My intentions for this paper are to describe why I chose nursing as a career, my goals, ambitions, and my total respect for the field of nursing. This paper will include my personal ideas and concepts of how I felt about nursing before I enrolled in the program and how I feel now. By using current literature and journals, I will be reinforcing what I have learned throughout the program to prepare to become a nursing professional upon passing the NCLEX. Lastly, I will list my goals after one year and five years upon completing the University Of Guam’s nursing program.
While in the military, I had the opportunity to provide client care to active duty, retired personnel, and dependents. As a Hospital Corpsman, my scope of practice was much more liberal than my civilian counterparts. I had learned a lot from the education and training I received from the military that I wanted to take it to another level and advance my knowledge in this field. I was fascinated by how nurses knew disease processes and interventions. I knew how to perform client procedures and administer medications, but sometimes I would not know why they were being done.
In January 2001, I had to make a difficult decision whether to stay in the military and make it a career as I originally planned or get discharged from the military without any kind of plan of what to do once I left. My division officer at the time was a Navy Nurse Corps Officer. He talked to me about the many opportunities a nurse has both in the military and civilian sector. I can honestly say that this was a turning point in my life because it was then and there that I decided that I wanted to make nursing a lifelong career. So with the support of my Division Officer, I was able to request an early discharge by my Commanding Officer to come back to Guam and start summer classes at the University Of Guam.
My sister was a nursing student at this time. In fact, it was her senior year, and I can recall the times where we would get into discussions about our experiences in doing client care. I was proud of her achievements, which motivated and inspired me to complete the nursing program. I knew with her support and guidance that graduating would be inevitable. I always knew that I would be most happy helping people and making a positive difference in their lives. I have the utmost respect for nurses, and hopefully, I can call myself one one day too. Before entering the nursing program, I knew what nurses did in the hospitals and clinics. A majority of my experience in the military was working for and closely with nurses.
My initial conception of nurses in the military was leaders, advocates, and role models. I say this because nurses are commissioned officers, and we were taught to respect them. Aside from that, I had a clear understanding of the profession in the sense that during my tenure in the military, I was able to experience firsthand what nurses really do. Nurses can work almost anywhere in the hospital with the opportunity to specialize in a certain field or further their education. Learning in nursing is never-ending because technology and newer methods arise almost every day. My experiences have only been limited to the military; however, I don’t see too many differences in the civilian world. According to Marquis & Huston (2000), leadership is a process of persuading and influencing others toward a goal composed of a wide variety of roles. Each nurse has their own style and leadership. Their style depends on their values, traits, characteristics, and experience. It is with these unique individuals that changes began to come about.
A nurse leader must have a variety of leadership styles depending on the situation. Leaders are sought after for their expertise in their respective specialties, and staff nurses look up to these individuals for guidance. During my clinical rotations, I’ve noticed that nurse leaders have to work with limited budgets and limited staffing. This can cause problems in the organization because morale is low, and staff are forced to work longer hours. Recently, I heard the ongoing problems of the Guam Memorial Hospital and its staff in the media, including the pharmacist and nurses. I was happy to hear the nurse leaders finally talk about some of the issues bothering them.
Leaders make decisions for the group (Kozier et al., 2000, p.482) in the military setting. This type of leadership is called autocratic. It is appropriate for this type of leadership in a military hospital environment because nurses lead the Hospital Corpsman who have less training and education. This leadership style also ensures discipline and order throughout the ranks. All nurses are able to become change agents, but more importantly, nurse leaders have the greatest influence on change. The nurse acts as a change agent when assisting clients in changing or modifying their behaviours. Nurses also often act to make changes in a system, such as clinical care, if not helping a client return to health. (Kozier et al., (2000), p.11)
According to Marquis & Huston (2000), What differentiates a successful change agent-a person skilled in theory and implementation of planned change to deal appropriately with these very real human emotions and connect and balance all aspects of the organizations that will be affected by the change. While studying nursing at the university, I have witnessed firsthand many changes that have happened to the curriculum over the years. Changes that have occurred are raising grade point averages to 2.7 and raising the passing rate of 75%. These changes have been designed to improve our chances for success on the NCLEX based on research. Overall, change must occur by all nurses according to the present time with respect to procedures, technology, and function.
