What I Learned in Nursing School

Shall I be sentimental or should I keep it real? Or is this one of those dreaded multiple-multiple select all that apply questions?

I began nursing school in awe of the nursing knowledge of my professors and the students ahead of us. As I leave, I’m still in awe of the nursing knowledge and alpha, beta, and charlie personality characteristics of my nursing instructors, and am humbled by how much we still have to learn even as we begin the celebratory circuit of pinning and graduation ceremonies and parties to celebrate our accomplishments. I’m mindful of my current and former classmates who will not be with us as we walk across the stage next week knowing that I could easily have been in that same boat.

Dr. Barkley taught us to remember that each person is a “pyschosocial, cultural, and spiritual being” and that we have to keep this in mind when working with and advocating for our patients. She kept us in check with frequent reminders to observe “professional courtesy on the floor” even while walking through the hallways at school and by asking us, “what’s your reference?” to make sure we really had read before class and weren’t just making stuff up.

From Dr. Miller, I learned humor is good and keeps class moving along but unless you know the material you won’t get very far. From some instructors I learned how I’d like to be and from others I learned habits I’d like to avoid.

From Dr. Persaud, I learned the most valuable lessons. That some things are unacceptable, that the way we choose to conduct ourselves can make or break us, and that we have to look inward at our own flaws and actions when situations go awry.

I’m humbled by the care, compassion, and integrity I saw from nurses as they struggled to meet the needs of their patients and balance those with a myriad of other concerns. I learned about team work and noticed I gravitated toward and away from certain types of people in my personal relationships.

I learned from my patients about facing death or chronic and debilitating illness with grace and dignity. I learned not to presume that I can accurately judge another’s pain. I learned about the quiet spaces inside myself where I go to help deal with pain and suffering I’ve witnessed. And I learned the importance of prayer, making time to have fun, and having a good support system to help me to get through those darker moments.

I’m learning how powerful words and ideas are. I’m working and trying hard to improve the quality of my speech and to restrain myself when words will not better a situation. I’m learning not to laugh at others because I haven’t been tested with what they have been and I can’t put myself in their shoes. And that type of hard-hearted laughter is a sign of arrogance. I want to be humble, I want my heart to be soft even as it makes me vulnerable, and I want to live with sincerity and integrity.

I’m beginning to think more like a nurse and I’m beginning to live more like a decent human being. That’s what I learned in nursing school. My sincerest thanks to all of my teachers, those that I named and those that I didn’t name, I’ve learned a lot.

Thanking My Elementary School Teachers – Part II

Part I: Thankful for my Teachers at Brockport Central School District | Mrs. Steinebach & Mr. Follman

Second Grade: Mrs. Nowaczyk

Mrs. Nowaczyk, I don’t have many strong memories of second grade but I remember you were very warm and supportive. The classroom space you created for us was inviting and I looked forward to going to school each day. I remember our unit on counting money, it was so much fun and opened up a new world of possibilities for me. Thank you!

The day in 3rd grade that we said the pledge of allegiance on the loudspeaker

Third Grade: Mrs. Robertson

Mrs. Robertson, third grade is the first year I remember being a bit of trouble-maker, sorry for that. Katie Holmes was my best friend and she had a knack for making me laugh at the most inappropriate times, which is a habit I carry with me until today.

We were always trying to be contrary, we wore the colors of the Washington Redskins, the year they faced off with the Bills in Super Bowl. I don’t care for football at all and even as I now live close to FedEx Field, I follow the Bills from afar hoping they do well.

Third grade is the first year I remember having the support of a team of teachers with Mrs. Preston and Mrs. Crozier (not sure about the spelling), which I would continue to have straight through the end of high school.

I remember one cold winter day when some older kids set upon one boy in our class and how we had to come in early from recess. It occurred to me then and probably much more now that I’m older how much care and concern you had for our well-being.

I’m really thankful that there was some mainstreaming in our class and I was paired with a student with a developmental disability. This helped me increase in empathy and made me work to reduce the stigma associated special needs’ individuals. I would go on to work for many years with this population. And of course, I can never forget what happened to my friend Marie Parcells after the car accident.

Fourth Grade: Mr. Voorheis

Mr. Voorheis, everyone wanted to have you for a teacher and I feel very thankful and blessed that I had the good fortune to be amongst the few.

Reading, writing (still have my journal from that year), and all the fun activities including camping, our winter wonderland day, and having chicks and rabbits as classroom pets made for a memorable year. I realize a lot of behind-the-scenes effort must have gone into planning such a adventure and learning-filled year, thank you.

Fifth Grade: Ms. Fallon

Fifth grade was a growth year for me and I was a bit of a bully. I learned a lot out on the playground and at the bus stop. I always loved the classroom couches for reading and having stories read to us. I miss having teachers that read stories to their students. Thank you.

Thankful for my Teachers at Brockport Central School District | Mrs. Steinebach & Mr. Follman

Friday was the StoryCorps National Day of Listening also known as Thank A Teacher Day. Reflecting on my early education, I’ve had amazing teachers, and each has left lasting imprints on my life. Far too rarely have I expressed my appreciation to them, so here’s a small step in that direction:

Kindergarten: Mrs. Steinebach

I am going fishing (kindergarten, age 4)

Thank you, Mrs. Steinebach/Ms. West for your warmth and understanding. I remember being overwhelmed by the school experience and was too shy to speak much in class. I remember my parents sending my older sister Chika with me to class one day to teach you and the other students how to say my name correctly. I don’t remember what I had been called up until that point nor of clinging to your skirt but I know I did the latter because I still have my report card, where you mentioned it.

Nap time was my refuge, although, I think I’m the only one who actually slept. That was, of course, until I made my first friend, Meghan Schuth who helped me come out of my shell. Thank you for never making me feel bad about needing speech therapy classes to pronounce th, r, and L correctly, unlike my siblings who teased me mercilessly.

Thank you for saving some of my work to include in my permanent writing folder, which I continue to treasure until today. And thank you for teaching us the alphabet in sign language. I was just reflecting on this with Chika this past week and she also remembered that you taught her class some sign language as well.

First Grade: Mr. Follman

My family (age 5, first grade)

Thank you Mr. Follman for always pushing us to excel. I remember (or at least I think I do) racing with you to complete the mad minute math problem worksheets and our medieval castle unit. I think I was one of the first students to reach the highest level and be knighted.

I remember learning many patriotic songs including the Marine Corps anthem. Songs I would sing to myself or with my siblings and whose lyrics still echo in my mind today. I’ve always thought that if I ever joined the military that I would join the Marine Corps. I don’t really have a good reason for that especially when my friends say I’d be better off in the Air Force or Navy other than the positive influence you as a former Marine had on my life. And thank you for introducing us to ice fishing!

To be continued…