When I reflect on the elements which persuaded my decision to become a nurse, I cannot ignore hereditary influence. Between my maternal grandfather’s aunt serving with Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War and three of my aunts graduating as diploma nurses after WWII, I would say my genes are pretty entrenched in a passion for nursing!
My first job during college was working as a weekend secretary on an orthopedic ward at a major medical center hospital in the northeast. It was then that I grew to admire the spirit of the floor nurse who wore a starched white uniform, nurse’s cap, white stockings, white shoes and a navy blue cape clasped at the neck worn during cold, snowy weather. I was in awe of how that uniform stayed a pristine white after an eight-hour shift. I loved to sit at the bedside with some of the long-term patients to listen to their stories. I was so excited to be a small part of their team!
Although I was told, “You should have been a nurse,” many times during my life, I don’t think I seriously considered going into the nursing profession until I experienced a life-changing event that happened to me as a patient at Houston Methodist Hospital.
As an adolescent, I developed a chronic hip condition that led to significant arthritic pain and immobility. The predictable treatment was total hip replacement. I was encouraged to wait as long as possible to receive the most reliable implant that would improve my quality of life; a life without chronic arthritic pain. A nurse from our church recommended a well-known, highly respected orthopedic surgeon at Houston Methodist Hospital. At 40 years old I underwent hip replacement surgery. I remember waking up in a private room on Dunn 7, surrounded by my family; and best of all, I was free from hip pain!
My nurses exhibited a gentle and caring passion in the art of nursing. They taught me about hip precautions and infection control. I trusted them with my life and I was deeply saddened to say goodbye on the day of discharge!
This positive experience left me with a profound urge toward following the Golden Rule, that is, to “give back.” Could I be a nurse? My hip was fixed, but I was unsure I could endure the physical demands required of a nurse. My ultimate nudge was from my husband who said, “There is nothing wrong with your brain — go back to school and become a nurse.” That gentle push was what I needed to satisfy my need to give back to those who changed my life.
I have since graduated with my master’s degree and have shared my personal story with many elective joint replacement patients, some of whom are nurses and doctors here at Houston Methodist. I hope that sharing my experience has made a difference.