Looking for Excitement & Adventure…. Nursing has It All!
Lorin T. Divine, a non-traditional nursing student at UW-Eau Claire College of Nursing, became fascinated by nursing and nurses while working as an orderly at a Level 1 Trauma Center. “I closely watched the critical care /emergency nurses, the nurse anesthetists and flight nurses each performing high tech skills and gently counseling families of critical patients. I thought what they did was so cool! “
At UW-Eau Claire Lorin is one of five males in a class of 48. He sees the number of males in nursing growing. “I was interviewed by the local news and I emphasized all the job possibilities in nursing, as well as the high tech knowledge and skills. I know men are looking for excitement and adventure and nursing has it all! It also offers job flexibility and opportunities for a long career.”
Lorin chose a one week immersion clinical in South Dakota with the Indian Health Services. “This experience made the textbook words of vulnerable populations and health disparities come to life. I quickly found that all of nursing is interesting; the cultural perspectives, community focus, preventive health, etc. In my clinical, I saw the uniqueness of each person; no one is a page out of the textbook. Nursing can really open your eyes to the world. “
For Lorin, entering college came after several detours. “I was not the best student in high school, always struggled with getting good grades, so I really needed support to return to school.” He joined the army for six years, and later decided to advance his education. An advisor at UW-Barron County encouraged that he had what it takes to thrive in a baccalaureate nursing program.
Through different healthcare experiences, Lorin has learned about his strengths and unique contributions to nursing. “I needed to become a creative problem-solver when I worked as a CNA at a long term care facility. Then, as an EMT and in the Army, “I learned how to not panic in a crisis and focus on priorities. In my nursing clinicals, I have found I have a knack for working with people and thinking holistically.”
College has also had challenges. “Balancing school, work and my family has been hard!” Lorin is eager to credit his wife, Dorothy Ann for making his educational advancement possible. “While I have been in college, she has literally done everything else and been my cheerleader. She keeps our home running smoothly so I can focus on studying.”
His advice to new college students is to treat college like a job. “Approach your college education as if you are already a nurse. Prioritize school (your ‘job’) and family. Do not be tempted by all the side tracts.” He is also a cyclist, musician, and endurance-sports fan, “I know these things can help me relieve stress, but they take a backseat to school. I know I will spend more time with these activities later.”
After obtaining his BSN, Lorin is considering becoming a CRNA or Nurse Practitioner. His friend, James, a CRNA, has been a mentor and role model, encouraging him to pursue a CRNA role. “I’m ready to enter the field of nursing and see where it leads me….so many choices are ahead.”
Marquette University nursing student, Rachael Tse represents our changing U.S. population demographics. Rachael is a first generation born Chinese American. Her parents arrived in the United States from Hong Kong many years ago. She has her own unique story of pursuing a nursing career.
Imaging growing up with your father, a physician and anesthesiologist and yet all the time wanting to be a nurse. How did this happen? For Rachael Tse it was because as a hospital volunteer, she had witnessed how nurses cared for patients and how “holistic” they were in their approach. “I remember how reassuring they were to patients, and it seemed like they had all the time in the world, or at least made them feel like they were the only patient being cared for, by that nurse.”
Rachael pursued her interest in nursing by becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant. Nursing school followed and opened her mind to the world of health, not just illness. “I recall being amazed at the impact that smoking has on the body. You hear so much about lung cancer, but I was surprised how it constricts blood vessels, deprives cells of oxygen, just so many bad effects.”
Obtaining her BSN has not been easy. “Adjusting from high school has been hard. I needed to increase my studying skills, learn to stop procrastinating and not give in to fun distractions. Living away from the everyday luxuries of home was another big change for me.” Marquette University College of Nursing’s Project B.E.Y.O.N.D. (Building Ethnic Youth Opportunities for Nursing Diversity) was a great help in transitioning from high school to college. “Through this program, I’ve learned from several inspirational speakers and have had a mentor guide me through these past few years in nursing. Additionally, there is an open door policy where students could walk in to just say ‘hi,’ or to talk about the most concerning struggles that were on our minds.”
Rachel’s clinical experiences have also opened her eyes to the hard work of bedside nursing. “I have learned that although it is important to gain hands-on skills, patients really respond to how you make them feel, not just how well you do a skill. I have noticed the power of staying positive every day in caring for sick people. I also noticed how important it is to stay positive about nursing – yes, the work is hard, long days, but the positive nurses are the ones giving and receiving rewards from nursing care.”
