Most people grow up having a clear understanding as to what they want to be in life. It is the norm to attend high school, move on to college and pursue these goals. I, on the other hand did not have just one set goal. In elementary school, I wanted to be an engineer, because my dad said that’s what I should be. In junior high school, the show Baywatch was always on. I wanted to be a lifeguard because it seemed cool; beautiful people being heroes where everyone looked at them in awe as they saved. High school came around and I was always involved in extracurricular activities. While being the head of three clubs, senior class secretary and running the school’s webpage, I developed a knack for management, and organizational skills; which led me to think about computer programming. These dreams however, weren’t really my dreams. I never was able to really say, why or how much I wanted to pursue these dreams. They were simply my responses to people asking what I wanted to do with my life. It was not until I was exposed to the field of nursing that I truly understood who I am and what I want to become.
My desire to become a nurse was not simply a response but a passion built up through my experiences as a Clinical Assistant at the emergency room at Stony Brook University Hospital. I was very intrigued by how patient care differs in a hospital setting. I have known EMS for over eight years of my life – it simply consisted of stabilizing patients and then dropping them off; my experiences as a C.A. exposed me to a new dimension of medical care.
It was however, at the E.R., where I was now seeing the before and after; from EMS activation to patient discharge, I was privy to the whole picture behind a patient’s emergency care. The nursing staff had always been the ones who stood out to me. They were the healers, both mentally and physically. I recall one instance where a patient was brought in presenting with chest pain. The thirty year-old man came in with sub-sternal chest pain which radiated to his back. He had a history of cocaine and heroin abuse; and came in requesting Detox. I remember setting the gentleman up on the cardiac monitor and listening to the doctor ask him about his medical history. The doctor ordered an electrocardiogram, Nitroglycerin and continuous monitoring while walking out of the room. While the nurse was starting the patient’s intravenous line, she began talking to the patient. It was then that I saw that this patient was not just your thirty year old junkie, but a man who had complex social issues which led to his drug habits, a man who suffered through the tragic death of his wife and who was a father to three children. As a result of the nurse’s bedside manner; the patient suddenly became human. He was no longer a case of symptoms. The time the nurse had with the patient and the mere ability for her to sit there and converse with the patient had reassured him. It was one of those moments at his treatment that allowed him to have hope, that he would be better with this visit and be able to see his children the next day. I feel that the field of nursing is one that is differentiated from other healthcare professions. It is a field that allows you to see the whole patient, rather than just bits and pieces of a story. That is why it is my dream and goal to be able to provide that same comfort and care into my future patients.
I can’t say that my passion for taking care of people all started with the ER. My experience with the Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps also played a strong role. I remember a call that went out a few minutes before the end of what was a long shift at SBVAC. I responded to at least six ambulance alarms the night before, which ranged from drunk vomiting college kids to people bleeding all over from lacerations while falling out of a second story window. I was looking forward to getting off shift so I could go home to my bed. My pager went off for a mutual aid call to an elderly male respiratory distress at the local Veteran’s Home. My initial response was, “great another patient that they’re shipping out!” When we got to my patient’s bedside however, the response changed. It’s Mr. X, a 76 year old male with dementia, aphasia, and a tracheostomy. I have responded to Mr. X’s bedside countless numbers of times in the past. Pneumonia is not something new for Mr. X, as he develops it often as a result of his tracheostomy. I went to assess him, listening for the familiar rales that he presented with, and the pitting edema on his legs and arms. Mr. X looked over at me and stared. It was the same stare he always gave; stoic, without any emotion. I always saw something in his eyes that told me that he was thankful for the care we provided to him. Although he seemed emotionless, I could tell when he was sick, sad, glad or content. Whether it was the changing of his sheets or being the only person who is able to successfully establish an IV on him, the feeling of appreciation or need makes all the difference. During his visits to the E.R. I had gotten to know his wife; I could see the gleam in her eyes when we worked on her husband and I was glad to know that I became someone they could trust. I know that becoming a nurse will allow me to provide care to patients like Mr. X on a higher level.
Through these experiences, I’ve have recognized that nursing is what is important to me and what makes me happy. Working in the settings that I have, where patient care should always come first, I have been witness to many styles and philosophies of care. I have seen doctors who truly hate coming to work and complain about their shifts everyday. I have worked with nurses who take out their stress and frustrations on their patients by neglecting them making them wait hours for care. I have interviewed and worked with college students who all said they wanted to do EMS to help people, and saw them leave our agency because they never really loved it. Having been witness to all of these things, I came to realize that doing something that I love is truly all that matters. Nursing is something for which I have a passion. Treating patients has always been something that I respect and can not think of anything else that would make me more content. In the end, I can now say it is my dream to become a nurse. I aspire to work as an Emergency Room Critical Care Transport Nurse, and ultimately pursue a future in teaching nursing. My reasons lies with the patients, the fast paced setting, the autonomy to providing care, the teaching behind nursing, the flexibility, along with the millions of other reasons why nursing is what’s for me. I know that with a degree in nursing, I will have the means to make my dreams come true.