1st Quarter, 2007
Nursing Scholarship Winner
Since completing her BSN, Michelle has become a American Nurses Credentialing Center Board Certified Pediatric Nurse and worked in multiple pediatric hospitals including LeBonheur Children’s Medical Center in Memphis, Tenn., Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, and Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children at University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Miss. with emphasis in Pediatric Emergency and Critical Care. She is an active clinical preceptor and teaches American Heart Association CPR and Pediatric Advanced Life Support Courses and Emergency Nurses Association Trauma Nursing Core Course. She is the first Mississippian to become certified as a Certified Transport Nurse by the Emergency Nurses Association.
She is currently the Trauma Performance Improvement Coordinator at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, MS and is enrolled in the Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
A Portion of Michelle’s Winning Essay:
I did not always want to become a nurse. Before nursing school, my vision of nurses where women who wore white scrubs, emptied bed pans, and followed doctors around. That image of nursing didn’t really change for me until I decided to go to nursing school, after 3 years unhappily invested in a Biology degree.
While taking an undergraduate English Composition course, a representative from the career center at the University of Mississippi spoke to our class about a new test evaluating personality and matching it with a career. Undecided about a career direction, I took the test. At the end of the test, three professions appeared on the screen ranked in order of closest match: 1. Nurse Practitioner, 2. Judge, and 3. Law Enforcement Agent.
Becoming a nurse practitioner was something I never considered before this test. I took this information and used my English Composition class as an avenue to explore. Our major assignment was to write a research paper. The working title of my paper, “How to Become a Nurse Practitioner,” quickly narrowed in to “Becoming a Nurse: Obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing,” one of the first requirements in applying to a master’s program in nursing.
In performing research, talking with nurse recruiters, and touring nursing schools across the country, I realized that nursing really did match my personality. Nursing involves every aspect that I had studied with plenty of room for diversity. I finally found the passion that was lacking in all those Biology and Chemistry courses. Nursing opened the doors to a new life incorporating everything I had learned without starting over from scratch. I began seriously looking at prerequisites and realized I lacked very little to apply to nursing school, so I took the leap, applied, and never looked back.
As I walked through the halls of 3 West at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, on the first day of adult clinical, taking in all the sights, sounds, and smells of a hospital ward, I didn’t know what I would do as a nurse, but I was certain it not be an adult floor nurse. I can’t tell you why I like taking care of children except that it comes naturally. A lifetime of being the oldest girl, babysitting, and having a brother 13 years younger than me probably biased my career but once I stepped through the doors of the Batson Hospital for Children, my views of hospitals changed-Bright walls, colors, wagons, child life activities, smiles, and most of all nurses who looked happy to be at work.
Using class electives and a part-time job with the department of neonatology, I focused every bit of extra time in nursing school working with children. After graduating nursing school, I dove head first in to the nurse intern program for new graduates at Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center as a new hire in the pediatric emergency room. The intern program incorporated didactic classes, research, group projects, and clinical time with a preceptor. Although, nervous, as we all are as new nurses, I felt fully prepared by the staff for my role as a Pediatric ER Nurse when orientation was completed.
Working at Le Bonheur Pediatric Emergency Room is the most significant real world nursing experience I have ehad in my career and continually fuels my excitement for emergency and critical care nursing. Everyday there, I saw the sickest of the sick, and the worst of the injured. With the variety and volume of patients that passed through those doors, I quickly rose from a new nurse to a fully functional strong team member from the excellent support I received from great nurses, physicians, and nurse practitioners that encouraged learning on all levels. This one job instilled in me most of the ideals I have about pediatric emergency nursing.
Although I loved my job, my husband and I moved to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where he began doctoral graduate study. I worked in the next best thing to a pediatric ER, a general ER, for a year and devoted time to learning about adult emergency care and obtaining more trauma education, but missed taking care of complex sick kids and hated transferring them to other facilities. So, I began to travel nurse to Pediatric ERs across the country including Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center in Memphis, Tennessee, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi.
While in Hattiesburg on breaks from assignments, I continued to work part time but again returned to staff nursing after we relocated to Jackson, Mississippi. Currently, I work at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMC) in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) as a senior staff nurse. I have worked in both the Pediatric ER and PICU at UMC while travel nursing and decided I needed more critical care experience.
Apprehensive about changing to a full time PICU nurse, I now recognize that I have become a more well- rounded nurse having broadened knowledge, skills, and scope of practice to provide critical care in a different setting. Critical care nursing requires a nurse to have excellent critical thinking skills and judgment that provides care in a manner that is sensitive to a family’s cultural and spiritual needs, protects those needs, and creates a compassionate and healing environment. Nurses continually teach and are continually learning newer and better ways to care for patients. And most importantly, nurses serve to bridge the gap between medical staff and patients so that families truly understand the plan of care.
I hear so many times, “Thank you, so much doctor.” What I really know, is that a nurse saved that person’s life. Critical care nurses are at the bedside, continually watching patients, trending changes, evaluating the plan of care, and notifying physicians when unexpected events take place, initiating life saving measures before a physician even arrives. Especially in a teaching hospital, nurses are directing resident doctors’ and even attending physicians’ decisions by informing them what will work best for that patient and how to manage difficult situations with their patients.
Luckily, I have been fortunate enough to have support from medical staff who value my advice. This is where my passion for nursing really lies. Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioners are able to continue to provide and direct care without compromising compassion. I feel that the human element is what draws people to nursing and why registered nurses become advanced practice nurses instead of physicians. Knowing that every decision we make affects someone and their families, keeps nurses closer to patients where they feel free to discuss with us their deepest concerns, happiest moments, and every suffering.
By knowing people, nurses can help make more holistic decisions regarding care. I value the contact with my patients and families and feel my strong foundation in pediatric emergency and critical care nursing to will enable me to further my knowledge and practice in an expanded role where I can be more involved in directing patient care. Having a high standard of care and refusing to waiver when patient acuity increases or stressful situations arise, the ability to think in a calm, organized manner and assertively direct and delegate patient care are essential to providing optimal patient outcomes. I feel these are attributes that I possess, in addition to sound clinical judgment, will aid in my success in graduate study as a Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.
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