Wrapping It All Up—What It Means To Be a Nurse (page 3)
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.
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