Rachael does not view herself as different from any other college students. She has been surrounded by her family, many of whom have college degrees. Yet, she has a keen awareness of her cultural roots. She has great insight into her own characteristics stemming from her Chinese family and background. She is a hard worker, does not value complaining, does not give up, and is very holistic in her approach to healthcare. “Although I do not advise others about using herbs and natural products, I know these are still strongly valued in Chinese health. It is part of being ‘holistic.’ I am thought of as a good listener and compassionate. I think these traits really help make a difference in reaching out to patients. I have seen how patients are quick to know a ‘caring nurse,’ versus a nurse or anyone just doing their job. “
Rachael is currently working as a Nursing Intern in critical care at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, an area which she enjoys and thrives. Her nursing goals include finding a job in critical care and someday returning to graduate school. Her early thoughts include investigating the role of the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, “I think my compassion and listening skills will help me work with patients prior to surgery, a time when they are so very vulnerable.”
Ultimately, Rachael is hoping a nursing career will help her give back to others, her family, friends and community. “It would be great if all high school students graduated knowing how to do CPR! It would be a great change that I would like to see.”
That’s a great idea, Rachael….our world is becoming a better place because of your dreams!
Imagine growing up and living with a nurse who tells stories about helping people, advocating for their health, problem solving with them and learning from others by helping them through a crisis. Someone who speaks about the joys of nursing every single day and states she wouldn’t want to be anything but a nurse! This is the remarkable story of Daniel Mulrain, a senior nursing student at Wisconsin Lutheran College of Nursing in Milwaukee. The someone is Dan’s mother, Deb Mulrain.
She is the how and why Dan became intrigued with nursing. Living in Tomah Wisconsin, Dan thinks of himself as a small town guy. He found a small town kind of setting at Wisconsin Lutheran College of Nursing.
Here, Dan is one of 18 nursing students, 4 of which are male. Although a smaller nursing school, Dan has been exposed to many mentors. Through his clinical rotations and work experience in the VA system, Dan has had the opportunity to shadow male RNs in bedside and supervisory positions. In caring for veterans, Dan has benefited from building relationships just like his mother, to get to know and understand people.
Getting to know and understand people has become Dan’s motto. A global health course gave Dan the chance to travel to Zambia and the Dominican Republic. Dan beams with pride in speaking about the people of Zambia and others in his travels. “I remember going there with a set purpose, to assist with HPV screenings in the Dominican Republic and teach health in Zambia. I thought I was there to teach and help others. I was not expecting to learn so much from the people I helped. I gained a whole new perspective on what people can accomplish with few resources. I learned how important it is to be open to learning from others, to accept that you do not necessarily have more knowledge than others. I did not expect to receive more than I gave.”
As one result of his experiences, Dan knows that he assesses patients and families with an open mind. He knows he asks more non-medical questions to get to know and understand each person’s circumstances and thinks of ways to meet patients in their world. He makes every effort to keep the patient, not their illness in the forefront.
Pursuing a degree in nursing has not been easy. Like other students, Dan finds nursing school to be filled with rigorous courses. Equally challenging is finding a way to balance college, work, and still maintain a healthy balance with life. His advice to other students is to remember to “take time for you, take breaks from studying, find enjoyment in the outdoors, music, and reading to sustain yourself.” After graduation, Dan is considering pursuing either a Masters in Public Health, or in a role as a Family Nurse Practitioner.
Rebekah Carey, MSN, APNP, the chair of the School of Nursing and Assistant Professor at Wisconsin Lutheran College has been a strong influence for Dan. “She displays the values I want to demonstrate when I am a nurse. She has helped me to understand where patients are coming from, how to learn about their frustrations and respond with empathy not judgment.”
Dan believes the future of nursing and the wellness of Americans lies in preventive health. He is aware of the current focus on treating illness and the unequal attention to preventive care. He sees the high costs of illness which fall on everyone. “We are all in this together; everyone pays the price of illness. We all need to take better preventive care of each other, ourselves and our communities”. Working with community advocates, Dan has witnessed the influence of grass roots people in changing policies and health equity. A nursing job in the field of public health is his goal. “My mission is to return to a rural area and work side by side among people trying to improve the health of the community. I am eager to get started.“ ~ God speed, Dan.
I felt they took me under their wings to let me know I wasn’t alone in this new journey. I never had the feeling of being singled out or that I was the only one struggling to understand a certain topic or lesson,” she recalled. Growing up in a blended family has increased Sabrina’s awareness to different tribes and cultures as her family is comprised of members from the Ho Chunk Nation, Menominee Nation, Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans, and Mexican Americans.
