"Everyone is somebody's someone": a student's path to nursing

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student Rachel's family

This is a guest blog post written by Rachel Tiefel, a student in Marian’s Indianapolis accelerated nursing program. Rachel's first bachelor's degree is in criminology. Her anticipated graduation date from Marian University is May 2014.

Looking back at all the decisions I have made to start my journey as a nurse, I could not be more excited and proud of the career that I am choosing. It is important for me to make a difference not just in the lives of patients but also their families. I feel that my inspiration to be a nurse is best described with a personal statement, “Everyone is somebody’s someone.” Each patient is important to someone: a grandparent, parent, child, or friend. It is important that a nurse care for every patient with that in mind.

Rewinding the years back to 2002, I was young and still trying to figure out what to do with my life. That year proved to be especially hard. My mother and I went to meet with a doctor about some recent test that my father had undergone. I still remember the numb feeling as the doctor gave us one month to spend with my father. He had been diagnosed with colon cancer and had massive blockage. We spent as much time as we could with him as he started his month-long downhill progression.

The night that he passed, I remember feeling that I needed to hold it together for my mother. I went out into the hall where I met my father’s roommate. He was dressed very nicely and asked me for permission to enter his room. I quickly told him that it was being cleaned and that the chaplain was on his way down so he would have to wait for a little bit. He smiled at me and said his wife would be along at any moment to spend the evening with him. A nurse caught my eye and she shook her head sadly. I immediately turned to the elderly gentleman and asked if I could keep him company as I could use the fellowship. He eagerly said yes and invited me to play cards. I sat with that amazing man hearing stories about his wife and playing cards for almost two hours as we waited for final preparations for my father.

When it was time for me to leave, the man gave me a hug and told me how much he enjoyed our time together. As I was leaving, the nurse, who had been caring for the elderly gentleman and my father, grabbed my arm and asked me if I had ever considered nursing. I told her I was not sure what I wanted to do with my life yet. She said it takes a special type of person to care for patients with the kind of compassion I had showed that gentleman. I felt extremely thankful for that moment because that was the first real thought I had given to nursing.

infants in hospital

Fast forwarding to 2008, I was admitted to the hospital at 35 weeks pregnant with twins and some serious concerns with one of my babies. I ended up having an emergency c-section that resulted in two premature babies and a two-week stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). During that time, I met some amazing nurses who taught me the importance of trust and compassion in nursing. Leaving my babies overnight was one of the hardest things to do, but the nurses would answer the phone and give me an update whenever I had a moment of panic about the twins' health.

I think that being a nurse is more than just being knowledgeable in the studies of nursing. It is about compassion to care for others. It might mean leaving your loved ones for long hours to take care of someone else's loved one. I feel that the statement “Everyone is somebody’s someone” is very fitting. The nurses caring for my premature infants were doing the most precious job in my eyes. They were caring for the babies who meant more than the world to me. As a nurse, my inspiration is that I want to give back the kind of care that was given to me when I was so fragile. I needed someone to look at me and tell me that they would do everything possible to ensure that my babies were OK. I want to help the person who is struggling with an unexpected diagnosis or unforeseen medical emergency.

As a nurse, I want to inspire others to follow their dreams, whether it is a career change, a desire to do more for others, or even just a simple goal that is set. I feel that I will always remember what I learned the night my father passed, both the heartache and the compassion.