How nursing allows me to give back

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.

Florence Nightingale
Nursing has always been in Christine’s blood. Her maternal grandfather’s aunt worked with Florence Nightingale (picture here), who is considered to be the founder of modern nursing.

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.

Christine Clarke

Christine Clarke

Registered Nurse at Houston Methodist
Christine Clarke, RN IV, is the patient and staff educator for orthopedics. She is responsible for coordinating and teaching a bi-weekly preoperative education class for patients undergoing elective joint replacement. She also is adjunct faculty at Lone Star College and mentors a group of ADN/RN nursing students in clinicals once a week. Her hobbies include doting on two precious grandchildren, traveling, gardening, reading historical fiction and needlework.
Christine Clarke

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Christine Clarke

Christine Clarke, RN IV, is the patient and staff educator for orthopedics. She is responsible for coordinating and teaching a bi-weekly preoperative education class for patients undergoing elective joint replacement. She also is adjunct faculty at Lone Star College and mentors a group of ADN/RN nursing students in clinicals once a week. Her hobbies include doting on two precious grandchildren, traveling, gardening, reading historical fiction and needlework.