Today, I went to an information session for Banner Fellows. Essentially, they pay for your education and in cooperation with the college facilitate your nursing degree through a 16month accelerated program. In exchange you agree work to for them for 3 years after graduation, basically a guaranteed job and training as a new grad. It is uber competitive, there were well over 200 people there for the information session, which they hold once a month, for only 120 slots to be filled over the course of one year.
On my way out I picked up an application, which you can only get at one of their information sessions. The form includes some basic info and 4 essay questions. I did a lot of thinking on the way home about those questions. Mainly, I thought about what drew me to pursue nursing as a career in the first place. When I was growing up my mother worked for a pediatric hematologist oncologist, a doctor who treated kids with cancer and leukemia. I vividly remember her tears over patients they had lost, their funerals a confusing blur of death and grief for me. I recall going to Make A Wish events, not understanding that these children were receiving what in many cases was their last wish before they died. I swore I would never work in the medical field, never be around sick children, never deal with the suffering and sorrow.
Fast forward 15 years to the birth of my first child, the most joyful and tragic experience of my life thus far. He was beautiful, tiny and perfect with ten fingers, ten toes, and a sprinkling of fine blond hair. Three days after his birth our world turned upside down when he was diagnosed with a complex congenital heart defect known as Tetralogy of Fallot. The first year of his life included a helicopter ride to Childrens Hospital along with emergency surgery, we almost lost him that night - he was 7 months old. Eight months later, he had his second open heart surgery, the summer before this last one he had his third.
I will never forget the day he was diagnosed, one of the nurses that had been caring for him asked to come and talk to us. We were a wreck at this point, not knowing what the future held. The nurse sat down and told us her brother had been born 40 years earlier with the same defect as our son and that he was still alive, healthy, and a father of 5 children. In that moment of desperation we had hope, that nurse held our hand, watched us cry, and gave us hope.
As I am typing these words right now, tears are running down my face. It's still difficult to relive any portion of that time period of my life without getting emotional. That nurse never knew how much she touched our lives. She was the first of many nurses that cared for our son over the past 7 years that made a difference, not only in his health, but also in my perspective on the field of medicine and specifically nursing. It takes a special person to be a nurse, to not only fulfill the clinical part of their job, but to look at each patient as a person and treat them with care, dignity, and respect.
I know medicine is about struggles and challenges and yes, sometimes patients die, it's an inevitable part of life. So many people though live, they live, and their lives are touched by the care they receive. I want to take care of people, to watch them get better and go home, to understand that not everyone can be saved, but to give the most I can each and every day to do my part to help them. I can think of no more satisfying career than one that allows me to help people, to work daily at the task of preserving our most precious gift - that of life.