Sabrina’s first clinical was at Pine Manor Healthcare Center, a skilled nursing facility with a combination of long term care, rehabilitation, and the ‘Bridge to Rediscovery’ unit. Sabrina was proud to say, “After my first day of clinical, I knew I had made the right decision. Having the ability to relate and understand people has always been my greatest asset. By listening to someone’s story we open a new world of communication. We end up building a relationship which encompasses trust, comfort, and a sense of stability. We learn that people are not just a number or an illness.” Sabrina currently works at Pine Manor Healthcare Center as an LPN, and is looking forward to transitioning into the RN role.
Each has advice for current nursing students. Sabrina emphasizes, “Study hard and don’t give up. We all have obstacles to get through, trust in your inner strength.” Sheyenne advises, “Ask for help at home and at school. I learned that others can do what you do at home, maybe not perfectly like you wanted it done, but could help you. I knew I had to ask more questions to faculty when I was struggling with a concept. I would also recommend forming study groups and friendships. At first I thought I would not have the time for new friends and study groups, but in the end they helped me succeed. I realized ‘life balance’ is part of our Native American sustainability.”
Both women have goals to return to school and further develop their professional voice by achieving their BSN. Sabrina hopes to gain acute care experience, but ultimately she is hoping to contribute to the health of the Menominee Nation through a career in community health.
For Sheyenne, “My goal is to become a certified Diabetic Educator. I see how diabetes is invading our Native American communities. I see a big need for bringing culture and diabetic teaching together.” I also think I will bring unique insights to my patients. I am an older student at age 36, with many life experiences. I think I will be able to relate to the day to day challenges that patients face in managing diabetes or other health problems. “
You can hear the theme of seeking social justice to decrease health disparities in the voices of both these women! Sheyenne and Sabrina…you now fly among the eagles!
Teri Vega-Stromberg, MSN, RN, AOCN, ACHPN
WCN Board of Directors
Meet Maichou Lor: a Bilingual, Bicultural Early Entry Nursing Doctoral Student enrolled at the University of Wisconsin –Madison School of Nursing. Maichou represents our next generation of nurse leaders, ready to enrich the nursing workforce in Wisconsin and prepared to address recommendations from national leaders on the “Future of Nursing.” It is with great pleasure that we share her story.
Maichou beams with pride and energy in describing her educational journey and successes in her pursuit of a PhD. She wants to investigate how to improve culturally competent nursing care for older adults, but is not waiting for her PhD graduation to address this issue. She has already explored how cultural beliefs could contribute to health care disparities between the Hmong and other populations. As an honors undergraduate student, Maichou studied Hmong women’s views and practices of breast and cervical cancer screening. She found that Hmong women had misperceptions about such screening, reported lack of culturally sensitive care and poor translation services, and sometimes were embarrassed to seek such exams.
Maichou’s research has been selected to share at regional and national meetings. As a follow-up to her undergraduate study, she developed teaching tools to use with Hmong women in the community and to inform them of the importance of cancer screenings. Her teaching project was chosen to receive a Kaufmann Entrepreneur Scholarship Grant to conduct community health education workshops. She has achieved all of these milestones as an undergraduate.
Her PhD program will involve studying such topics as what nurses and elders perceive as culturally competent care. With findings from studies such as this, Maichou would be positioned to teach cultural competence to nursing students and practicing nurses as well as to pursue further grants to reduce disparities in healthcare. “I know how important it is for patients and families to feel connected to their healthcare providers, to trust those guiding their health and making difficult decisions. If clinicians understood their patients’ cultural practices and beliefs, then clinicians could be less likely to make negative judgments about their patients when they enter the health care system. The Hmong have only been in the United States for a relatively short time. We have much to learn about living in the US and healthcare providers have so much to learn about us as a people, a community.”
As I interview Maichou, I quickly find myself in the middle of her story, and wonder about her beginning connections to becoming a nurse. Maichou simply states “I was always a nurse. I grew up being the interpreter for my family and my community for their healthcare visits. Taking care of my family and community has been a big part of my life. I have become their advocate for their health and wellbeing. Family and community is number one to me.”
Other events helped shape Maichou’s academic pursuits. During High School, Maichou completed a Certified Nursing Assistant course. Through her clinical experiences she found she had a good connection with elders. Her parents have encouraged her to seek education. “I am a first generation college student in my family. My parents saw in me a good fit with who I am and becoming a nurse. They have always been behind me in fulfilling my dream”.
She has had many experiences caring for older adults during undergraduate clinical experiences and she is currently working as a registered nurse in a long-term care setting. She has witnessed older adults’ many healthcare needs. She has noted the complex care of older adults from medication management, chronic illness maintenance, to daily safety and prevention of complications. She easily recognizes the vital role of nursing in caring for this vulnerable population. She has recently become the caregiver for her great uncle who has experienced strokes. As she cares for her family, she knows that the best care requires special knowledge, including cultural competence. The quest for ensuring cultural competence in nursing care has been planted firmly in her.
