Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to be a nurse. My mother was a nurse, so when I was real little I knew I looked up to her and that she made others happy. Her relatives and friends would call her and look to her for medical advice, and she always seemed available to lend an ear and bring them comfort. By the end of the phone call, her worried tone had changed to laughter and it was easier to understand that her curbside consult was well received.
As I got older, I got to understand more of the nurse’s role. When I was about 13, I became a candy striper. This was my first hospital experience and I was timid, but I enjoyed bringing smiles to the faces of the “sick” just by bringing them their mail, changing their bed sheets, or filling their drink cups. After many years I became a medical secretary, then a dental assistant, then a medical assistant, and finally a nurse.
When I was in school and working for an OB-GYN office, I began to watch what the nurse practitioners did and learned what their role was. They seemed to have so much autonomy and responsibility, but still could depend on someone above them when things got real tricky. I liked the idea of writing my own prescriptions, not having to take calls on nights and weekends so I could have a family life, and getting to wear a white lab coat.
School was trying and there were times I thought I would never make it, but I finally did and I am so happy I stuck with it. I have now been a nurse practitioner for nine years and I am still very satisfied with my career choice. It doesn’t bother me at all when I get asked for the millionth time, “When are you going to become a doctor?” or “Are you going to go on and be more than ‘just a nurse’?” I proudly say that I am satisfied with being a nurse practitioner, that I am humbled by my accomplishments, and that I enjoy having the extra time with my patients to laugh with them, cry with them, and lend them an ear.
Charting is long and tedious and I spend hours after work attempting to catch up, but when I am able to diagnose something correctly and treat it so that someone truly feels better and they are filled with gratitude, it continues to fill me up and make me realize there is nothing I would rather be doing.
Medicine definitely isn’t black and white and no two patients or diagnoses are the same, so there is never chance for boredom. As Charles Dickens once said, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of others.” I treat patients as I would want my family to be treated, and I think this direction has always kept me on the right path and prevented the burnout that people in this profession often experience.