nursing school, and I can answer that question with an honest "yes!"
I can reflect on the moments spent with the patients and the endless paperwork becomes forgettable. Nursing is a career that allows you to drastically intervene into someone's life. As a nursing student I was introduced to this and my job was to lead them toward a more positive direction. I have taken care of a variety of patients who range from a healthy mother who had just given birth to her first-born to an old man only hours away from his final breaths. At my final stage of school, I don't feel the anxiety that was felt before a big test or challenging question asked in a previous class. I now understand that the work was hard because of the rewards it is leading me to. I have had and will continue to have the opportunity to be beside someone during the most vulnerable moments—moments that only a nurse can understand. To be able to say that I will be taking care of someone's life is so moving to me in many ways. However, what is even more amazing to me is that as a student I can say that this is just the beginning!
Touching Lives, by Laura Garrison
The experience of being a nursing student is extraordinary, and unlike any other type of college student there is. This time in my life has been one filled with selfdiscovery and realizations about the world. Commitment and responsibility are two virtues that nursing students have to become very familiar with, and the level at which my nursing classmates and I embody these is astonishing to me. We have come to be wise beyond our years, for we have seen people suffering. Most students our age do not have this opportunity. We have felt what it is like to have someone trust us with their health, and allow us into their personal world and space. It truly is a gift. The respect that the patients have for us and the nursing profession is tangible. Although college is not always smooth sailing, and the emotional roller coaster metaphor seems so fitting here, I know I am expressing the feelings of most of my classmates when I say that nursing school has facilitated my coming into my life's calling. It has channeled the caring personalities we have into skilled work with people who need our help the most. As a second semester senior with graduation not five months away, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Nursing school has been an amazing experience, and its teachings will shape the type of nurse I will be for the rest of my life. While all of my fellow college students are searching for jobs in today's market, I am looking for the right job; a job that will allow me to use all of my nursing skills, both clinical and interpersonal, to the fullest. I only hope that I can touch as many lives as the nursing faculty I have been privileged to work with.
A Close Shave, by Laura Benjamin
Being a nursing student is a stressful, emotional ride. It isn't the same as English class where you hand in your paper and go home. You interact with real people undergoing real medical problems who are facing their own mortality, usually for the first time. Just as important as honing your clinical skills is learning what to do with the things you see every day, or one day you won't be able to face going into work even one more time. While the downs are pretty low, nothing beats the little thing you do for that one person that garners so much appreciation that you go home completely high. Once, I shaved a man's face. He was too sick to do it himself. He was so grateful, he couldn't stop talking about it all shift long and tried to make his son pay me for it. It took 10 minutes and it made someone on death's door feel like a million bucks—you can't get that in other professions.
Massaging a Second Career, by Lisa Daly
I had been a massage therapist for eight years when I decided to pursue a BSN degree. I had enjoyed working with people and helping to develop goals for them to eliminate any pain they may have been suffering. Since I was self-employed and running my own office, money was always running out the door faster than in. Gaining my RN would give me more opportunities for employment. With my massage therapy background, I understand the power of the simple touch on the hand, or the light pat on the back. I have enjoyed my education a great deal so far in the nursing program and I have applied much of the knowledge to my massage practice.
Adding "full-time student" to my already full schedule as a wife, mother, and business owner has been challenging. It has added a great strain at home, I will not lie. Getting up earlier in the morning as opposed to staying up late does help out. Getting the boys ready for school the night before instead of in the morning adds to the organization. However, up here in the Northeast, snow days for the kids pop up out of nowhere, so depending on them being at school every day is not advised.
One piece of advice I have for anyone starting nursing school is to make friends with your peers. These people are going though the same rigorous program you are. Having someone to talk to makes the rough days easier to deal with. Also, although you may have made some great friends, never forget that you are solely responsible for your performances on tests and projects. It is up to you to keep up with course materials and lectures and maximize your educational outcome.