As a first generation college student, Maichou has experienced the hardships and uncertainties of academic success. She is grateful to a pre-college program she attended as an introduction to college studies and college life. Her advice to other nursing students is to find academic and social support from academic mentors and upper classmen. She and an undergraduate have formed a Multicultural Nursing Student Organization to help students from under-represented groups be successful in reaching graduation and beyond in the workforce. Maichou also has a dedicated interest in promoting diversity in the nursing profession and despite her incredibly busy schedule, has found time to be a contributing member of the WCN Diversity Task Force.
Maichou is smiling as I leave her. I am too...she represents the hope for the Future of Nursing.
Teri Vega-Stromberg, MSN, RN, AOCN, ACHPN
WCN Board of Directors
Jennifer Hidalgo is a senior nursing student at Alverno College of Nursing, Milwaukee. She has an unmistakable air of confidence, enthusiasm and joy. Her passion for nursing is fueled by her inner drive to improve health and wellness in herself and others. Jennifer is prepared and eager to be a leader for the future of nursing.
Jennifer’s interest in health and wellness started early in her life. She remembers being overweight at 234 lbs. throughout her childhood and young adult years. “I am very proud of losing over 100 lbs., reaching my goal weight and regaining my health. I did it the natural way, with a balanced diet and exercise. Since that time I feel transformed, like a better person. This is the story I tell others with the message of, “Never give up, it will not be easy, but it can be done. Health and a healthy body are inside everyone. Health is everyone’s right!”
She recalls the inspiration to overcome obstacles from her father, who at the age of 10, immigrated to the United States from Costa Rico. He was able to find his own potential in spite of poverty, prejudice, language obstacles and daily hurdles. He became the first generation college graduate within his family.
Throughout her childhood, Jennifer was surrounded by a family circle of service to the community. Living with her father, Javier, a respiratory therapist and her mother, Jill, a registered nurse, Jennifer witnessed their ability to help others daily through their work and service to healthcare. Jennifer realized that she too had a strong interest in health, science and helping others. Soon, she found herself pursuing a nursing career.
Jennifer credits Alverno College of Nursing to be her catalyst in realizing her potential, “Alverno has helped me become who I wanted to be. I have learned to reach beyond being adequate, to strive for excellence and give back to others. Alverno is all about finding oneself and engaging your gifts in the community. I believe in promoting health and helping people help each other.”
Jennifer has not only heard the message, she lives the message. Last year, she and her faculty mentor, Sarah Arvelo established the Hispanic Nurses of Alverno, a student group offering guidance, support and resources to Hispanic nursing students. “I know and see the struggle of Hispanic students, who are often first generation college students. College is rigorous and hard work. It is all-consuming at times. It is easy to lose one self and not have a balance of life and school. In addition, we (Hispanic students) continue to meet barriers including limited Hispanic mentors, beliefs that college is too hard and that we are not smart or strong enough to make it through college. Our Hispanic Nurses of Alverno group is there to help each other learn and reach our potential. We want to thrive, not just survive, through college. Our mission is also to promote health in the community.” In their first year, the group has held blood pressure clinics, taught children about healthy eating, and helped women learn about breast health by participating In Mexican Fiesta, Wisconsin Latino Health Exposition, and the Racine Jane Cramer Breast Health Event.
Jennifer sees her path in nursing as health promotion. “Too often, nursing and nurses view our profession as care of the sick. I really saw a different perspective when I cared for a 19 year old male with Lupus. He was seriously ill and yet he did not see himself as a sick person. He was a young man with goals, hobbies, interests and a very healthy self-image. His glass was more than half full, not at all half empty, because of Lupus. Maybe it was then, that I remembered, everyone has a potential for health.”
Jennifer is primed and ready for meeting the Future of Nursing Campaign for Action challenges. She is eager to practice nursing to her full extent in the area of primary care: health & wellness. She intends to return to graduate school and most likely pursue an Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner role. She has already taken the helm as a leader of nurses within Alverno. And she is driven to help diversify the workforce by supporting other Hispanic student nurses. “I know how important it is to have Hispanic nurses available to care for Hispanic communities. I have witnessed the hardships of families with limited or no access to healthcare. I see their fear in seeking health care. There is sometimes a sense of shame about illness and especially mental health problems among Hispanic communities. Trust is needed and often sought by seeking healthcare settings with Hispanic nurses and staff.”
