I always knew what I wanted to do, since I was 7 years old. When my little brother was born, he had a heart murmur. I met the neonatal nurse that worked with him and instantly fell in love with her job. My little brother was in critical condition, and she not only stood by his side, but she stood by ours too. She understood exactly what my parents were going through. She took care of my brother like he was her own, and it gave me hope. Ever since then, I knew that this was the path I wanted to take. I love knowing that someday, in the future, I will help a premature baby have a better life, just like the neonatal nurse that helped my brother did with us.
I did everything I could in order to make my dream happen. I enrolled in medical assisting classes in high school not only to help me have more experience for later on in the future, but to be able to get a glimpse of what working in the health care field would be like. I did not want to go into this field blindsided because I had heard plenty of stories of people not liking their majors, or even their jobs after perusing a career and not knowing what it really was about. I ended up not only graduating with my high school diploma, but also becoming a certified Medical Assistant.
While in these classes, I had the opportunity to attend externship programs that reinforced my medical knowledge. I was able to perform hearing and vision screenings on Kindergarten students, which allowed me to collaborate with nursing staff in creating a plan to tackle different students’ screenings. I had the opportunity to perform vital signs, urinalysis, finger sticks, suture and staple removals, specimen collections, etc. I have also been trained within the medical office to answer phones, schedule appointments, and file. I am competent in-patient documentation, collecting urine and stool specimens, administering drug and pregnancy testing with urine, and sorting medical instruments.
Over the summer I landed an internship at Boston Children’s Hospital. I really got the experience I needed there. I was lucky enough to be able to work in the NICU Monday-Friday. I did tasks such as get supplies for the nurses, help take blood pressures on the babies, and my favorite, shadow different neonatal nurses throughout the day. At this internship, I was able to gather information on the different steps I could take into becoming a neonatal nurse, and it even sparked up the thought of having a different career choice, becoming a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner.
Before the internship at Boston Children’s, I had no idea what a neonatal nurse practitioner was. I always assumed that NICU nurses were the ones who basically did all the work, under the doctor. At Children’s though I learned something different. I was able to shadow a few neonatal nurse practitioners and learned a little bit about their job. It was great getting this experience because it showed me what life as a neonatal nurse would be like, and also allowed me to see what other possibilities there were in the NICU, such as being a neonatal nurse practitioner.
After the internship at Children’s, I put thought into what I really wanted to do. I knew I wanted to be a nurse, but I also knew I wanted to be able to help as many babies as I could and be able to get as much contact with them as possible. The thought of graduating with my Bachelors Degree in Nursing was definite, but since shadowing at Children’s I knew I also needed a Masters Degree in Nursing to become a Registered Nurse Practitioner. My plan goes as such; I plan to graduate with my nursing degree and become a neonatal nurse. While working as a neonatal nurse, I will be going back to school part time to gain my Masters in Nursing and become a neonatal nurse practitioner.
Like any smart person though, I have a backup plan. If neonatal nursing does not work out right away, I will just become a nurse in any position available. For example, many neonatal nurses need experience before going into the field. They get denied the positions in hospitals because they do not have the experience needed to work with critical infants, so many start off working somewhere else in the hospital, until they rack up the experience they need to score the job. Putting that into consideration, I may not be as lucky as to become a NICU nurse right away so if that is the case, I will take the chance with any opportunity that comes my way. Even if it means working as a nurse in a different department until I am confident in my abilities to be a neonatal nurse and be able to reach my goal.
Regardless, I would be more than happy to be a nurse in any other department because nurses play a huge role in and out of the hospital. Nurses are the ones who decide what a patient needs. They help to assist their patient’s health in anyway necessary. What dawned me to become a nurse was how nurses have the role of protecting the interests of their patients at all costs. Nurses are the ones that look out for their patients, regardless of what rules are set in place. It is a nurses’ job to do whatever is necessary to make sure a patient is safe and getting the right treatments and procedures. Nurses are also known as patient educators, which means they are the ones responsible for describing and elaborating any procedures and treatments done or going to be done to the patient. Believe it or not, nurses have a great impact on their patients. They are the ones helping to treat the patients, guide the patients, support the patients in times of need, and assist the patients in order to provide a healthy lifestyle.
Neonatal nursing can be described as a separate category of nursing. In this category neonatal nurses work with newborns that are born with health problems or defects. These health problems can be anything from being a premature baby with any specific health concerns, to having cardiac problems, respiratory problems, infections, and any kind of diseases. Neonatal nurses usually only care for infants, also called neonates, that experience problems soon after birth, but they are also trained to be able to deal with these problems up until the age of two.
Neonatal Nurse Practitioners on the other hand, take on the role of the “leading nurses” of the NICU. They are the clinical experts that take on the greater responsibilities in the NICU such as diagnosis, treatment planning, and medication prescriptions. Neonatal Nurse Practitioners have the ability to work as close with a patient as needed or as far away from a patient as wanted. They are basically their own bosses. For me personally, taking on the role of a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner not only means being my own boss, but being able to assist these infants a little bit closer than a neonatal nurse would. I would be able to do more than I would as a NICU nurse and be a step closer to helping the families of these babies as well.
Regardless of where life takes me, I know what my heart is set on. I know what I want to do, and I’m determined to get there. This has been my dream since I was a little girl, watching my helpless little brother struggle to take a breath. Watching his nurse, and seeing how gentle she was with him, it just made it all seem ok. I want that. I want to be able to give a family that feeling. I want a family to know regardless of what happens to their little angel, that I tried my hardest to help that baby survive. Being able to live this dream would mean the world to me. I try my hardest in everything I do because in the back of my head I always have that set goal. I always have 7-year-old me pushing myself to keep moving forward, even when times seem to be getting rough.