I come from a home where illness was really uncommon. My mother and father lived a healthful life and passed this on to us five children. In high school I expected to take college-bound courses rather than courses others chose leading to non-college experiences after high school. I never intended to select nursing for a career because I had a prideful notion that nursing was less prestigious than being a college graduate whatever the major. I had never lived around a nurse when I was growing up, but high school classmates who said they were planning to go into nursing were in less demanding courses than ones designed for college-bound students. In short, I said that I would never be a nurse, NEVER.
In our household, money for living expenses, never mind a college education, was scarce so my parents said what money was available should first go to my older brother’s college education and I should select another avenue to have a way to earn my way through college as I wanted to be an agricultural and medical missionary.
My parents suggested nursing even if it was not especially attractive; it was at least a job and I could build on it.
I applied to three nursing schools in Philadelphia, Penn., in 1957. All three schools of nursing offered a diploma for three calendar year program and I was accepted by all three schools. Which one to choose? Each school invited me to come for an interview, stay over night in the nursing students’ dormitory, tour the facility and make my decision. I chose to go to Thomas Jefferson Hospital School of Nursing first and after spending this time observing the nursing students, listening to their awesome stories of providing patient care, I changed my mind about nurses as being less able to be college material. I was astonished at their heroic stories as students who ran the hospitals in olden times on evening and night shifts, weekends, and holidays. I decided to forego the other schools’ invitations to visit their campuses.
September 1957 was when I entered "Old Jeff." The financial aspect of going into nursing was minimal as I was awarded a full scholarship by the Pennsylvania Ministers and Missionaries Association in the amount of $303, which paid for the entire nursing school expenses.
This amount covered tuition, books, uniforms, infirmary fees, board and room-actually everything, so that I graduated in September 1960 at the age of 20. I passed the state licensure exam, became a registered nurse which I have been for the past forty-three years.
When people ask how long I have been in nursing, I say, "Forty-six years," because of the three years as a nursing student.
There nursing career has taken me into a variety of locations and foci. I went on to get a BSN from Temple University, Philadelphia, Penn., (1963) and a masters in nursing (M.A.) from Columbia University Teachers College, New York City, (1965) where my focus was on associate degree nursing education and administration.
My mentor was even Dr. Mildred Montag, originator of the two year associate degree nursing education plan. To reduce the nursing curriculum from three calendar years to two academic years and make it college-based in lieu of hospital-based would supposedly attract more nursing students as well as grant a college degree along with eligibility to take the state licensure exam.
With this academic background along with nine post-masters credits from the University of California, (San Francisco), I have been enabled to teach in four associate degree programs, one baccalaureate degree nursing program, do clinical nursing in the military, do acute care in hospitals and nursing homes, go abroad eight times to do health care in a developing country.
Having selected the career of nursing, which I said I would never do, has opened many doors of services opportunities for which I am and will always be grateful. Nursing is my love and I am so grateful to the Lord for His guidance and sustaining power and presence that has made this life work a calling, a ministry which I love and hop to do until my health would be such that I need to stop.
I once had a nursing supervisor who was 84 years of age and the vitality that surpassed mine at the age of 29. I do not believe retirement was in her vocabulary nor is it in mine. Knowing what I do about this career, I wholeheartedly encourage others to seriously consider this choice, as it is very rewarding.
There have been ups and downs in my nursing career, but I love what I do-teach in an associate degree program and work part-time evenings or nights in the hospital to "keep up my skills."
Yes, I would make this career choice again, gladly because it is a rewarding ministry for me to show caring to patients, families, and my students and colleagues.