From Tears to Triumph, by Mandy Lorenz
Being a nursing student brings about many feelings of exhilaration, as well of feelings of being small and afraid. Nursing school is scary. There is so much to learn and so little time. You will be responsible for someone's life someday. How will you ever do it? How can you ever succeed when you need to know 10 chapters of material in one week? How can you ever recall the steps to resuscitate someone in cardiac arrest? Are you really that dumb? Is your mind made of Teflon? No! The hectic, scary, fast-paced, overwhelming schedule and curriculum of nursing students make them great nurses, leaders, advocates, and above all, flexible. You need to feel small and scared to become great. You need to be pushed and almost provoked into tears to get a grip on your dreams of becoming a fabulous nurse. Overcoming all of these awful feelings brings you to a place where exhilaration takes over. You are excited to get to clinical at 6 A.M. the next day. You become determined to take the next exam. At this point, you've astered the impossible schedules and you begin to pull the bits and pieces together and the big picture is now clear!
Being a nursing student is one of the most fulfilling achievements of my life. I graduate in May with my class. These four years of my life have brought me full circle. I started as a shy, quiet, and extremely timid freshman and have bloomed into a confident, loud, bright, and enthusiastic senior. Nursing is now my life and my life is so much better than I could have imagined!
The Reality of Being a Nursing Student, by Mary Kate McFarland
Upon being accepted into the nursing program at my university I had no idea what lay ahead of me. Becoming a nurse has been the most emotionally, mentally, and physically difficult task I have ever undertaken. When first starting out in the program I became overwhelmed by the course load. However, as I have progressed in the curriculum, I am finding the classroom aspect of nursing school to be the easy part. Caring for patients has presented more challenges to me than I could have ever imagined. Some obstacles are surmountable, others are not. No matter what the outcome, each and every experience I have had as a nursing student has helped to shape me into a more compassionate, competent, and professional health care provider. In just a few short months I am going to have to leave my safety net of instructors and peers and be responsible for functioning independently. Admittedly this thought frightens me, but I am confident that the lessons and skills I have gained during my journey to becoming a nurse will carry me through and help me to thrive as a "green" nurse.
Never Too Late to Be a Nurse, by Michele Summers
I started nursing school in the late 1970s, but never finished. The desire to complete my bachelor's in nursing never left me, even after 27 years of marriage and 20 years of homeschooling my five children. After repeated requests from my youngest daughter, we decided to enroll her and her not-so-eager younger brother in the local middle school. Now was my chance to see what hoops I would need to jump through in order to graduate.
Our family had numerous discussions regarding our role and responsibility changes. Issues we sorted out were menus, shopping, transportation, homework, sports, laundry, and dishes. Creating a chore chart helped us visualize and prioritize what was needed to keep the family running. Everyone from youngest to oldest had an opportunity to choose what they would be willing to do, going around until everything was accounted for. This gave us a basic structure of order with the freedom to trade jobs and flex for each other depending on outside activities and deadlines. Personally, I created a schedule of my classes, clinical, study time, reading assignments, research assistant time, family events, and church volunteer time. Organizing my time this way helped me to reach my goals, readjusting when necessary.
The upside: We were all extremely happy in our new environments. Even my husband had recently started a lifelong dream job as a pastor after 30 years of truck driving. The downside: It was a tiring schedule. Up in the morning, make lunch, everyone do a chore, be at school/work all day, come home and help with homework (my youngest has a reading disability), do dinner and clean up, maybe attend a sport or church event, and study time for me. That first year was a big adjustment. I have three older children who are on their own, and they would help with transportation and go to the kids' games when we needed them.
What helped us was keeping in mind that my schooling was a two-year commitment, that we could do this for four semesters. Something else invaluable is my family's teamwork. Over the years, we emphasized that we are a team, that everyone benefits from our home and family, and that we need to work together. I tell my family and friends at church that the B.S. degree will belong to them as much as me. Experiencing this chapter in my life is encouraging because I realize that other dreams and goals are possible, too.
