I realized I liked hospitals when I was a little girl. My uncle was having seizures so badly at the time that he had to be hospitalized. My family always complained that the smell of hospitals made them sick, but I always enjoyed being inside. Hell, I even liked hospital food, and that's really saying something. My family used to bring home cooked meals in for my uncle while I hate his hospital dinners at his bedside.
As the years passed, I jumped at every opportunity to go to doctor's visits with my family. It helped that I was bilingual; I could help translate (even though this technically is not a good standard), and I got to go to the hospital again. Double win.
Then sometime in high school, I learned my grandpa had colon cancer. I was young and at a time in my life where all that mattered was friends, going out, and playing sports. I admit I wasn't the best daughter in these years (but really, who can really say that at that age?). I wasn't very involved with his care and I didn't know much about his condition. But I do remember being in biology class learning about DNA and how it applied to cancer and thinking "That's how that works? I'm going to find the cure for cancer one day" (LOL). And so I started to go to his chemotherapy sessions with him. And when his condition got really bad and required surgical intervention, I stayed with him overnight. My family took shifts with him. There was never a moment that he was alone when he was hospitalized. He taught me one of the biggest values in nursing: altruism. While going for an MRI, they forgot to remove staples from his surgery causing his skin to burn. My family wanted to sue, but he said "You never go against people trying to help you."
I went to undergraduate at Boston College as a biology, pre-med major. But I quickly convinced myself that I wasn't smart enough to be a doctor, and that I didn't want to go to school for that long. On my first day of classes, I was walking on campus when the nursing building came into view. "Nursing. That sounds good." So I walked right into the building, asked to switch my major, spoke to the dean, and got my new schedule for my nursing cores.
I liked all the nursing sciences, surprisingly, while my classmates complained. I complained, too, don't get me wrong. But I secretly enjoyed my anatomy and physiology class. I just went along with the ranting to blend in with everybody else. I didn't realize I genuinely enjoyed nursing though until my Introduction to Professional Nursing course. That class hit every cell in my body in ways I couldn't explain at the time. You know how with cancer, you have undifferentiated, proliferative cells? Well, imagine every cell in your body just being a normal cell in your body just hangin' out, and this class comes along and touches everyone of them like a game of tag and tells each one exactly what it's there for:
"You're here to learn science."
"You're here to listen to people and hear they're stories."
"You're here to take care of people."
"You're here to work the hospital with doctors."
And the list went on. The strongest pillars of nursing practice resonated so strongly with, what I thought, were my strongest assets as a person at the time: I liked science, I like listening to people and giving advice, I like being in the hospital. Boom. Everything made sense.
Since then, I've graduated from college and passed my NCLEX (that's the big licensing exam for wannabe nurses). I work at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston on an intermediate medicine floor. I've been there for a year now, and there are days I go to work and sit at my computer and think what the hell possessed anyone on God's green earth to put the lives of real, living people in my hands. I've learned a lot and I've also messed up a lot.
This blog contains my thoughts on the practice, stories that epitomize the essence of what nursing is, my two cents on the job, and . . maybe also a lot of bitching as well.
- Forever a new nurse, Cindy