I never dreamed of being a nurse. In fact, I dreamed of avoiding that profession like the plague. As a child, I watched my mom working hard: first as a respiratory therapist and later struggle through the challenges of nursing school. Once she began her nursing career, she would often come home stressed and exhausted when she would share her experiences at work that were never positive. It didn't seem very appealing to me. I would instead become a lawyer or maybe even a veterinarian since I loved animals so much. When I graduated high school, I entered college with no real plan for my future. I dropped out and got involved in many of the wrong things. I became pregnant at the age of 20 and soon realized I would have a child depending on me to provide. My prospects at the time were looking very bleak. I worked through my pregnancy as a waitress until the DAY I gave birth.
When I saw my son for the first time, I made a promise to him and myself that I would make sure to make better decisions and be the person God created me to be. Soon after his birth, I enrolled in a community college with the resolve that I would become a Registered Nurse. I excelled this time in all of my courses and thrived on the challenges I was faced with as a working college student and young, single mom. I applied for a competitive nursing program and was accepted. I was thrilled but had no idea the adventure I would soon embark on. Nursing school was nothing like I had imagined. It was HARD! I struggled daily to balance my motherly duties and the high expectations of being a nursing student. Without the help of my grandmother and my mother, I would not have been able to achieve this goal.
I finally graduated 17th in my class and went on to take my State Board examination, which I passed with flying colors. No amount of schooling could have prepared me to face the reality of being the sole person responsible for the life of another. As a new nurse working nights on a medical-surgical floor, I felt ill-prepared to make appropriate assessments and manage the multitude of responsibilities that arose on any given shift. I felt my hospital lacked accessible policy and procedure and that doctors did not seem invested in the patients under their care. I struggled for 2 years working on the floor and finally made the decision that working a 12-hour shift at night was not conducive to being a single mom. I loved my career and I loved caring for patients but my son was my priority.
Against my better judgment, I interviewed with a home health care company and was hired on the spot with pay significantly exceeding what I was making as a hospital nurse. The home health care environment presented a new set of challenges, but I felt much more connected to my patients and their everyday lives. Eight years later I'm still working as a home health care Registered Nurse, and I look forward to going to work every day and making a difference in the lives of my patients. My goal is to keep them healthy, happy, and at home where they are comfortable. I love the role that education plays in the community nurse setting. I love the flexibility of being able to bring my son to school and pick him up every day. I love the knowledge and skill set that is gained providing care for patients in their homes oftentimes with limited resources.
I thank God for the guidance that he offered me in choosing a career path that will stay with me forever. The knowledge and relationships that I have built make me a better human. I have never once regretted my decision to become a nurse, and am often thankful that I have a secure career and have the benefit of meeting so many wonderful, primarily geriatric patients that teach me so much about life.
Thank you, K Gifford, RN