What It Is Like to Be a Nurse, by Mike Evans
Since I became a registered nurse in 2002, nursing has offered me not only a rewarding career but a way to give back to society. It has allowed me to enter people's lives and touch them, even if only for a brief moment. I have been fortunate enough to be able to both laugh and cry with my patients, often all in the same shift. I have seen births and witnessed deaths, both of which can be very rewarding. Holding someone's hand as they let go from the world can be very emotionally draining for a nurse but also gratifying at the same time, knowing that you have done all you can to help that patient and accompanied him as he entered another place. Nursing has allowed me the opportunity to care for the sick, promote health in the well, and advocate for all.
Nursing has brought me a great many friendships and mentors that I cherish. It has taught me to be selfless and to give more of myself and expect less from others. Nursing has taught me about being a professional and earning respect, not expecting it. Nursing has taught me about leadership and teamwork, both of which are necessary to succeed in this profession. Nursing has taught me that patients need our care at all hours of the day, even if they do not want it or know they need it. Nursing has taught me that as one door closes another door opens, allowing for countless opportunities as a registered nurse. By obtaining advanced education, nursing has allowed me not only to better care for individuals but also to teach others to do the same. Finally, nursing has taught me that there is nothing else in the world that I would rather do.
Making a Difference, by Milt Evans
All too often, we are told that we can and do make a difference in someone's life. However, most of the time, the conscious awareness does not come to fruition. While providing orientation to a class of LPN students, I was approached by one of the students. She shared with me a picture of her beautiful 17-year-old daughter. It was Brianna Leigh! I had been a young student in my obstetrics rotation at school and was assigned a frightened teen single mom. We experienced labor and birth together and I provided her post-delivery care. What a humbling and gratifying serendipitous meeting some 17 years later. It is worth waiting as long as necessary to realize the profession of nursing makes a difference.
Early Risings, by Monica Mazurowski
Becoming a nursing student certainly has its ups and downs. You have moments during clinical where things start clicking and you really help someone and you think, "Wow, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life." Then you have moments in the classroom when you wonder how in the world you will ever make it through the semester, let alone become a nurse. Now that I'm in my senior year, I'm definitely starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and things are really coming together both in the classroom and in clinical.
One of the biggest challenges I faced throughout nursing school was getting into the swing of clinical. It's not easy to wake up at five o'clock in the morning, be at the hospital at six, and be ready to rattle off all 18 of your patient's medications, why they're here, and five nursing diagnoses for your client. Before nursing school, I didn't start functioning until at least ten o'clock! But somehow you get used to it. I also found it challenging to talk to patients at first. I was so nervous about doing an assessment and concentrating on how many breaths the patient was taking in this minute that I was dumbfounded about what to say. After a few clinicals and listening to other nurses, you definitely get the drift, but there is a sense of awkwardness at first that isn't really recognized by professors. This may sound silly, but my biggest challenge of all was time management. Having to wake up so early for clinical means you need to go to bed early the night before. It's hard to get all of your work done by a reasonable time as it is, not to mention people in the dorms wanting you to socialize and being awake until all hours of the night. And to be completely honest, there were a lot of nights throughout nursing school when I thought, "Gosh, it'd be nice to be an education major for a week."
Army Bound, by Neil Smartschan
I am a male in nursing school. Yes, I have heard it numerous times already from everyone. "Why aren't you going to be a doctor," and I have heard many references to Ben Stiller's infamous character, male nurse Gaylord Focker from the Meet the Parents movie. Yet, I am proud to be a nursing student. I feel it takes a special dedication and person to become a successful and motivated nursing student and eventually professional nurse.
After graduation from nursing school I plan on joining the United States Army and becoming a part of the Army Nurse Corps. Not only will I be able to serve my country, but I will also be able to be a nurse at the same time. I have fellow classmates who are planning on joining the Army Nurse Corps as well.
That's me. I am a male nursing student. No, as of now I am not going to be a doctor and, yes, you can call me Gaylord Focker all you want. In what other profession can you go just about anywhere in the country to get a job these days? And in what other major can you go to a student nurse convention and be one of maybe 50 male nursing students? I am proud that I got up at 4:30 A.M. for clinical and provided optimal care to even the most difficult patients. I hope that I have put in the time necessary to become a successful, safe, and prudent registered nurse.
