After being educated by nurses of its community, through phone calls, articles, and letters regarding the impending shortage of nurses and the impact on patient care, local newspaper makes effort to help increase public awareness of the profession and career choice by shining spotlight on its community's nurses:
Following the call to help others
College of Staten Island's Linda Reese, RN encourages nursing students to follow their dreams
Monday, March 31, 2003
By AYSHA SIDDIQUE
STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE
For most of us, it takes years to find our niche in life. Linda Reese, however, began working toward her dream as a teen-ager.
"I always knew I wanted to be a nurse," Mrs. Reese said. A Brooklyn native, she got her start as a candy striper at Maimonides Medical Center during high school. She devoted weekends and summers to learning the ins and outs of the field, but remained passionate about her studies.
"I loved being a student," Mrs. Reese said about her days at Erasmus High School. "It's the same high school that Barbara Streisand went to," she gloated.
Mrs. Reese continued her education at Hunter College in Manhattan and earned her bachelor of science degree in nursing in 1968. Though she always wanted to go away to school, it wasn't within her family's budget. She chose Hunter because at the time, tuition for CUNY schools was free, and coincidentally, Hunter had housing for nursing students. She was very excited to experience the independence of being on her own, though she was still close to home.
After college, she spent three years working as a staff nurse and clinical nurse specialist at Bellevue Hospital, Manhattan. She then became a consultant at the hospital for about a year.
By 1970, Mrs. Reese had a master of arts degree in psychiatric mental health from New York University under her belt and was ready to tackle the world of medicine.
A NEW EXPERIENCE ON STATEN ISLAND
But like many nurses, she chose to utilize her expertise outside the hospital. In 1972, Mrs. Reese's life was changed by a phone call from a former teacher inquiring if she would fill in as a part time professor at the College of Staten Island.
Although she was a bit skeptical about teaching, Mrs. Reese said she's always open to new experiences. She accepted the position and moved to Staten Island one year later.
Mrs. Reese gave birth to her son, Colin, in 1978, but that did not hold her back in the workplace.
Her quick adaptation to teaching and her love for the students did not go unnoticed. In 1982, Mrs. Reese became a full time associate professor and taught psychiatric nursing and interpersonal dynamics in nursing classes.
"I probably go so well with teaching because of the love I had for school," explained Mrs. Reese. "Teaching is about creativity and exploring. You go into the classroom with the freedom to have your own approach. In fact, you need to know how to take a variety of approaches because every student is different."
She says that "humor is important because it teaches people how to give themselves a break."
Mrs. Reese served as deputy chair of the Department of Nursing from 1988 to 1998, and was then elected to the position of chairperson. She is now responsible for overseeing the bachelor and masters programs, in addition to being an associate professor at the college.
A REWARDING CAREER
Nursing for Mrs. Reese has reached far beyond the classroom. "It's been very rewarding to me," she said. "I've had many wonderful opportunities."
Mrs. Reese was lucky enough to be invited to a conference in Russia in 1997, which turned out to be an incredible learning experience. "You look at your own system and realize how much we have in this country and how much they don't have."
According to Mrs. Reese, Russia's medical system is a good 40 years behind us. "They don't have disposable supplies and they lack modern equipment -- two things which we take for granted."
The trip helped fulfilled her thirst for knowledge. "Russia was a lifelong dream of mine," said Mrs. Reese. "I love to visit places that I read about in textbooks."
Her travels have also taken her all over the world, but her favorite place was Italy. She dreamily recalls the "gorgeous flowers and the beautiful seashore."
Mrs. Reese recognizes that "in order to be a good nurse and a good teacher I have to have some R&R."
An active member of the community, she enjoys making crafts with the members of the Huguenot Reformed Church and belongs to the Staten Island chapter of the New York State Nurses Association. She is a past Staten Island Chapter president of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.
"I always try to find time to get involved," said Mrs. Reese.
That also includes serving on the CUNY Chancellor's Task Force of Nursing to rectify the nurse shortage. And from 1990 to 2000, Mrs. Reese acted as a consultant to the South Beach Psychiatric Center community advisory board.
LOOKING TOWARD THE FUTURE
She looks forward to what the future holds for nursing. "It was completely different when I graduated in 1968. There has been such an advance in procedures, lack of scarring, and amazing new medications.
Mrs. Reese is confident that it will only get better. "I think they'll learn more about how diseases affect people. They're already looking into genetic backgrounds and hopefully we'll be able to prevent some conditions, such as Alzheimer's, which is a very big problem nowadays."
Currently, Mrs. Reese is fervently trying to recruit future nurses. "I look forward to getting more nurses; we've put a lot of effort into it."
She explains that there is something for everyone in the field. "There are so many specialties in nursing, depending on your interests -- children, geriatric, public schools -- the work is hard, but the pay is good, and the rewards are many."