Why did you become a nurse?
I actually decided to go to nursing school as a direct result of a personal experience. I was a first-time mom. I was a very young mom, and my daughter ended up being in the NICU for about a week. And in that time, I realized this is what I’m supposed to do with my life. So the next year I started working toward my nursing degree.
What were some specific things that compelled you to make that decision?
For me, I had always known that I wanted to work with children in some capacity, and the medical field had always been in the back of my mind. But during that weeklong stay, seeing how the nurses interacted with the families and how the nurses cared for the babies — I realized, this is what I want to do.
I want to be able to have a great positive impact on these families during this most precious and fragile time in their life. They’ve just had this brand-new baby. It’s the most important thing to them, but their baby is sick and they’re scared. The nurses play such a huge role in not only caring for the babies, but also caring for the families. We’re growing them into parents who are going to take these babies home and help them graduate from high school and walk them down the aisle when they get married. And we want to be able to make them feel like when they leave the hospital, they’re ready to take on the rest of the world with that baby. And it’s just such an amazing experience to get to be a part of.
Have you been able to stay connected to some of the babies and families you’ve cared for through the years?
Yeah, it’s always so exciting. You’re talking about babies who are born at 22, 23, 24 weeks. And they spend three months in the hospital. Those families have really deep relationships with you while their kids are there. We do stay in touch. It’s so crazy to me to look now at some of my very first babies going to middle school.
All of those long shifts and those nights where you didn’t leave their bedside because you weren’t sure if the baby was going to make it — now you get to see them going on field trips, having birthday parties and graduating from fifth grade. It’s just so rewarding.