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Most of my life I have never been entirely sure what direction I have wanted to

pursue for a career. I have always been a happy person and a driven person. However, I
have constantly been scared to commit to a profession, until I found nursing or rather,
nursing found me.
I graduated from Michigan State University in 2004 with a degree in Human
Biology. With my new degree, I still could not find a job in Michigan. Since I could not
find a job, I decided to take some time off after graduation and travel to Hawaii with my
best friend. It was peaceful, relaxing, and an eye opener into my future. Most of my life
I had been selfish and uninterested in trying to better myself for the greater good. Being
with my best friend, who loves to save, well, really anything, I realized that I needed to
be a better person. She encouraged me to move to Denver, as I had always wanted to
move out West. I moved to Colorado in September of 2004 not knowing a soul. This
was liberating, scary, lonely, and amazing all at the same time. In a way I had a second
chance to figure out who I was and what I wanted to become.
I had a series of jobs and finally settled on a job working with Developmentally
Delayed Adults, which is where I finally figured out that I wanted to become a nurse. I
came to this epiphany more by luck than self-reflection. Somehow, I was a good listener
and helping my clients with medical appointments and medical terminology was
something I really enjoyed. Nursing seemed to be a logical and exciting next step. On
my nursing application my reason for applying was that I wanted to help people. In
January of 2009 I was lucky enough to have been accepted into nursing school and
graduated in May of 2011 with my BSN from The University of Colorado.
Wanting to help people is a very generalized phrase and a phrase I would
assume most people in the nursing profession use frequently. My definition of helping
people has changed dramatically over my three years as a nurse. According to Benner, I
began my nursing career in Stage 2, or as an advanced Beginner. An Advanced beginner
demonstrates marginally acceptable performance because the nurse has had prior
experience. As an Advanced Beginner my clinical practice objective was to help
people by making sure that I did not have a med error or that I did not cause them a
traumatic injury from how many times I stabbed them attempting phlebotomies and IV
starts.
My second year I was in Stage 3: Competent. I had been in similar situation for
two years and could demonstrate efficiency in my actions most of the time. This is when
I began feeling like a well rounded nurse and not a task oriented nurse. I could assess a
patient not just physically but also emotionally. Being a BMT/Oncology nurse the
emotional assessment is often times more important than the physical part, especially in
our End of Life Patients.
By year three, I have entered into Stage 4: Proficient. I can cluster care, multi-
task, and guide different levels of nurses toward answers. I have a weird sixth sense and
often times recommend transferring patients off of our unit to step down or ICU, just
because the situation does not feel right to me. Whereas before when I would transfer
patients to a higher level of care I would know that this was necessary because my charge
nurse recommended this to me. Now, I can perceive the patient as a whole rather than an
abnormal lab or vital sign. Not only do I understand the situation but can prepare for the
future care of the patient. I feel that I am now making recommendations to doctors and
my peers about patient situations rather than asking for recommendations.
So, what is my Philosophy of nursing? My husband once told me that people
dont start out making large unethical errors, they start by making a series of small ones
that turn into larger ones. The first unethical mistake you make and how you handle it
will determine your overall character in your profession. So, my nursing philosophy is
integrity. Nobody really knows how you talk to your patients or how you care for them
but you. Integrity is what defines nurses especially in their everyday practice.
Working in a large teaching hospital things are really, really, really busy. A
thirteen hour day feels like an hour and often times you cannot remember what you did
except survive the day. As I remind my patients that they need to pee every four hours, I
know that I in fact have drank approximately 0 mls of water and gone to the bathroom
one time during my shift. There are always more things that you can do for your patient
and more ways you can help them. You can educate them more, give them a bath, or just
sit with and talk them. I wish I had more time to talk with my patients and help them
navigate through scary life changing situations, but I always try. The first time that you
do not look up a med before giving it or do not report an error that you have made, then
you have compromised your integrity. I promised myself that no matter the cost or how
much I do not want to do something, I would not cut corners and would make sure to
hold myself to the highest standards in health care. Nurses are intelligent, trustworthy,
and must have integrity.
I think as an Oncology nurse I tend to compartmentalize my feelings. So many
horrible things happen to such wonderful people and it forces you to think about death, a
lot. My philosophies and values have changed dramatically over my past three years as a
nurse. No longer do I get angry when I have to wait for my Starbucks coffee or that I
have to wait for thirty minutes for a table at a restaurant. Now I try to just appreciate the
fact that I can go out to eat or get a special drink. My nursing philosophy has evolved
from a scared entitled nurse to that of a much more accepting and tolerant one. I have
realized that most of the time when patients are angry or rude, it is because they are
scared. If they are demanding and yell a lot, it is because they are scared. If they joke
and seem detached, it is because they are scared. People process in very different ways
and as a nurse it is our job not only to care for them medically but also emotionally.
Patients do not need to know or should not have to know how bad your day is, they need
you to be present and take care of them. I have learned that in the hospital my patients
come first and that being present is the best thing you can give to a patient.
So, with all the high stresses and demands associated with being a nurse, I also
feel that it is critical to have a good support system outside of work. You need to be
balanced and healthy yourself. If you dont take good care of yourself, then you will be
unable to care for other people well. I feel I learned this the hard way. In December of
2012 I had my second baby. After maternity leave, I thought that it would be a great idea
to come back to work on a night contract as I would have more time with my kids. I
quickly realized that not sleeping was both unsafe for my ability to care for my patients
and also for my well-being. I became irritated and angry at life. My husband, parents,
managers, and friends all pointed out to me that I wasnt myself. I thought about my life
and what kind of a nurse I wanted to be and that turned out to be a balanced one. I wasnt
exercising, eating well, or doing anything fun. I was simply surviving and in turn I was
becoming increasingly unavailable for my patients. So, I changed my schedule and
started doing something that I wanted to do at least once a week. I started learning to
knit, seeing my kids for who they are not what I wanted them to be (and loving this even
more), I started hiking again, reading at night instead of watching TV, date nights with
my husband, connecting with friends, being outside every chance I could, and just trying
to notice the all of the wonderful things in life like sunshine and actually tasting coffee,
not drinking it to stay awake. Once I started doing these things for myself, I noticed a
huge difference in my mood at work. I could do anything for my patients and I wanted
to not because I had to. I believe in order to be a great Oncology nurse you have to
care about you too and take the time to care for yourself.
Since deciding to credential I feel I have found a new purpose at work. I feel
invigorated and challenged at work in a way I had not felt before.





Benner, P. (1984) From Novice to Expert: Excellence and Power in Clinical Nursing
Practice. Menlo Park: Addison-Wesley, pp. 13-34.