Ah, the million dollar question. Short in length, yet rich in complexity. I find that my answer to this question is constantly evolving and maturing as I gain more confidence, experience, and knowledge.
It all goes back to 2003, in Mrs. G’s third grade classroom where I proudly proclaimed that I wanted to work with children as a schoolteacher. Which in retrospect is slightly hilarious as I was still a child myself. I held firm to this assertion for next six years. My freshman year of high school, I had an opportunity to volunteer in a pediatric hospital, and I felt my heart shift. I LOVED it. We worked alongside a Child Life Specialist, a pediatric health care professional who helps children and families adjust to the stress of illness and hospitalization, and this became my new focus; I was to become a Child Life Specialist!
During my senior year of high school, I volunteered with the Child Life department in an outpatient pediatric oncology clinic. I provided entertainment and companionship for patients and their families as they awaited treatment at the clinic. The children filled my days with joy and activity as I chased them around the waiting room or assisted them in constructing the tallest block towers. After twenty minutes of play, a name would be called, a friendly face would appear, and the child would gravitate toward this comforting presence. These figures, armed with a stethoscope and a smile, immediately captivated my attention.
Some call them nurses, but in reality, they were so much more; they were teachers, friends, scientists and problem-solvers. They appeared to be the light at the end of a very dark tunnel for so many patients and families. They represented hope and relentless support during times of great turmoil. To me, there was something so special and humbling in the work of a bedside nurse. In the twenty-first century, there remain very few professions that allow for such close and intimate human interaction.
That was it; my “ah-ha” moment, and I have never waivered since. Nursing combines all of my passions and continues to challenge and inspire me everyday. I feel so grateful, humbled, and proud to call myself a future nurse.