Student speaker: School of Nursing
Good afternoon everyone!
For the benefit of my fellow nursing student graduates, I’ll begin by admitting that I am currently experiencing tachycardia, tachypnea, and diaphoresis. I may have even thrown a few PVC’s. For everyone else in the audience, sorry for the nursing lingo. Translation: I’m experiencing rapid heart rate, rapid respirations, and profuse sweating.
When I started nursing school a year and a half ago, I thought I knew what it meant to be a nurse. I knew the nursing buzzwords like “patient advocate” and “holistic care.” But it wasn’t until attending nursing school at Loyola that I learned what it really means to be a compassionate, patient-centered nurse.
The Loyola professors have taught us the skills and knowledge required to work in the health care industry. But mixed with the academic theory, they have also shared their own personal nursing experiences. They taught us what it meant to go above and beyond. They taught us how important it was to trust our nursing instincts and to not form bad habits by cutting corners. They taught us what it means to practice with excellence in our chosen professions. And for that, we are forever grateful. Thank you to all of the Loyola professors and faculty for your guidance and support.
Our clinicals gave us the opportunity to put all of our hard-earned knowledge into practice. Every day that we entered the hospital it was like boarding an emotional rollercoaster. Something as simple as trying to figure out how the bed worked or how to get an infusion pump to stop beeping could lead to an all-out panic attack. I remember on my first day of clinical, a nurse asked me if I could do an accu-chek. I panicked at the unfamiliar terminology and thought she was asking me to do some sort of neuro test. Oh right, she just wanted me to check a patient’s blood sugar! Every semester, though, we improved, and those routine nursing tasks started to become second nature.
Remember how scared we all were for our first skills lab test on taking vitals? Now that’s the easiest part of our day.
Our Loyola education, with its strong Jesuit pillars, has not only prepared us to be competent clinical nurses, but also nurses who are committed to cura personalis—care for the whole person. While we administer medicine and draw labs, we are also committed to caring for our patients and their families physically, mentally, and spiritually.
And this model of holistic care that we have learned at Loyola has already opened so many doors for us to give back and serve the community, and it will continue to do so as we move forward with our careers. The Jesuit principle that education gives us the opportunity to enrich the lives of others took on new meaning for me this winter. I had the chance to participate in a Loyola medical and public health service trip to Nicaragua, where we provided medical care for rural communities and helped to build homes and septic systems. During this experience I learned that our nursing skills really have the ability to transcend the textbook and the classroom, and I am excited to see how my peers apply all that we have learned to help those who need it the most.
Our professors and clinical instructors have given us our nursing foundation, but I truly learned what it meant to be a great nurse from my peers. In our discussions after clinical, we shared our greatest successes, like going the extra mile to comfort a patient in distress, and our biggest challenges, like trying to make a 2-year-old sit still long enough to take his vitals. We all had days when we wondered if we would ever be great nurses, but we overcame all these hurdles together.
Well guys, we made it! No more maroon scrubs, no more CTCT’s, no more hours of online lectures and no more sim labs.
After taking our boards—although I know that no one wants to be thinking about that right now—we will all be members of the health care community with our very own patients. We will be there for our patients and their families during the best of times, like the birth of a first child, but also during their most vulnerable moments, like the diagnosis of a serious or chronic illness. We will be there for the most intimate times of life, moments where others are not permitted, seeing and hearing what others don’t. And we will do all that we can to help our patients heal or cope with their illness.
Congratulations to the class of 2013, and I wish you the best in your next chapter.