Through STEP, I was able to fund a project that explored my career goals, provided me with hands-on experienced and ultimately offered professional development in the field of nursing. I was a PCA, patient care assistant, at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, a position I will be able to keep over the school year. I assisted nurses and provided direct patient care. I interacted with the pediatric population, communicated with family support, collaborated on care and enhanced my nursing skills.
I have gained hands-on experience in the field of nursing through this opportunity which has been priceless. By seeing the way nurses interact with children while still providing critical care for them has shown me another side of nursing I haven’t previously experienced. I learned about my strengths and weaknesses in regards to my communication, knowledge, demeanor and interactions with children. I have interacted with patients and families of different races, ethnicities, religions and socioeconomic statuses, which has taught me diverse cultural norms and ways to provide appropriate care. I have also learned to look past the medical diagnoses and see the child for who they are and address their non-medical needs as well.
Although my career goals weren’t transformed, they were solidified, I personally have been transformed in my views and approaches. I was now able to explore an area of nursing I am most interested in, pediatrics. My nursing approach has adapted and grown to encompass the different needs associated with pediatrics. I have learned time management and prioritization of care skills that will propel my nursing career. My overall nursing judgement and skills are enhanced from this hands-on experience. This opportunity has introduced me to the nursing reality of twelve hour shifts and the struggles that comes along with it. I saw different perspectives of the nursing role and teamwork within a multidisciplinary approach to care. Overall, my views of the world and our society have grown, as did my love for nursing and pediatrics.
From dealing with chronic illness and cardiac defects, I have learned the importance of effective nursing care and communication. I have developed a deeper sense of patience and empathy as seeing how hospitalization affects the family dynamic. I aspire to be available, mentally and physically, to assess situations and make appropriate nursing judgements to meet the needs of my patients and their families. I had the opportunity to see the sacrifices and adaptations of the parent’s lives and realized how much communication effects their fears and stress level. My view of hospitalization and family-centered care has really grown and adapted which is important for my future career. I have been able to self-reflect and work to improve my communication skills to allow for a patient, and family, connection.
The biggest growth I have seen in myself is my ability to apply the knowledge I have received from nursing school. I am learning new things every day in regards to the medical field, but I am also learning how to apply and adapt my current knowledge and skills. I have put countless skills to use in my internship, as well as learned new skills, such as preparing formula feedings and lab collections, that I can add to my resume. The amount of patient care hours I have been exposed to greatly enhances my critical thinking and communication development. From being a PCA, I have seen ways nurses collaborate on care, delegate nursing tasks and interact with support staff in positive ways. As a nurse in the future, I will have a greater appreciation for the PCA role because I have experienced it myself.
I assumed new financial responsibility as I now pay rent and utilities, as well as furnish an apartment. This was a big step for me to increase my independence and become more responsible. I have a new appreciation for money management. I have to balance school costs, and social activities with my work earnings which improves my time management and financial management skills. This financial maturity will help me in the future as I look for jobs, housing and providing for a family. The biggest takeaway I have learned from nursing is that you can’t help others if you do not take care of yourself- financially, emotionally and physically. It is important to learn these concepts and apply them to your life so you are more available for your home and work life.
This internship experience has opened my eyes to a different hospital and their views and operations. This prepares me to look for an institution that values what I believe about nursing and the care we should provide. At Nationwide, I have made connections with the nurses, ancillary staff and patients, helping to grow my confidence and expand my abilities. I have received the basic knowledge that I can carry with me throughout nursing school and to other units. By having this experience, my career path has become focused and solidified. As I continue to pursue my dream of neonatal nurse practitioner, I will be able to carry these skills and experiences with me, making me a better student, and nurse. Every day I become more excited with my career aspirations through experiences such as this, and I thank STEP for affording this to me, and my advisor for instructing me to pursue my dreams. I plan to continue my educational adventures by studying abroad my senior year through the College of Nursing, to gain a global perspective regarding healthcare and the needs of different populations.