2010 Winning Essay
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
Nursing is both science and art. It is applying principles of structure and function along with mechanisms of treatment to cure disease. It is also interpreting and responding to the unquantifiable human experience. It is a synergistic relationship that couples scientific knowledge with human relation. It is multifaceted, and as I discover more sides of nursing, I find myself desiring to become more like Mona Counts and Ardis Bush, exemplary nurses of sheer compassion and care. Both Mona and Ardis struck me as intelligent, compassionate people who could have gone quite far to pursue success. Yet, they both valued the needs of their patients more than fame or fortune and committed to serving their community in every capacity.
Ardis' personal philosophy about nursing clearly demonstrates how she incorporated the metaparadigm concepts of nursing in her practice. She stated in the documentary, "treat the whole person, not just the diagnosis.” This mindset definitely shaped her interaction with her patients and colleagues. It was apparent that Ardis was always giving up time and attention for herself to devote more to her patients. Even as a nurse manager, she still gave each patient considerate attention and provided for their physical and emotional needs as best as she could. She fostered a caring environment that enabled the nurses under her charge as well as herself to provide the best care to the patients. She kept the environment positive and resolved conflicts that surfaced. She even brought these skills outside of the hospital with her to gather with an ill colleague and with grieving loved ones. From the hospital setting to more private, intimate settings, Ardis brought her hard work and consideration for others with her everywhere she went and impacted the whole people of an entire community.
Mona too has impacted an entire community, one less affluent and privileged than many in the United States. I personally admire her most out of the three nurses featured in the film because she humbly gave up her life to serve a community as a healthcare professional and friend 24/7. Her patients testified that Mona treated each of them as a person, not a statistic. Mona established more than a typical patient-practitioner relationship; she became a source of advice, comfort and inspiration. As a scientist, she observed her patients beyond their physical symptoms and noticed their habits and personality quirks, which enabled her to care for them as real people. Mona encouraged her patients to take steps to live a whole, healthful life in all aspects, not just physical. She also adapted to her patient's environment to better serve them. She broke things down in layman's terms so her patients could understand. She never stopped advocating for her patients, many of whom were of low socioeconomic status, uninsured, and afflicted with chronic illness. She stood for the weak and became a hero to the people of Mt. Morris and asked for nothing in return. She simply enjoyed watching people get better.
Both Ardis and Mona possess qualities I would like to mirror when I become a nurse. First and foremost, they placed their patients above themselves and treated them as people, not bodies. I wish to connect on a more human level with my patients and their support networks. I also intend to care holistically for my patients and encourage healthy living so that they can live better quality lives. I am pursuing a minor in nutrition so I can better educate my patients in the future on preventative care. I'm also a detail-oriented person, so I will try to pick up on personality quirks and habits to make better assessments. I will try my best to accommodate the environment to suit my patients' needs. I think I would have a little more difficulty adjusting to my patient's environment, as Mona did in Mt. Morris, but I think I would be able to do it with time. I will attempt to incorporate aspects of my personal life, interaction with loved ones, and spirituality as Ardis did into my practice. My biggest challenge will be integrating the science of nursing with the art. The science comes very natural to me, but I have more difficulty relating, and speaking the same language as other people like Mona. However, I believe all things and more will come with time and experience. I can only hope that I will encounter mentors like Ardis or Mona, real nurses who simply care to change the world, one person at a time.