Opinion: Nursing a dream

Beep. Beep. Beep.

The sound of my grandmother’s heart monitor machine echoed throughout the dull hospital room. At the age of 5, I sat in the chair beside her bed, watching her sleep while I tried to complete my alphabet homework. The wrinkles on her face were far more prominent than before. 

A heart attack. 

It was sudden, yet it was the most frightening thing my family has experienced. My grandmother was the glue of our family, and for the first time ever, she wavered.

I sat in the hospital room each day after school, working on homework or watching reruns of “Family Feud as nurses quietly waved at me when they checked her blood pressure, brought snacks or changed blankets. I was a rather observant child; I could see the kindness in their faces and gentle touch they offered to my grandmother. It amazed me. I wanted to be like them, to make people feel comforted and safe even during the worst moments of their lives.

Now, in my junior year of high school, I have to start making big decisions regarding my career and future. My mind had always been set on becoming a registered nurse, ever since I was 5. Whenever my elementary teachers asked my class what we wanted to be when we grew up, I always responded with, “a nurse.”

“Aw, well, that’s very sweet of you, Madeline.”

They would say something along those lines, and I would smile and nod, proud. I was proud of my future career and personal choice – until COVID-19 hit. During quarantine, COVID-19 was scary. I watched family members become sick to the point where going to the emergency room was the only option. On both the news and social media, I saw countless videos and pictures of doctors and nurses crying, exhausted, with deep cuts in their face from masks and protective gear. 

Even my own mother, who had always been supportive of my career decision, faltered. As any mother would, she wanted her child out of harm’s way, even if it meant me sacrificing my lifelong dream. I couldn’t promise her that I would be fine because I was just as scared. 

Additionally, the grueling hours healthcare workers had been working since the pandemic seemed almost unfair to my future children and spouse. All of the odds were against me at this point. However, I just kept coming back to nursing. Tasks as simple as tending to my cat’s health needs or even taking care of my mother when she contracted COVID-19 made my heart warm and fuzzy in a way I had never experienced before. 

While I still persist with the fantasy of nursing today, there are always a select few relatives in my family who will voice their concerns about entering the dangerously overworked career. I’ll nod and agree with them nonchalantly, but deep down, I know I am not one to back down from a challenge.

As I look at colleges and work toward graduation, I can say with more confidence than before that I am embarking on my journey toward a nursing degree. The thought of my presence being one of the reasons people smile every day and helping them feel at ease in their darkest times is priceless. It outweighs all of the negatives in my book. This feeling of empathy and compassion inside of me has made it clear that I simply cannot picture myself doing anything besides nursing for the rest of my life, even if all of the odds are against me.