Students sometimes ask me: Why did I become a nurse?
My answer: It was God’s plan for my life.
My early goal was to become a pharmacist. I was academically strong in math and science–this knowledge was needed to prepare myself for becoming a part of a healthcare team. The most common pre-pharmacy classes include chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry. I enrolled in organic chemistry and found it to be too challenging and not interesting. I was not prepared to study and understand all of the chemical reactions related to life.
“God, what career path should I pursue?” I wondered. I am a first-generation college student which means neither of my parents have any education beyond high school. Statistically speaking, I would struggle to complete a college degree.
I turned to my peers for support and guidance. God put the right people in my life at the right time. A casual conversation with my roommate’s father (a doctor) and her mother (a nurse) turned into a new career path. They encouraged me to think about becoming a professional nurse. After thinking about it, I decided I was going to be a nurse!
As a student, I learned that a degree in nursing required application of knowledge obtained in the sciences complemented by a foundation in liberal arts. It also required skills in problem-solving, placing a high value on honesty and integrity, demonstrating dependability and a high level of responsibility, and having a positive attitude with a caring spirit. I have since come to believe that the “intentional” act of caring is the core of nursing practice. How we care for others reflects our values and beliefs.
I was successful in completing my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) degree from the University of Minnesota and worked as a Registered Nurse (R.N.) in an Oncology Unit at Masonic Cancer Center. My ability to care for cancer patients grew through experience and a willingness to “put myself in their shoes”. I did not offer sympathy; instead, I practiced empathy. I learned that the ability to understand and share in the emotions of others does not go unnoticed.
My journey as an R.N. took me from kneeling at the bedside of a dying patient to the adrenal rush of intensive care and high-risk labor and delivery in a large urban hospital. New research and advances in technology added a whole new level of intensity to an already stressful working environment such as electronic healthcare record, SMART pump technology (a software used to control and administer intravenous drugs and limit medication administration errors), computer charts, patients being involved in research studies, babies being born at 23 weeks, and aggressive treatment options.
Through these experiences, I learned that my personality favored a “slower pace” with quality patient contact. I believe understanding your personal strengths and weaknesses is a key element in achieving your full potential as a professional nurse.
Honoring God’s direction in life, my family moved to Lodi, California, and I took a job in a small rural hospital as a perinatal nurse. A perinatal nurse cares for women during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum stage. Responsibilities can also extend to the care of infants and assisting during a cesarean section.
In this setting, I learned to be flexible, how to be a team player, and to become a strong patient advocate. I also realized my love for teaching. I taught childbirth and newborn care classes (which was a great experience for a new graduate nurse), and a clinical instructor for nursing students. In Lodi, God took my strengths and weaknesses and used them for His glory by teaching me to serve a multicultural population.
My journey as an R.N. is not over. Today, I enjoy teaching nursing students at Crown College and the freedom I have to incorporate a Christian viewpoint into the course content. I continue to seek God’s will in my life and believe it is a lifelong pursuit in order to stay in the exact center of His plan.
Dr. Teresa Newby is currently the Director of Nursing at Crown.
– Master of Science in Nursing, University of Phoenix
– Doctor of Nursing Practice, Saint Catherine University