Through my time searching for a potential career, I have learned that experiences can truly shape your future. One of my first experiences in healthcare was when I worked as a volunteer in the emergency room at a small hospital my junior year of college and learned to admire the incredible field of nursing. Not only did the nurses I worked with have such a high work ethic and intellect, they were also so compassionate and personable with every patient even during a stressful, busy shift. When there were multiple patients in need, they would calmly and patiently work through each case in a timely manner. This experience led me to going on a hospital placement trip in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic this past summer. This trip is when I found confirmation that nursing was my future path.
The hospital I was placed at in Santo Domingo was eye opening. Having worked in the American healthcare system, I was shocked when I walked into the hospital and saw hundreds of people waiting for medical attention with cheap bandages wrapped around bloody wounds. Healthcare in the Dominican Republic is free, so the care can be very depersonalized. The hospital was far from luxurious, but their biggest assets were the doctors and medical staff, all of whom were so eager to help us learn. They were brilliant at their jobs, but there still seemed to be an element missing.
I spent my first week observing surgeries within the anesthesiology department, seeing the inside of brains, broken femurs, and an entire small intestine. After this, I moved to a department with more patient doctor interaction. My second placement was in the pediatric trauma department and on my first day, we followed our mentor and a group of doctors, residents, and interns for rounds. When we walked into the first room I was introduced to a little boy named Dario. He was left outside of the hospital as a newborn baby because his birth parents couldn’t take on the responsibility that came with his diagnosis, arthrogryposis. Arthrogryposis is a disease that results from fetal akinesia and leaves the child with joint contractures, meaning he doesn't have much movement due to a joint being stuck in one position or extra tissue formed around the joint. Under these circumstances, Dario had been taken in by the hospital and lives there full time.
As the doctors started to examine him, they didn’t involve him in any of the conversation; they instead talked around him to each other. Dario kept looking around for some reassurance or perhaps just a hand to hold, while all these strangers were exchanging medical terms regarding his case. Dario continued to sit all alone while the last doctor in the room waited for his interns to answer his questions with the perfect answers. They seemed to be more concerned about the disease and the case rather than the patient.
Finally, the group of ten left the room and as soon as I was about to follow, I saw a woman in an all white outfit walk in. An all white outfit indicated a nurse in this hospital. I stopped for a second to see how she interacted with him and I'm so thankful I did. She walked in and his face lit up with a huge smile. She proceeded to give him a little fist bump and he tapped back with his foot because he doesn’t have use of his arms quite yet, and then she playfully tickled him, which led to a big grin on his face. She then continued to administer his medicine and double check everything to ensure he was comfortable all while talking with him. That was the patient care that had been missing for the last twenty minutes.
This was the pivotal moment I had been waiting for. I have always been interested in medicine and how the body functions, but I needed to find the appropriate track to pursue a career in it. I want to be the one to comfort someone on their worst day. I want to be the one to put a smile on someone's face after receiving bad medical news. I want to be able to give a child a high five when they find out they can finally go home. I want to be the one to help and educate people when they have questions about medicine. I fell in love with the profession when I realized how much patient care could affect someone’s stay at a hospital. I want to make a difference in my patient’s lives. It’s not enough to just tell them their diagnosis and cure them, but I would like to help them understand and be there for them on both their toughest days and best days. With a career in nursing, there are endless amounts of learning opportunities. You are constantly surrounded by changing medicine and bright minds, but there is also that satisfaction that you could make a difference in a patient’s life every single day. Knowing that would make coming to work everyday so easy and worthwhile.
I believe that I not only have the drive and determination, but also the compassion to become a great nurse in the future, just like Dario’s nurse. From the courses I’ve taken and throughout my continuing education, I will be able to apply all different aspects of science and nutrition to real world situations and use my problem solving skills to benefit my patients. I have acquired strong communication skills from my previous healthcare experiences and will continue to improve these throughout nursing school. My desire to make a positive impact on patient’s lives will make nursing a very fitting and rewarding career for me.