There are a number of reasons why I want to become a nurse, but chief among them is the importance of the nurse as a front-line representative of the healthcare system. In many healthcare facilities, from clinics to emergency rooms, nurses are the first medical professional patients encounter. Whether for routine care or on the worst day of their lives, nurses have the opportunity to ascertain how to coordinate resources in the patient’s best interest. As well, nurses play a key role as patient advocates, both in terms of ensuring each patient’s needs are effectively prioritized within the healthcare system, and by acting as representatives in the community, running CPR and first-aid courses, holding vaccination clinics, or in working for key healthcare organizations, like the Red Cross.
Being responsible for so many aspects of patient care and advocacy means that compassion, attention to detail, and a passion for life-long learning are required. As indicated in my CV, along with my coursework, I have worked part-time as a Nurse’s Aide at XYZ Retirement Center, and I volunteer at a methadone clinic and needle exchange two weekends of each month. Though these are two very different roles, often working with two very different populations, some of the demands of each position are similar. Both positions require genuine, invested passion for the work and dedication to continued learning. The needs of our aging population are changing as advances in medical treatments progress; likewise, our approach to addiction and substance dependency are changing as we move more toward a social and health-based model for understanding such challenges. For both of these groups, relying on assumptions from the past is ineffective, and as front-line care workers and caregivers, nurses must be well-acquainted with advances in care to act as effective members of any medical team. As well, both of these groups represent vulnerable parts of our society, people who are too often set aside because their problems are complex, and their challenges span the physical, psychological, and social components of health. Finally, I’ve seen first-hand that treating both groups requires precision and attention to detail. Managing treatments is a large-scale task, and nurses must be able to maintain their own standards of care while also acting as supports for all other members of a patient’s medical team. Nurses must be aware of the unique needs of each patient, and able to meet those precise needs in a variety of often-changing contexts.
Though I’m still at the beginning of this journey, I’ve seen that nurses often have a unique opportunity to foster relationships with patients – frequently having both more and more frequent opportunities to connect with those in their care than physicians. Nurses also have a unique role in any medical team, acting as the core support for all other members. The opportunities for compassionate and active support of others – of patients and other medical professionals – and to do so on the front-line of medical care is what draws me to this profession, in particular.