fl Chapter 2 - OUR INSPIRATION
VISIT YEAR OF THE NURSE  |  SUBMIT YOUR STORY

CHAPTER 2

Stories of What Shaped a Nurse’s Journey

Creating an environment of hope for my patient and his family is the heart of nursing.

Being a nurse means caring for my patient with my head, my heart, and my hands. Being observant and understanding what my patient is, and is not, telling me. Protecting my patient’s privacy, even to the exclusion of all others that wish it. Creating a plan of care together and returning often for his input and affirmation. Gently and respectfully doing, for my patient, the personal care he said he would never let anyone do for him. Listening to my patient’s anger and frustration with his declining health, and his diminishing freedom and choices. Helping my patient and his family understand their fears. Creating an environment of hope for my patient and his family, I believe, is the heart of nursing. Working in Home Health Care allows me to know my patient and enables me to care for him holistically. Home Health is where I find meaning in the nursing profession.

Alana Koepl
Home Health Nurse
Tri-Cities, WA

Caring begins with listening.

Mya Yee Nandar, MSN, FNP
Mindat, Chin State, Myanmer

I learned to advocate for more holistic practices to better care for the broader needs of my patients.

I knew since I was a child that I would be a pediatric healthcare provider — I carried my medical bag and never hesitated when asked. I did in fact become a pediatric hematology/oncology nurse. I loved the authenticity and joy and integrity of caring for children who did not have ulterior motives to keep from healing. And oncology nursing was a brilliant combination of highly technical practice combined with enduring relationships with the patients and their families.

Over the years, it began to really affect me that, despite dozens of scheduled and PRN medications to treat symptoms, my patients still experienced troubling symptoms. I learned to advocate more for holistic practices to better care for the broader needs of my patients. I found that there was not a lot of research upon which to advocate. So I decided to go to school to pursue my PhD so that I could create evidence to improve patient care. I graduated with my PhD in 2008, had my first child one month later, and have been exceptionally grateful to work as a clinical nurse researcher ever since. My days are joyfully (and nerdly) filled with helping clinicians explore opportunities for better patient care; and we have many discussions about holistic theoretical frameworks to ensure we are treating the whole person. I am so grateful to be a nurse.

My mom is 74 years old and still works a couple of days a week in the cardiac cath lab. RN, BSN, MBA, Professor, DON. She’s done it all and passed it on. I’m a nurse. My brother is a CRNA. And now my daughter, her granddaughter, is in nursing school. Quite a legacy my mom has!

Eve Silverstein, BSN, RN
Labor & Delivery

Labor & Deliver Nursing is a legacy. My mother is a retired nurse along with her sisters. My daughter is a nurse pursing APRN. Twenty-seven years ago, I spoke a pledge of honor to assist in nursing practice using the gifts of mercy, compassion, and healing. Nursing is a representation of life.

Belinda Burnette, MSN, BSN, RN
Emergency Medicine

My mother was an LPN who died at age 43 before she could achieve her dream of becoming a registered nurse. I never wanted to be a nurse but after her death, I wanted to take up the mantle to carry on her legacy of caring. I can only hope that she is proud of the work that I have done in the past and the work I will continue to do in the future. I plan to advocate for mental illness at the federal level to improve our country’s funding for treatment. Advocacy is one of the most important aspects to this profession.

Angel Patterson-Tetuan
Psych-Mental Health

My daughter is 3rd generation RN, and we work at the same hospital. Seeing her in action reminds me every day of my calling to this noblest of all professions.

By getting my Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, I can take the support I give my nursing team to the next level.

I have the privilege to lead an amazing nursing team during these unparalleled times. They never cease to amaze me in the way that they are able to keep up with all of the changes that have occurred during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and yet provide quality, compassionate care. The challenges that they have faced are significant, but their resilience has been extraordinary. To say that I am proud is an understatement. It is an absolute honor to support them and be their colleague. And in getting my DNP, I can take that to the next level by helping my staff deliver the best patient care that they can and be the best leader that I can.
Lynn Kosar, MSN, RN, NEA-BC
CHIEF NURSING OFFICER AND SPONSORED CAPELLA UNIVERSITY DNP STUDENT

My Story of Community Health Nursing

The importance of humility … of not letting people stop you from doing what is right … to see the face on the other side … to walk the talk and to dream of a better world.

Barbara Josephine Ensign, DrPH, ARNP
Community and Public Health
Seattle, WA

Daniela Sanchez, BlSeNr, RN-BC
PICU Travel
Gainesville, FL

 nurse

I started my nursing career way before I graduated nursing school. I’ve always loved caring for others and being a helping hand when I’m needed. I love working with kiddos. They are so resilient, and, despite all their struggles, they can still manage to give smiles and that just brightens my day! I started out as a floor nurse in a peds unit then went to a pediatric congenital heart ICU. This year I started to do travel nursing, and I have kept my job in the PCVICU in Gainesville as well. I love what I do. Kids have all the strength in the world, and they keep me strong when I can’t be strong myself. I love the families I work with. They are the strongest and go through the hardest decisions and events in their lives. I see it as a blessing to be a small part in their journey towards seeing their children recover. This image is from a medical mission trip in which I volunteered in Honduras. Such a blessing to be able to help within the profession God has granted me.

