Yesterday I had the privilege and honor to talk with Dr. Cathleen Shultz, Dean of Harding University’s Carr College of Nursing. Dr. Shultz has been the Dean of Harding’s nursing program since the 1970’s, when I was a student at Harding. Harding’s Carr College of Nursing is one of the most respected nursing education programs in the US, and the world. I am proud to be a Harding graduate. I have spent the past 12 hours reflecting upon my nursing career, and my current role. Harding prepared me to be a very competent nurse, in whatever role I chose to pursue. I remember in one of the last classes I had with Dr. Shultz she encouraged us to view nursing as more than the nursing roles that take place inside the “four walls of the hospital”. Nursing is bigger, much more expansive, and not limited to what takes place inside a hospital.
Upon graduating from Harding I moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, and worked as a staff nurse/preceptor/charge nurse in critical care for 6 years, then moved to Morgantown, WV, where I worked for more than 15 years in the Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center (ER and Post-Anesthesia Care Unit). In 1999 I became a nursing instructor at WVU School of Nursing, and in 2002 I worked for a little less than a year as a staff nurse again in the ER of a community hospital. For 22 years I worked as a Registered Nurse in traditional nursing roles. I loved critical care, and giving direct patient care. I also loved teaching. The relationships I developed with my students are some of the most rewarding of my professional career.
Today, I am still a nurse, still “doing” nursing. I am no longer in a traditional role, wearing a starched white uniform or blue hospital scrubs. I no longer have a stethoscope wrapped around my neck, a BP cuff in one hand, and a hypodermic needle in the other. Yet, I am still actively “doing” nursing. I now teach at a small, faith-based liberal arts university. Although we do not have a nursing program I promote health every single day at the university. We have a Wellness Health Sciences Program and a teacher education Wellness program (preparing graduates to teach PE and Health, K-12), and I teach a variety of health courses and one introductory human biology course. I am also active in the larger city/county community.
Please bear with me as I share with you the ways that I am “doing” nursing. I am actively nursing when…
• Assessing a student who comes to my office to ask me about the rash on his abdomen and back
• Talking with a student who comes to my office to ask me about the signs and symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease vs. a urinary tract infection, and what she should do
• The receptionist calls me down to the front lobby to see a student who is dizzy and light-headed
• Teaching about cultivating healthy relationships in my Human Sexuality Class
• A dorm resident comes to ask me about bed bugs, and together we go to her dorm room and determine if there are bed bugs (there weren’t any)
• Teaching students in my epidemiology class how to analyze a health related research study, develop their own conclusions, compare their conclusions with the researchers’ conclusions, and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the study
• Teaching students in my epidemiology class how personal health choices impact community and population health status
• Teaching students in my First Aid class how to assess for a heart attack, stroke, anaphylaxis, fractured bones, or a diabetic emergency, and how to intervene and care for the patient until emergency personnel arrive
• Teaching students in my Senior Seminar class how to assess graduate programs and career opportunities in Wellness, Epidemiology, Fitness, Physical Therapy, or Nursing
• Speaking in Chapel & Assembly at the college where I work, teaching students/faculty/staff about body size diversity, focusing on fitness, and the 30-Day-Challenge
• Serving on the university Crisis Management Team
• Serving on the Wood & Wirt County Local Emergency Planning Committee
• Serving on the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Ministry Council
• Teaching students in my A&P for Wellness class to understand normal and abnormal physiology
• Serving on the Institutional Review Board development team for university research
• Serving on the Undergraduate Research Committee
• Teaching health promotion, risk reduction, and health lifestyles in all my classes
• Writing posts for this blog
Because I am a nurse I bring knowledge and experience to my classes and community that create a unique learning experience. I encourage my students to develop measurable goals for health, and advocate personal responsibility for wellness. I now consider myself a community health nurse. I live and work in a vibrant community. I interact with community members, and have a degree of influence over members of my community. I advocate for health literacy, and making the best decisions possible.
Nursing is a dynamic profession with many opportunities to branch out, much like a tree. All the different branches, or specialties, arise from the same root source–basic nursing education. The American Nurses Association describes nursing as “the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations” (http://nursingworld.org/EspeciallyForYou/What-is-Nursing). This description is broad, touching the lives of individuals, families and communities, wherever they may be. There are many different fields of nursing, as well as many different roles for professional nurses. The opportunities are limitless. I have the privilege of serving in a unique nursing role.
Still a nurse, and still following through,