| USD Nursing
how many hats practicing nurses must wear, how they must be
the one that ties the loose threads of health care together. What
has surprised me about academia is how hard everyone works
at USD Nursing. What is particularly challenging for faculty
is not only keeping up with current practice in order to be the
best teachers for their students, but it is keeping up with rapidly
changing clinical practice.
I have truly enjoyed every single day of going to work as
a nurse since graduating in 1965 from USD. The choices for
women today are extremely wide open but I am pleased I made
the choice to be a nurse. Knowing what I know now, even with
more career choices available, I certainly would choose nursing.
The options within nursing have been amazing. Nurses have
the opportunity to practice nursing at the bedside of acutely
ill patients, with mothers in labor and their tiny infants, with
patients in hospice, long-term care patients, in their homes, in
schools, in clinics, in industry, in prisons, as educators of future
nurses, in case management, in management, influencing
health care reform in Washington and in recent years in
Informatics. That is what has been the most amazing part—all
of the opportunities R.N.s have in making a difference while
making a living.
The intensity of the study was probably the most
remarkable part. Many people in those days thought that if you
were a caring person, you could be a nurse, which wasn’t true.
You really needed to have a science background and make a lot
of judgment calls. I think that’s true about nursing today, and
it’s something that people may not understand—the kinds of
backgrounds that nurses must have in the fields of microbiology
and physiology, and then of course in the actual practice of
Professional Satisfaction
My favorite type of nursing was hospice care, but then
I liked being a manager/director—the greatest legacy one can
ever leave is how well individuals are developed to carry on after
you are gone. Right now, it is about reaching individuals who
never thought they could ever achieve becoming a nurse…their
economic or family situation prevented them from attending
the traditional classroom. It is the most rewarding to me to have
individuals believe they can achieve this. I also love the team of
faculty and staff with whom I am lucky enough to work every
day. I work for them, to help them have what they need to do
the real work of facilitating learning with our students every day.
From the day I graduated through today I learn something
new and exciting every day. I love being able to say I am a
nurse and I love what I do. Nurses do make a difference in the
outcomes for our patients and for our community and continue
to impact health care on many levels. I have had the pleasure to
work in many of the different arenas in nursing and each one has
brought insight and pleasure to my work history.
I can’t really think of any part of nursing that I didn’t
like. The most satisfying aspect was clinical teaching. Throughout
my years in the Department of Nursing, I did classroom
teaching, which was challenging and fun, although it was
somewhat tedious and never-ending. But, taking students to the
clinical area two to four days a week and seeing the light bulb
go off for the student and seeing them become satisfied with the
care they were giving was the most satisfying.
Challenges, Then and Now
I entered nursing in 1983, when you could barely find a
job. I believe it was a stable time in nursing, but the environment
was about to change with the beginning of cuts in Medicare
payments. That said, I have never experienced a time with more
change and challenges than in nursing today. What does feel
good is the science of nursing is evolving—patterns of practice
are being challenged, as they should be.
The major challenge for me [when I began] was going to
work in a small rural hospital where I was often the only nurse on
duty along with a nursing assistant. I had to learn quickly how
to access resources and to truly recognize what I did not know
and ask questions. Today, I work in a large facility with abundant
resources but have remembered to access information quickly
when I don’t recognize or know the answers. The complexity of
patient care and aging of our population has made the nurse’s
role more challenging. Technology today has become a big driver
in nursing care and the time it often takes for a nurse to learn
and implement the electronic medical record as well as the high
technology of equipment, takes him/her away from the patient at
the bedside. Learning to prioritize and always make time to ensure
the patients know they are the most important part of our day.
The greatest challenge that nursing has today is
obtaining faculty. If you go into nursing and you like it at all,
you don’t want to go into teaching and you don’t want to go into
administration. You want to do nursing. So making teaching and
administration somehow more appealing to our younger nurses
is terribly important. And, making the delivery of graduate
programs accessible is important—and I think we’ve done pretty
well with that. We’ve done a great job, through distance and
online, making the programs available, but we have to make sure
we make them affordable.