A Personal Story
“Patient advocate” is a phrase that has been instilled in me since my first day of nursing school fifteen years ago. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines advocate as, “one who pleads the cause of another.” I think that definition is an integral component to the heart of nursing because that’s truly what nurses do every day. In many ways, I feel that is what sets nursing apart from other healthcare providers. As a nurse, I have never forgotten that one of my main priorities is to provide a voice for my patients during their time of need and serve as their advocate.
I started my journey as a nurse with a true desire to help others. Growing up, I loved listening to my father describe stories of the care he provided his patients. My father was a medical assistant at a local physician’s clinic and he thoroughly enjoyed his calling as a medical professional.
When I was nine years old, my father suddenly became disabled due to a work-related injury and was no longer able to work. I assisted my mother in providing care for him in addition to my four younger siblings. I witnessed firsthand the struggles my parents went through without adequate healthcare coverage and the daily pain my father experienced after that injury. Those experiences instilled a spirit of caregiving into my heart and I knew that someday, I wanted to be a nurse and serve others.
I had just graduated high school when I enrolled in the licensed practical nursing program. My initial love as a nurse was towards pediatrics, but as a licensed practical nurse, jobs were limited in that specialty. I decided to continue my education and work towards an associate degree in nursing. While in school, I began working as a home health nurse and to my surprise, I fell in love with geriatrics.
It was there that I discovered my true passion for providing a more holistic aspect of care towards not only my patients, but their families too. I never planned to continue a career in home health once I became a registered nurse, but my heart kept guiding me back there.
Home health reminds me of the origins of nursing and of times when physicians and nurses made house calls to their patient’s homes to ensure they received the proper medical care they needed.I meet patients and their families that are struggling to cope with complex co-morbidities that they do not understand and it brings me joy to provide them with resources and education.
In 2013, I took a brief hiatus from geriatric care and began working at St. Francis Children’s Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Pediatric nursing care presents different challenges than what I had previously experienced in geriatrics. As a pediatric nurse, I had a responsibility not only to my young patients, but also to their parents and family members. The floor I worked on was considered a neurological surgical floor and I learned several assessment skills while employed there.
After refining my pediatric assessment skills, I returned to home health care as a director and case manager to a local home health company.It was there that I was able to utilize my skills for geriatric and pediatric patients in addition to developing leadership skills.
In August of 2016, I made the decision to return to school and began working towards a bachelor’s degree in nursing. I had several friends that recommended Oklahoma City University to me as a reputable school that provided strong education. My instructors at Oklahoma City University encouraged me to continue my education and provided me with strong leadership skills that I know will be required of me as a family nurse practitioner.
My experience at Kramer School of Nursing for my bachelor’s degree has provided me with valuable knowledge and it is my desire to continue my education there. The nursing faculty at Kramer are proficient and have provided me with a mentorship that far exceeds other programs.
I have researched multiple programs that offer family nurse practitioner, however, it is my aspiration to seek my education at a program that will provide me with the knowledge and skills I will need to be successful in my practice. I feel that education is the key to success in any field, which has directed me towards the more extensive doctoral program. In March of 2017, I was accepted into Oklahoma City University’s BSN to DNP family nurse practitioner program and will begin my studies in August of 2017.
Throughout my career as a nurse, I have had the honor of caring for patients from newborn to geriatrics and have truly loved every aspect of each one. As a family nurse practitioner, I would like to provide more rounded care for my patients with focuses on the mind, spirit, and body. It has been my experience both personally and professionally that illnesses no matter how acute or chronic, affect the entire family and not just the individual patient. It is my hope that as a family nurse practitioner, I can advocate for my patients and their families by providing education and resources to facilitate healing and promote wellness.
My experience as a home health nurse has shown me patients that struggle to attend physician appointments and seek the medical care they need. Most of my home health patients must travel anywhere between fifteen to fifty miles to receive care from a physician, especially in specialty areas. My current home health office covers a service radius of fifty miles from Morris, Oklahoma, and I have seen that the further south I travel, the scarcer medical care can be found. With the critical shortage of healthcare providers Oklahoma is facing, I strongly feel that nurse practitioners can help bridge that gap in care.
Nursing is a calling of the heart to advocate for patients and their families in every aspect of care. Nurses have multiple tasks including assessments, performing complex medical skills and procedures, patient education, and medication administration. However, I think that the most important job any nurse has is to show compassion in the care they provide. Mother Theresa said it best, “it is not how much you do, but how much love you put in the doing.” To be a nurse is the calling of my heart and I am eager to continue my education in order to better serve my community.