My name is Alex, and I’m in my senior year at the University at Buffalo School of Nursing. As your Nurse.com student blogger for the 2016-2017 school year, I will be sharing my nursing school experiences in my blogs, as well as helpful tips and insights about internships and clinical experiences. But let’s start with the story of why I became a nurse.
I have lived in Queens, N.Y., since I was 12 years old and was born in the Philippines, which is where my journey toward the nursing profession began. My mother was a practicing physician in the Philippines, and some of her patients struggled with health issues that we don’t view as routine in the U.S., such as serious oral hygiene deficiencies or malnutrition. Through her work I personally saw many wonderful people experience difficulty accessing healthcare resources.
My mother was dedicated and committed to serving these patients, sometimes without monetary return. It wasn’t uncommon for her patients to trade livestock in exchange for her care. She currently works as a nurse in the U.S. and is as dedicated to her patients today, as she was back then. Her work sparked my interest in nursing, and I continue to be motivated by her passion for helping others.
My interest in nursing developed into a passion when I worked as a recreational aide at a nursing home. Every day I looked forward to seeing the residents and enjoyed being able to help them in various ways, from assisting in their activities or at meals, helping them to the bathroom or just listening when they needed an ear.
“Betty,” a resident who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, had a lasting impact on me. She would sometimes forget her name, where she was or even that her son passed away. But despite the progression of her disease, she was full of joy. Months after my job ended, I went back for a visit, expecting her not to remember me. But Betty’s warm hug told me I was wrong. At that moment I finally understood a popular lesson: Know the patient and not the disease. Since then, I have aimed to be a nurse who focuses on patient-centered care and who takes a holistic view of patients’ treatment.
Later, I remember being extremely nervous and then overjoyed as I opened the admission letter from the University at Buffalo welcoming me to its program. The journey to get to that point wasn’t easy and I knew being a nursing student would be challenging, but I also knew it would be fulfilling. I was right — nursing school isn’t easy. It’s competitive, stressful and nerve-racking, but well worth the demands.
As your new student blogger, I hope to share some of my challenges and some tips on how to work through them. Here’s my first tip: When things seem overwhelming — you have a difficult clinical experience or a lesson isn’t quite sinking in, for instance — always make sure to reflect on your journey to this point. You chose this profession for a special reason. It may have been a role model, as my mom was to me, or a special person like Betty who convinced you to enter nursing. It might have been a nurse who cared for you. Or maybe it was your love of science, of helping others, of making a difference. My story and my patients are what keep me motivated and inspired. Remember your story. It can get you through the trying times.