4th Quarter, 2005
Nursing Scholarship Winner
She is originally from Providence, Rhode Island and moved to New York to attend New York University in 1998. There she attained a bachelors degree in Sociology and during her time at NYU, traveled to Buenos Aires in Argentina where she was able to participate in volunteer work. After college, Caroline was accepted to work with Americorps-Healthcorps division in Berkeley, California. There she helped to create a Clinic specifically targeting the homeless youth in the area. She worked with the HIV clinic on creating a computerized system for their care maintenance records, and helped to insure the residents of the East Bay in free/low cost health care.
After Americorps, Caroline went back to New York to work for the AIDS Service Center of New York as an intensive case manager. Caroline assisted her clients in obtaining housing, healthcare, mental health care and financial benefits. Caroline worked at ASC for two years before deciding to go back to school
A Portion of Caroline’s Winning Essay:
“I want you to help me keep my baby,” my client “Dora” stated upon getting assigned to my caseload of thirty at the AIDS Service Center where I work as a case manager.
Dora had been using crack-cocaine for 17 years, been in and out of jail and had eight children all of whom are in foster care. She was now five months pregnant, HIV positive and had come to ASC for assistance in finding a detox program, prenatal care, HIV medical care, parenting classes and outpatient substance abuse treatment. In three months I was able to secure everything Dora needed to keep her baby.
In my continued work at ASC I find that this case is typical in that all thirty of my clients have, in one way or another, been disregarded by a system that was designed to help them. My clients enrolled in case management services because they were lacking the attention necessary for one who has a triple-diagnosis of addiction, mental illness and an HIV diagnosis. After working with HIV positive individuals for almost 8 years I have continually seen the importance of holistic and comprehensive approaches to care.
My passion for working with individuals who are HIV positive ignited when I was volunteering at AIDS Project Rhode Island in 1995. The Center for Disease Control was beginning to notice an upsurge in the number of young adults that were being infected with the virus. I helped the organization design a Teen HIV/AIDS Hotline and assisted with finding inventive ways to disperse condoms in high schools.
This volunteer work was a turning point in that I realized how much politics affected the treatment of this disease. I saw very little compassion for those infected, and I grew very frustrated. This callousness fueled my desire to continue working with this specific population in the hopes that I could provide the compassion that was so sorely needed.
I attended New York University and majored in sociology. Most of the classes that I took examined patterns and existing structures in America that promote the glaring inequalities that I continue to see. The classes and my experiences at NYU enabled me to put words to the frustration I was feeling, and I left college determined to assist those whom the system continued to neglect.
After college graduation, I was chosen to participate in an Americorps program called Healthcorps, which assigned me to a clinic in Berkeley, California. There I worked with the clinic’s HIV specialist and was responsible for conducting research that would improve the quality of care given to the HIV positive patients.
Another element of my year of service with Healthcorps was working with the clinic director to create, design and implement a Youth Clinic that targeted the homeless youth of Berkeley and Oakland. To reach this specific demographic required extensive street outreach in the homeless communities and youth organizations. My training in needle exchange protocol allowed me to connect with the homeless youth while providing a service and education on harm reduction practices. The clinic proved to be a success, and we began to serve more and more youth as the weeks progressed.
Working for Healthcorps reaffirmed that my skills are best used working with underserved communities. It was also at the clinic in Berkeley where I specified my desire to be a Nurse Practitioner. During a routine physical, the NPs wouldn’t limit their conversation with the patient to a discussion of symptoms but would ask about the patient’s family, substance abuse issues and mental health concerns and would ask if the patient had a place to sleep that night. I realized that this is what I had been hoping to find: a profession that incorporates a more comprehensive view of healthcare.
I am interested in working towards becoming a Nurse Practitioner because I am seeking an approach to medical care that emphasizes the study of all aspects of a person’s health, including physical, psychological, social, economic and cultural factors. I would like to continue to work with adults and adolescents in HIV specific care. I want to be involved in improving healthcare to underserved communities and actively advocating for the rights of my patients. I want to continue working with clients like Dora who have a host of pressing issues that need to be collectively addressed.
I also want to affect positive change in a system that did not help Dora during her 17 years of drug use and eight births. The RN to NP accelerated degree will give me the skills and tools necessary to serve a population in dire need of more comprehensive and more compassionate health care.
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