Well I’ve survived one term of my program and I can happily say that I’m 1/5 of a nurse! I’m excited and nervous to start term #2 and anxious to get into the hospital this time around. I think getting to apply some of our new knowledge in clinical situations is going to teach us so much more than our books ever could by themselves.
In thinking about being in the hospital, I’m also thinking about where I hope to end up in my career someday. My largest areas of interest are pediatric critical care and pediatric oncology. I often get asked why I would want to work in an area that would inevitably be sad sometimes. My answer to that is not a simple one but I will do my best to explain it.
Cancer, in all of it scary awfulness is a unifying entity. Nearly everyone is touched by this disease at some point in their life. Whether it be through a loved one, a friend, or a personal journey, it’s a unifying terror of a disease. I have sat by a beloved relative’s bedside after a diagnosis that stunned and scared all of us. I have witnessed her strength and courage through chemo therapy and multiple surgeries. I have felt the joy of the words “cancer free” and the relief of her returning health. I have read a close friend’s story of triumph and heard her openly discuss the aftermath of the disease she beat. Cancer touches most of us, in one way or another.
It also causes us to remember the big things. Traffic jams, a heat wave without air conditioning, a crappy day at work, a petty argument, a rude customer…nothing can make those things feel as trivial as they are, like a cancer diagnosis. When your very life or the life of someone you love is on the line, we tend to remember what’s really important to us. And we tend to hold it a little tighter and with a little more gratitude. While I would never imply that this horrible disease is something to be thankful for, I do think that being in the midst of those fighting it, or those who have survived it, is a privilege. A person is never more raw or vulnerable or real. Never is perspective so evident. Even the trivialities are wished for, if only because they make things seem more normal.
Children already look at the world in a way that, as adults, we wish we still could. They believe in fairytales and Santa Clause. They say what is on their minds without a filter. They keep us hopeful and are amazingly resilient. To be a nurse that helps children and families through that diagnosis, to help maintain as much of that “normal” as possible, to bear witness to those very raw moments, and to try and put a little bit of hope and make believe into caring- what job could be better?
Much of this could also be applied to pediatric critical care, and of course, there will be some cross over. I have a lot of passion for working with children and families, and I would like to think that that is an arena I fit into well. I go into my clinicals with an open mind and an open heart, hoping like most of us to feel that “click” that says we have found our place. However, something tells me I already know what it will be.