Only the Beginning, by Nicole Russo
Upon entering nursing school, I was eager to learn anything and everything I could that would facilitate my thriving in my future career as a nurse. I would be lying if I said it has been easy. With difficult schedules and long hours of studying combined with the time-consuming preps for clinical and clinical days, it has definitely been a rough ride. There have been numerous times in the past three and a half years in which I have seriously doubted myself in nursing school. It used to give me tremendous amounts of anxiety to believe that as a nurse, in just a few short years, I would be responsible for someone else's life. That said, it has been the most rewarding time of my life thus far and I would not trade it for anything else because of all of the things I have gained from it. Yes, it is a big responsibility, but I soon came to realize that I am not the only nursing student to feel this way and no one in the world can know everything you need to know about nursing while you are still in school. Although nursing school currently provides the knowledge and skills I need in order to start my career, I believe that experience, aside from basic skills and compassion, is the best teacher. In the years to come, I will gain more knowledge and experience, which will help me care for others in the best possible way I am able to.
As a sophomore, when our clinical rotations first began, I can remember how frightened I was as I entered the room of my first patient on a skilled nursing unit. My biggest concern at that time was that I would do something accidentally that would harm my patient instead of helping. Of course, this was a legitimate concern; however, when looking back, I must admit that, unfortunately, sometimes I may have focused more on the nursing skills than on my actual patient. Yes, the skills of nursing are extremely important; medication must be administered safely in the correct dose and in a sterile procedure, sterility must be maintained, but if I have learned one thing it has been that no patient will remember those things. The thing patients will remember is the compassion you had and how they were treated.
Commitment, by Nicole Trama
Being a student nurse is both challenging and rewarding. As students we go through many courses that require both clinical and classroom work. Unlike other majors we spend a great deal of our studies in the field working on different units and sites instead of just being in the classroom. Nursing school is a very hands-on experience with a lot to learn in a short amount of time. The rewarding part of being a student nurse is that we are able to spend a great deal of time working on units and with nurses. We experience first-hand during school what a nurse must complete and how to care for the patients in several different fields of nursing. We are able to care for our own patients under the supervision of registered nurses and our professors and experience the rewards of being a nurse. Although being a student nurse requires a lot of commitment it is something that I enjoy.
The Letter, by Olivia Kurtoglu
During my second med-surge clinical junior year, I took care of an 85-year-old woman who was admitted for treatment of an infected wound. I changed her dressings, assisted her with morning care, amd administered medication. She chatted up a storm. She told me about things that were important to her—her grandchildren, her assisted living friends, and most importantly, her dog. I listened and shared a few stories as well. When it was time to leave for the day, she asked for my address, telling me she would write to me. I wrote my school address on a small sheet of paper and put it in her pants pocket, expecting to never hear from her again.
In nursing school we are told that we may not remember every patient, but it is more than likely your patient will remember you, their nurse (and maybe even their student nurse). About a month later I received a letter in the mail:
Dear Olivia,I am back at my assisted living apartment. I miss you and hope we can see each other again someday. I am feeling better but cannot leave my apartment. Please write back to me, I can't wait to hear from you. You were my best nurse. Continue to spread your good care and love.
I will certainly never forget this patient. She will certainly never forget me, her student nurse. Even as a student, you can make a difference in a patient's life. They do appreciate you. This was the best feeling one could ask for in this career.
The Moment, by Rajae Elkirami
Not only was my entrance to the nursing program a challenge, but so was my being in the program. Being a mother of a two-year-old boy and a wife was a challenge, especially since I grew up in a culture where eating outside the home is unacceptable and rare. It is a culture in which you have to cook every day for the family, but thanks to my family's support I made it through. I remember every good and bad moment I passed through during the last two years, but the one I remember best is when I was caring for a lady who was admitted to the hospital because of hyperemesis. I spent most of the shift with her, helping her find some type of food that she might keep in her stomach. When she was discharged at noon, she hugged me as if she knew me for a long time and said, "Thank you, thank you so much for your care and being friendly with me." This is the moment I felt touched and that all the difficulty I went through was worth it. I am ready to be a responsible and caring nurse.
