During my two and a half years of bedside nursing in critical care, I have learned a great deal about myself. There are many experiences I have to reflect on but one will always stand out to me. I had a patient and family who had been waiting all day for the results of a lung biopsy.
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Finally, around 1600 the doctor came in and broke the news that the patient had stage 4 lung cancer and three months to live. I could see the shock and numbness flood the patient and family members’ bodies. The doctor continued talking very quickly giving them their options and then just walked out of the room as if nothing had happened. The family was in such a state of shock they hadn’t even heard their “options.” I explained everything to them on a more personal level and just sat with them for a moment trying to help them process the information. They were very appreciative that I had taken the time to do so. This experience alone made me realize I wanted to do primary care. Making relationships with my patients and building trust through holistic quality care is extremely important to me. It is so easy to become desensitized to these types of situations and become too busy to take time to sit down with patients and listen to their stories, but I like to remind myself that each patient is going through a very vulnerable and possibly life-changing experience. They deserve the same type of respect I would give a family member going through the same situation.
I love being a nurse but have a desire to learn more. Obtaining an advanced degree will increase my overall understanding of the whole picture of the disease process. For example, learning what goes into education, prevention, diagnosing and treating of patients. As a family nurse practitioner education and prevention would be a main focus of mine. Chronic diseases are a major cause of death and many of these are preventable. As a critical care nurse, I have seen a lot of chronic diseases that have progressed to late stages and always wonder if there would have been a different outcome had prevention played a role in this patient’s life early on. A lot of time as an Advance Practice Registered Nurse would be devoted to education and health promotion through counseling sessions on important topics, regular check-ups, and routine screenings. I have a particular interest in cancer prevention and screenings because personally, I have seen many family members get diagnosed at late stages. This is something I want to help prevent for other families by appropriately educating and screening. Having interactions with nurse practitioners on my unit and seeing how much knowledge they have, not only of the health concern but also of the patients themselves has left an impression on me. To truly treat patients holistically in every aspect is what I aspire to do.
Ultimately rural communities have my heart as I am from a rural community. Volunteering with Remote Area Medical has allowed me to see what serving an underserving population looks like as they offer free clinics to people who have no insurance. For some of these patients, it is the only access they have to healthcare all year. As a family nurse practitioner, I would want nothing more than to provide healthcare to these types of populations. With little to no access to healthcare, these people need the most help. It would be so rewarding to make this kind of impact on a community. When time would allow I would also love to travel internationally for medical missions and be a leader in a global society.
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