“I look forward to starting as a registered nurse; there are so many possibilities within the field of nursing. I also look forward to rediscovering nature, enjoying playing my guitar, reading and finding other ways to balance life with my passion for nursing. I think I’m ready.”
Indeed, you are, Jennifer!
As a December, 2011 University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh College of Nursing graduate, Erick Gohdes is able to sum up his passion in life with one word: SERVICE. Whether applying this to his chosen profession of nursing, or as he embarks upon his military career in the U.S. Navy, his motivation is the same, the opportunity to serve others. Erick explains the source of this motivation. “Nursing did not choose me. I’m proud to say that I chose nursing because it aligns with my own values: the chance to serve in my life and through my faith. I feel I have always gotten the most out of life by serving others.”
Originally from northern Wisconsin and the first generation to attend college in his family, Erick saw education as a priority, so he gave thoughtful consideration before applying in order to have a clear direction. His first thought to envision nursing as his own career path came from an ad he read to ‘man up and be a nurse.’ He embraced the “tremendous influence nurses have for the health of patients and the community” as what he wanted to achieve in his own life. “That type of influence requires a great sense of maturity, knowledge and responsibility and I’m intrigued by that.”
Erick cites the nurses he shadowed during this exploration process as positive influences that inspired him to embark on this journey. “I was so impressed by what I saw, and looked up to them; it provided me with a whole new respect for what nurses do on a daily basis.”
Erick’s decision to enter the military was not directly related to nursing; he had considered it prior to college. However, he still felt a greater desire to serve and felt compelled to look into it further. It allowed him to grow professionally and personally, and he sees the two as perfect complements to each other for the opportunity to serve both at the community level, and now globally in his military service. It also ties all his personal values together. Although the Navy’s Nurse Candidate Program has an arduous selection process, Erick said it was well worth it, and provided great financial support for his nursing education. Students can enroll after their sophomore year in an accredited Bachelor of Science Nursing program, and receive an initial grant of $10,000, plus a monthly stipend for up to 24 months. After graduation, participants join the Navy Nurse Corps as an Officer. Erick’s five-year commitment will begin in February as he enters officer training in Rhode Island, and then will be stationed at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego for a minimum of three years. Being deployed is always a possibility during his Navy nursing career, but Erick welcomes this, too, as an exciting opportunity.
The biggest challenges Erick faced during his nursing education were time management and finances but he is quick to qualify that by saying, “my challenges were nominal when you consider the hardships that many endure in our world today.” He credits his faith, family and friends with supporting him through the rough times.
Although Erick feels all nurses make their own unique and individual contributions to the profession, he also feels he is making a contribution because he is a male. “We need to increase the gender diversity and I am proud to be part of that movement.” What does he see as the key to gender diversity? The answer lies in changing the norm in our society and the cultural influences that impact nursing with an “ingrained image.” Erick answers with conviction, “We cannot have nursing as just another stereotype in society.” He also feels the focus should be on advancing nursing as whole, with men and women together, consistent with recommendations from the Institute of Medicine’s report on the Future of Nursing.
What’s outside the world of nursing for Erick?
“I am about chasing dreams and meeting challenges head on. I devote myself to practicing what we as nurses preach by living a healthy lifestyle. Things like hiking, fishing, kayaking, ultimate Frisbee, and playing music is a huge part in my life. Nurses need to use the right side of their brains too!”
Erick participated in a regional meeting for the Future of Nursing™ Campaign for Action, sponsored by the Wisconsin Action Coalition. Because he was previously exposed to the IOM Report at a ‘Men in Nursing’ conference, this was not new ground for him. Erick feels the Campaign will be successful because there is greater nursing knowledge then ever at this point in history, and it sets nursing in the right direction. “We may not ever get it right, but setting these goals will allow us to land somewhere, and to a younger nurse that is what is so encouraging. People tend to see only the ‘dark side’ of health care lately; this brings a light of hope to us as a younger generation.”
This goes along with Erick’s best advice for young people considering going into nursing. “Find a way to experience it NOW. Don’t put it off. Immerse yourself, shadow nurses, and get their perspectives to recognize how diverse nursing can be with its many opportunities, embrace the challenges, and love the complexity of the discipline. When you step in to the world of nursing, you become a professional, and you become a leader. Since I chose nursing, I haven’t looked back for a second. It takes a special person to be a nurse, and people should never underestimate that.”
Wise and inspirational advice from a very wise young man who will make a huge contribution to the profession of nursing, and indeed, with him the ‘future of nursing’ is in very good hands! We at the Wisconsin Center for Nursing wish him all the best.