Nurses are in a position to act as client advocates. They protect clients, represent their needs and wishes to other health care providers. They also assist clients in exercising their rights and help them speak up for themselves (Kozier et al. (2000), p.11). I can recall my experience at the Skilled Nursing Unit when I took care of this elderly caucasian gentleman. It seemed that we could not agree on anything concerning his care until the next day when I asked him if he had ever served in the military, and he said yes. I finally found some common ground with him, and he started to open up to me. I asked him what he was doing at SNU to receive care at a Veterans Hospital in the states. To my surprise, he had no idea of the benefits that he was entitled to. He did verbalize to me that he would rather be in the states closer to his daughter, but he had no means of returning back to his hometown.
Acting as my client’s advocate, I took it upon myself to call the local veteran’s affairs office and spoke with one of the counsellors. After speaking with the counsellor, he assured me that my client was eligible for benefits, including being eligible for a veterans hospital. I went ahead and spoke with the social worker at the unit and informed her of my client’s rights as a veteran. I returned to my client with the news, and thanked me for what I’ve done. I made a follow-up call with the social worker the following week, and paperwork was already processed for him to return to his hometown to the local veteran’s hospital. I displayed advocacy because a nurse advocate should remain objective and not let his or her personal issues or beliefs stand in the way of their decisions.
A nurse who chooses to advocate at a public and government level is a political activist in the name of nursing and health care. This area covers a wide range of issues, from professional nursing to consumer rights. Nurses such as Senator Leon Guerrero are in a position to advocate for nurses and health care. Nurses such as the Senator have an understanding of ethical issues in nursing as well as laws and regulations of local nursing practice. Advocacy within the field of nursing has always been a key factor for increased federal funding over the years. According to Roit (2000), grassroots advocacy has always been crucial to legislative success. Her article states that the key is contact with elected officials and developing strong relationships with them so you may be sought after as an expert in the nursing field. Lawmakers are more receptive to getting input from people they know personally. Nurses are invaluable to legislators when it comes to health care policy.
Research in nursing is a very important component. Without research, nursing would not be where it is now. New procedures, methods, and technology are being brought upon constantly. I am currently taking a research class at the university, and it’s more complicated than I had imagined. It is through research that retractable intravenous catheters are now available to provide safety. This is just an example of thousands of research used to help nurses. More and more nurses have chosen this area of study because it’s a way to improve the profession. My one-year goal is to graduate from the nursing program by the fall semester of 2005. After completion of the program, I will begin to study for the NCLEX utilizing the NCLEX 3000 review and Incredible easy tests. My nursing books will be used for resources and reference. I also hope to do some volunteer work at St. Dominic’s to maintain my skills and gain more experience.
I would also attend review courses that are offered at GMH. I am hoping to challenge the NCLEX exam by April 2006. When I pass the board, I plan to return to the navy or apply for a position at Guam Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department. My five-year goals consist of working for a few years to gain clinical experience before moving on to working on a masters of science in nursing degree. I hope to be established enough in trauma nursing to take the exam to be designated as a clinical specialist. I eventually want to enter into some kind of teaching capacity. During my nursing career, I intend to take advantage of opportunities for education and eventually become an expert in my chosen specialty. Specific plans I have for myself as a nurse will provide optimum quality care to all my clients. I will act as a leader towards my subordinates by leading by example and creating windows of opportunities for them. I will act as a change agent by identifying problems and finding solutions that benefit both clients and nurses.
I think this is important because it raises the morale of the staff and it also provides an efficient and professional environment. I will continue to advocate for my clients, my co-workers and myself to ensure equal rights amongst everyone. I cannot say that I will not go into politics in the future, but for now, I can make myself readily available for politicians to utilize me as a reference towards health care. As I gain experience from working in the field of nursing, I will continue to find ways of improving nursing procedures and functions. In conclusion, the paper I wrote has helped me find a sense of direction in my life. It also made me realize the accomplishments I have made over the last 4 years. I had the opportunity to reflect upon my education and develop an even greater respect for my future profession.
- Kozier et al. (2000). Fundamentals of nursing, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey
- Marquis, B.L. & Huston, C.J. (2000) Leadership roles and management, functions in
- Nursing, Philadelphia, PA.
- Roit, Sheila, (2000) Becoming a grassroots advocate: Nurse involvement is a key factor in legislative success, 101,(12), 24