2008 Winning Essay
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
Currently I'm working as a nurse on a general medicine floor at University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. In May, I'll be starting grad school at Penn to be a women's health NP.
I am currently a junior at the University of Pennsylvania. I am the vice president of Student Nurses at Penn and recently had a research article published in the University of Pennsylvania's Journal for Student Nurse Research. Last fall, I applied to the graduate program and was accepted into the Nurse-Midwifery progam at Penn, which I will start right after graduation in 2010. I also work part time as a clinical research coordinator at the Abramson Cancer Center-Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Currently, I am applying for membership to Sigma Theta Tau and preparing to attend the National Student Nurse Association Conventional in Nashville, TN this spring.
To choose a career in nursing is to dedicate yourself to a lifelong passion. From the moment you first identify yourself as a nurse, you join an elite force of talented people. You must prepare yourself for births, deaths, and illnesses and you must learn to celebrate wellness and health. You must be prepared for all kinds of situations and all kinds of emotions. However, most importantly, once you call yourself a nurse you must simply care. By choosing a career in nursing, you commit yourself to the care of others. Nursing is not a 9 to 5 job; nursing is a lifestyle.
The documentary, A Nurse I Am, highlights three nurses who truly care. Each of these nurses demonstrates that nursing is in fact a lifestyle. One of the selected nurses, Mona Counts, really altered the way I view the career of nursing. To me, nursing has always been an action-packed adventure that involves delivering babies, comforting dying patients and working in an emergency room saving people’s lives. While I knew some people choose to go into areas of nursing such as primary care, I never really thought about what a nurse might do in such a setting. After seeing Mona in action, I think that the nurses that do the “everyday work” such as primary care, nursing in schools or health care administration play a very important, under-recognized role in the medical field. Unfortunately, many nursing students get caught up in the excitement of more fast-paced nursing career options and never stop to think about the “everyday work”.
Mona Counts shows that the “everyday work” of nursing does not have to be ordinary. Mona is a nurse that runs her own primary care center, working to prevent disease and treating illnesses as they arise. In a town like the one in Appalachia where Mona works, many people do not have health insurance; therefore, many people do not see health care providers very often. Mona therefore plays an important role in society – she must not only treat the disease but work to prevent it in the first place. As more Americans are becoming older and less people are becoming nurses, preventive care is going to be very important in the future. Before I came to nursing school and prior to viewing the documentary, I never understood how important preventative care was for America. Now, I know it’s a big problem…and it’s only getting bigger.
Besides her ability to incorporate both prevention and treatment into office visits, the other thing about Mona that really enhanced my views of what it actually means to be a nurse is the way she bonds with each and every one of her patients. In my time at nursing school, I have often been told not to get too close to any patients. Unfortunately, I’ve begun to question whether I can even form a bond at all, for fear of getting “too close”. In the documentary, Mona allayed my fears by demonstrating that you can maintain professional relationships with patients…while still forming personal relationships. The relationships Mona forms are dynamic – just like the career of nursing itself.
By sharing Mona’s experience with her, I’ve come to see nursing’s full potential as a very multifaceted career. Mona was an excellent choice to be involved in the documentary because of her great technique and skills, and her personal and approachable nature (all characteristic that nurse should have). She portrays nursing as a very rewarding career, which I believe it will be. However, not once does Mona come right out and say why someone should be a nurse. She states why she’s one and why she loves it. I think that Mona realizes that to become a successful nurse you must make the decision to enter the field yourself. Every nurse comes to nursing for different reasons. Some like Mona want to dedicate their lives to preventing disease and treating it if it arises. Many nurses feel they must help people suffering from illnesses get better. Every nurse comes to nursing to change people’s lives. If you feel that you can dedicate your life to the lives of others, not only while “on the job” but in any setting that the need may arise, then you should join the nursing force. Join Mona, join me, join the countless other nurses working long hours unrecognized as we quest to save the world…or at least make it a little more friendly and healthy for everyone.