Why did you choose nursing? How did you know you wanted to become an RN? If you weren’t in nursing, what would your second career choice be?
Well, this kinda overlaps with the previous question about my dream job. But I had SO many questions on my path to becoming a nurse that I think I’ll address that whole career move in more detail now. It’s hard to imagine doing anything other than nursing now, but back when I started college I thought I wanted to be a doctor. Yep, I was a bio/pre-med major at UCLA. But before I get ahead of myself, I’ll back up a bit.
Growing up with a physician for a father, I always knew I wanted to do something in the medical field. It wasn’t anything I was pressured into, I just loved it. Biology was always my favorite subject in school, so it only seemed natural that I should follow that path. Only problem was, being pre-med at UCLA was the most competitive, cut-throat, insane environment. Ever. Also, biology was only 1% of the major. As you can imagine, the appeal in being pre-med was gone faster than LaLohan’s sense of smell. Since I wasn’t exactly sure what that medical something I wanted to do was, I just forged ahead with the bio major knowing I would eventually figured it out. I’d already killed my GPA with all the lower division O chem grunt work, so I figured I might as well get the letters and the diploma that goes along with it.
Sure enough, I graduated, and still wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do with my BS. RN, PA, PT, how could I know without ever seeing what each did? To pass the time, I got a job in a hospital (mammography). My job had me doing a whole assortment of things, but BY FAR my favorite part was talking to patients. While taking their history, I felt I was able to make them way more comfortable (which was hard to do given that they were about to get their boobs smashed in a vice-like apparatus). This passion for making patients feel at ease and opening communication with them was my first clue that I wanted to go into nursing. Obviously nursing requires more than just chilling with patients, but you know what I mean…Nurses are the ones who are the bridge in communication between patients and their doctors. They explain things to the family, they are the advocate for the patient when he/she can’t be that person for himself, and they are the ones who the patient bonds with during what is often the most difficult time in a person’s life.
So, after doing some research, I decided to pursue nursing. Since I already had a bachelors in bio, I discovered almost all of the prerequisite classes were taken care of, and I could apply for an accelerated nursing program. Nowadays there are several such programs, but they weren’t as popular or well known when I was applying. I continued to work at the hospital while I applied to a few schools, and ultimately, I decided on an 11 month program in Philly.
I loved it. It was hard. But I did well, graduated, moved to NYC, and found a job in the cardiac ICU.
Did you always know you wanted to be a cardiac nurse? Do you think this job is forever?
No and probably not.
To be honest, I loved almost every clinical rotation I had in nursing school, so I had no clue what field I wanted to start in once I graduated. The best thing about nursing though, is that you don’t necessarily have to choose one field and stick with it. Unlike medicine, picking a specialty doesn’t mean you are stuck on a path of no return. I’m hoping to eventually return to school (some time in the distant future), and get my N.P. (Nurse Practitioner). Since the unit I currently work on is run by an NP, I am basically being trained for the job now. I love being proactive in patient care, determining the problem before it happens, and taking action to eliminate (or at least minimize) it. Being able to know how and what to do requires critical thinking, and that’s one of the best parts about my current position that I enjoy thrive on. Looking at the clinical picture as a whole is way more than just following orders, and I love knowing enough to call the shots. So, if I can bridge the role of the nurse (with the bedside manner and passion for putting the patient first) and the doctor (with the ability to diagnose and put pen to paper orders to scripts), I think I will have found my true calling.
As a nurse working in a hospital, what are your feelings on universal healthcare?
Oh man. This blog is not intended for political purposes, so I’m going to skip this question. Plus, there is really no easy answer. The issue is as complicated as the lack of solutions.
Do you have any tips for new nurses?
Ask questions when you have them. Don’t ever stop learning. And always put the patient first. Always.