For as long as I can remember, my mom has been a nurse. In reality, she's been a nurse for my entire life. When my younger sister was in kindergarten she went back to work, and she's worked ever since. At first, I thought I'd much rather have a mom who was a doctor -- it seemed that there was no glory in nursing.
Gradually, over the years, it's become clear to me that my mom could be nothing other than a nurse. It's what she is -- as corny as it sounds, it's what she was called to do. I was delighted to have the opportunity to interview my mom on behalf of Capella University and their Master's program -- and even happier that I get to share a bit of my mom with you!
What is your job title? Clinical assistant
What made you decide to pursue the field of nursing? I was 12 years old when my grandmother fell and broke her hip. I helped my aunt with her during the summer after she fell. One of the neighbors was a nurse who came by now and then to check on grandma. I decided that I also wanted to be a nurse and never changed my mind.
What degrees do you hold? Registered Nurse; Bachelor of Science with a major in nursing, minor in biology; Masters of Arts in Transpersonal Studies and certification in Orthopaedics and Ambulatory Care.
Can you perform in your field with less education? Yes, you can but most places now want nurses with at least a Bachelor's degree.
Did you find it difficult to be a woman in your field? No, as nursing is a traditional role for women.
Did you find it difficult to be a mother in your field? I would have if I had not taken time off from work until my children were all in school. My husband was military and to pay for child care even part time, and gas and extra expenses would have taken all my salary so I was a stay at home mother for 10 years. As long as I worked part time after that, I could arrange appointments around my schedule. I did have difficulties when someone was sick because of the need to find child care.
Have you utilized your mothering in your nursing or your nursing in your mothering more? I think itís a toss-up which I have used more. My children would bring everyone who was hurt to my door and tell them I would take care of their problem. I worked many years at Girl Scout Day Camp as a nurse and my children were involved in camp, also. None of my daughters were the least bit interested in nursing and in fact, never wanted me to talk about what I did ... I worked nights for 20 years and during the night, patients often need to talk, need someone who has time to listen. Now I work with young corpsmen in the Navy and young doctors and residents who always seem to need a mother or sister or den mother.
Has having a job in the field of healthcare made a difference in your life? YES, it gave me a life! At the time I graduated high school, girls were limited in what they could do and growing up in southern Missouri, I had no strong female role models who encouraged me to continue my education.
Would you recommend that others in your profession earn their Master's degrees? I would if they want to go into management or a supervisory position. More and more nursing positions are becoming available for nurses with advanced degrees. I earned my Master's in Transpersonal Studies because this was something that interested me. It has certainly increased my confidence in myself and my ability to do my job.
Share some of your favorite personal experiences: Nursing is one of those professions where you work hard day in and day out (or in my personal experience, night in, night out) and sometimes you wonder am I doing any good here at all? Am I making a difference or am I just marking time? Then I get a card or a letter of appreciation from one of our patients and I can see that for that person I did make a difference.
I am an Orthopaedic nurse, taking care of mostly hip and knee replacements; I worked over twenty years on an Orthopaedic ward in a hospital and working nights I would frequently be able to spend a little more time than the day shift nurses when patients wanted to talk. Pain is always worse at night and to be able to have time to listen was important to me. Now I work days and I do pre-op teaching to prepare our patients for surgery. Many days it feels like that I am spinning my wheels, that no one is listening, then I get a letter that says this: I'm not sure how to say thank you to an awesome group of people who were just doing their job - however I want to try. Nurse Sue for making the paperwork streamlined and easy to understand, I'm grateful.
Or this letter: I wanted to personally thank you for all your assistance during my recent hip replacement surgery ... you care about people, you make the process work and you get things done! All characteristics of a true Professional!
And one last one: We believe that anyone who knows you can tell from your warmth and
understanding that you sincerely care about their well being. This is what has kept me in nursing for over forty years and I have no plans for retirement at this time. This is how I give back to society.
L Sue Aten MA BS RNC ONC
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