2009 Winning Essay

2009 A Nurse I Am Scholarship winners were asked to answer the following: In 750 words or less, pick two nurses in the film "A Nurse I Am" and tell how they take their jobs to the next level in order to impact the lives of their patients. In light of a nursing shortage that has the potential to affect staffing levels and the quality of care delivered, how will you rise to the challenge to meet the needs of your patients?

Keith Weekley

Jamestown Community College

In my senior year of high school, a friend was writing an article for the school newspaper and asked me to explain the word character. I replied by saying that character is the measure of one’s convictions. In the nursing video “A Nurse I Am,” three individuals exemplify this meaning of character. I would like to discuss two of them in particular—Robert Wilkinson and Mona Counts.

Every occupation requires a specific skill set in order to perform and fulfill its expected responsibilities. Nursing is no exception. What endears clients to their respective caregivers, however, is the level of trust and commonality that extends beyond merely providing a service. Robert Wilkinson demonstrates this as a routine part of his job. He sings to his young clients, plays with them, and offers his entire self while meeting their medical needs. It is this ability to look beyond the medical conditions and therapies his clients are receiving that permits him to truly be open to each of them as unique individuals and valued members of the human race.

In a scene in the video, Mr. Wilkinson is sitting in the hospital chapel sharing his personal struggles and challenges he confronts daily. As he is explaining how he processes the emotional turmoil that he experiences, he begins to cry. I find great inspiration in this display of his humanity. I know that it is specifically this strength that enables him to deliver compassion and sincerity to the young children in his care. Mr. Wilkinson even says, “I have offered my life on occasion, but he [God] doesn’t take me up on it.” To witness a human being offer to lay down his life for someone else’s or who is willing to trade another’s life of suffering for one of joy, is love incarnate.

Mr. Wilkinson’s actions transcend the ordinary, but I think it is the quality of his integrity that permeates his generous spirit and truly lends credence to who he is as a person and as a nurse. I will face similar obstacles that I am sure Mr. Wilkinson has encountered by being a male in a predominately female career. The ability to express genuine compassion toward others who will look at me as a source of support and hope is a quality in Mr. Wilkinson that I wish to emulate.

Mona Counts’ dedication to serving the poor in Appalachia is another exceptional display of selfless giving. She is depicted in the video as a Nurse Practitioner who is capable and comfortable of providing care to her clients. Education and medical language can often disassociate clients from healthcare providers. Ms. Counts never permits her advanced training to interfere with the personal, individual relationships she has established with those in her care. It is precisely this unique ability to communicate in colloquial language that brings her closer to those whom she serves. It is not a front or façade, but rather an expression of her devotion.

I am beginning to realize that, even as a student nurse, people in my life are looking to me to answer their medical questions. For Mrs. Counts, there truly is no separation between her occupation and her vocation. They are one and the same. Even while dining in a restaurant with her family, she still approaches the clients under her care, answers their questions, and reassures them that she is available to help. Ms. Counts offers suggestions when her clients are unable to pay or lack health insurance. Her concern for others is evident in their expressions and the high esteem in which she is held by her community.

Robert Wilkinson and Mona Counts have both shown me ways to meet the needs of my clients. Every individual in my care is special and deserves personal attention. Even through the future rising needs of competent nurses and the increasing number of clients, exceptional care is still expected. It is simply not enough to possess a higher education or advanced degrees. If one is impersonal in the application of their nursing training, then mankind suffers. I am proud to be entering a field where special people like Ardis Bush, Mona Counts, and Robert Wilkinson strive to make a positive difference in the lives of those whom they serve.

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