To be a nurse takes patience, kindness, empathy and love to enjoy what we do each and every day. Every patient I meet I think of them as my family member and how I want them to be treated in the hospital. It gives me joy to provide top-quality care to people.

Flo Mullings, MSN, BSN, RN
Behavioral Health

As a Corpsman I was mentored by Navy nurses in my first duty in an ICU. I was amazed and inspired by what I have seen nurses do for their patients. After my time in service I became LPN, RN, and also earned my MSN. I am forever grateful to those nurses for the inspiration.

Elline Fellores, MSN, RN
Psychiatric Nurse

As I adjust to retirement, I reflect on what a privilege it has been to touch so many lives. I was the little girl that never wanted to be anything other than a nurse. As nurses, we have the opportunity to provide care at the best and worst moments of people’s lives. That is a gift.

Laura Cato, BSN, RN, CNN
Nephrology

I remember how proud I was when I first got my ADN in 1999. I worked so hard getting through school and caring for two small children. The pride I felt when getting my BSN 15 years later was even greater. I hope my example shows my children that you can do anything with hard work.

Kathleen Atencio, BSN, RN
Ambulatory Care

NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO DIE ALONE

Sixteen years ago, I worked nights in the surgical ICU of our Central NY hospital. I had only been there a few years, so I was still the “newbie.” Newer ICU nurses always received the empty bed assignments because they were usually good admission experiences. This midnight, I had the empty bed, along with another patient who required hourly monitoring following a surgical procedure. The patient being admitted to me from our ER was a very elderly gentleman, who was in his last hours of life. I believe he was admitted from a nursing home, after being discovered unresponsive on nighttime rounds.

I had never had a patient without family, no less one who was going to pass from this earth at any time.

The gentleman was a “Do Not Resuscitate (DNR),” and it gave me pause to try and understand why he was being admitted to the ICU if he did not want to be revived should his heart stop. It was not long after I admitted this patient, who was still greatly unresponsive, but maintaining minimal vital signs on IV fluids only, when I was told by the covering practitioner that the man had no family, and other than his DNR, he had no other wishes in writing. The practitioner had to go see other patients, and many of my work colleagues were at nightly dinner in the break room on the ICU.

As my patient was not awake enough to speak and his heart rate was slowing down (but it never slowed to a long pause or stop on each episode), I was at a standstill as to what to do. I had never had a patient without family, no less one who was going to pass from this earth at any time. Being the middle of the night, and with limited patient history, I could not even call on a spiritual care colleague to help him (and me).

Finally, I did what I never thought ICU nurses did (or any nurses did except one whom I met many years prior to this occasion when I was working as a nurse aide). The flash-thought of what I witnessed her do back then gave me direction and purpose. I closed the curtain to the outside unit, sat in bed next to the gentleman, held his hand and then clung to him, alongside his frail body, and told him, “It is OK. You are loved, and you have permission to leave when you feel it right.”

I was in a state of fear (for being in a patient’s bed and consoling him as he neared a natural death). But at the time, it felt right. It was only a matter of minutes after I held onto him that I heard the familiar long EKG alarm, and I noticed he was not breathing anymore. I respectfully wished his spirit well, began to cry uncontrollably, and I turned off the EKG and alarms. It was not my first patient to pass away, but it was one I will never forget. No one should have to die alone.


Today, I try to share that story, when it is appropriate, and I always remember the nurse, way back when I was a nursing aide, who sat in bed with an unhappy patient and made him feel better in what I believe was an attempt to “be where he was” and provide comfort when others might merely have labeled him non-compliant or verbally abusive and walked away. Forever in your debt …
I became a nurse because I wanted to work with my Native people in our Indian Health Service facilities. My family used these when I was a child and I would see their Public Health Nurses come to homes in our village and at the school I attended giving us our immunizations. They were my inspiration.
Being a nurse means giving every day to anyone that has a need. I wake up knowing that my work changes lives because I give it my all! I am a school nurse for a bilingual low-income community which allows me to teach students and entire families. Being a nurse makes me love life!

Caring

has made all the difference.

I have been an RN for 35 years and have loved every new experience and area where I’ve worked and learned. It has been a wonderful, flexible career that allowed me to mix service with science to the benefit of my patients. I have had many memorable patients through the years in med-surg, NICU, OB, organ transplant, and pediatrics, but one stands out as a crucial foundational experience that helped shape the kind of nurse I would become — one that is ethical, driven to excellence, and open to learn new things.

I entered nursing in the beginning of an epidemic and met “EW” when I was a baby nurse in 1984. He was diagnosed with full-blown AIDS when all we knew about it was that it was contagious and it killed everyone who got it. Scary stuff for a brand new grad on the HemOnc unit. EW was end-stage, angry, and lashing out at every one who entered his room. I was able to connect with him on a human-to-human level and broke through. He calmed and then requested me every time I was on duty, just for showing him that while I was scared, I wanted to treat him well and offer him care to the best of my abilities.

Caring has made all the difference. It taught me so much about trying to connect with my patients, being genuine with them and always offering human kindness along with the science of nursing. I have tried to always remember EW and practice nursing in that manner to the benefit of all my thousands of patients over these years.

People see the picture of me in my nursing cap and white uniform taken so many years ago and say, “You really WERE a nurse!” I reply, “I AM a nurse!” I am also a nurse educator and nurse scientist. Nursing is not what I do, it is who I am. Proud to be a nurse, now and forever.