A Freshman's Point of View, by Rosemary Welte
When I started my nursing career as a freshman, I wasn't sure what to expect. It was a big transition from high school to college work, and I wasn't sure whether I could handle it. One of the things I did to help ease into the swing of things, which I would advise anyone else to do who has the same uncertainty about handling coursework at the college level, was to take fewer credits—it really helped me out in the first semester. I got an idea of what the classes were like without feeling like I was flying in too many directions at once, and the extra time for classes helped me to get better grades than I probably would have otherwise. In general, I've tried to keep my credit numbers down ever since, by taking a couple of summer courses to lighten the load during the regular semester, which allows me to focus better and do better in the classes I take.
One of the things I've really enjoyed so far in the nursing program is the size of the school of nursing. Even though I'm only in my second year, I've been able to do a lot of networking with many of the other nursing students, since most of the classes I've been taking are general requirements for all of us. I expect this to help a lot the next couple of years, once my fellow students and I start getting into the hard-core nursing curriculum. It has helped me already to make friends and study partners who I will also be working with in the future. It has even helped when I want to speak with faculty and professors in the nursing program; the school is small enough that people will know me by face, if not by name.
As for the classes themselves, there are ups and downs—classes or professors that I had a hard time with, schedules that weren't always easy, and requirements that were sometimes difficult to jug—12;but in general I found that all I really needed to do was focus and put in the time and effort. Sometimes I guess I do this a little overmuch, but it's usually worth it in the end. There have been other times when I have had wonderful classes and great professors, so like anything it's a mixed bag. I'm really looking forward to starting into the core nursing courses, though, since it will bring everything I've been working on these first couple of years into the actual practice of nursing.
One Big Happy Dysfunctional Family, by Samantha Guy
There is no other experience like being a nursing student; it has been the best and worst time of my life. I have had the opportunity to see and do things I never thought I would, I've had the chance to connect with people during a difficult time in their lives and hopefully made them a little better, and I've made friends that I will keep for life. In my senior year of school my fellow classmate described our class perfectly as "a big, loving, dysfunctional family." I wouldn't trade my nursing school years for anything; they have taught me life lessons and, most important, how to be myself.
Passion and Determination, by Sara Rieger
Since being a nursing student I have found that the most important traits to have are passion and determination. Nursing is one of the most challenging majors in college as a student and a person. I like being a nursing student because it exposes me to many different situations that I need to experience in order to become a great nurse. The challenging aspect of being a nursing student is learning time management. There is so much work involved and many deadlines. Learning time management in school will be most helpful when becoming a nurse.
Being a Nurse, by Terri M. Parkin
It doesn't take much to lend a helping hand, help a person cross the street, or give a friend some words of encouragement. But it takes a monumental effort from the kindest person to be a supportive and thoughtful caregiver every day. Nursing is a difficult profession. You put aside personal opinions and issues of selfishness to be the best person you can be, to someone else. It's a beautiful thing and rewarding or those who have the courage to undertake it. I love being a nurse. I enjoy knowing that the smallest things I do, even the ones that I don't think make a difference, do in fact make a difference. People remember the care they received. They remember those consoling moments and times when you made them laugh. It might not always be your name but your presence has had an impact. It took many years and constant perseverance to obtain a nursing degree. There were times when all I wanted to do was give up. What drove me was not just family and friends, but knowing that I have the power to make positive changes in many lives. Nursing is a lifelong commitment of lifelong learning; you never stop. Being a nurse has its struggles like any career. There are moments when all you want to do is cry, but I wouldn't change the feelings of passion, sadness, loneliness, loss, pain, enlightenment, fulfillment, and joy that I feel every day for any other career in the world. You won't realize you chose the right profession until you get out there and do it. Be afraid, be excited, be nervous, but be someone special.
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