I was rifling through some old love letters when I found my application essay to the University of Texas School of Nursing ( UTSON ). I think posting it here will give current nursing students an example of an essay that undergraduate admission panels are looking for. Personally, it is interesting for me to reflect on my relationship with nursing–my initial hopes and dreams, the harsh reality, and my commitment and loyalty to a challenging profession. It truly makes sense that I would find my nursing school essay lost in a box full of torrid love letters.
Nursing is a Way of Life
When contemplating a career choice, psychologists often suggest revisiting the activities that one took pleasure in as a child. Unwittingly, children engross themselves wholeheartedly in activities that bring them the greatest delight and contentment. As adults, those qualities equate to stimulation and satisfaction–two elements necessary to sustain a successful career. In my youth, I enjoyed playing “schoolteacher,” more importantly however, from the ages of six to fifteen, I tended to the needs of my chronically ill grandmother. During this period of time, the idea of playing nurse never crossed my mind; rather, care giving was a way of life.
The magnitude of influence that caring for my grandmother had in shaping my career decisions is immense; although it was unknown to me for quite some time. A distinct correlation was made early in my employment as a Clinical Assistant at Seton Medical Center. While holding the hand of a patient, as he passed through the stages of a stroke, I recognized the tone and delivery of my words as that which I used when comforting my grandmother during a similar event. Amidst the chaos of the medical team, I became overwhelmed with a sense of complete wholeness that I had not felt before. I become acutely aware that my childhood care giving role had provided me with a unique ability to invest myself fully into the health and wellbeing of others, in the very same way that I had done with my grandmother.
In addition to caring for patients, I also maintain an affinity for teaching. The delight I found while playing “schoolteacher” as a child derived from the act of sharing new information with imaginary students. My thirst for knowledge and the desire to share is no less prevalent now as it was then, however my knowledge is based in scientific method, holistic healthcare promotion and nursing theory.
Nursing synthesizes care giving and teaching in a way that utilizes my natural strengths while benefiting others. The intrinsic value of caring for my grandmother and my desire to share knowledge provide me with undaunted motivation. My core professional values embody the need for empathy and ethical conduct while holistic treatment is imperative in effective healing.
Unfortunately, the current state of healthcare does not allow maximum nurturing to individual patients in hospital settings. Attaining a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing degree allows me to consult, collaborate and coordinate healthcare policy on an administrative level. It is there where decisions are made regarding patient-to-staff ratios, staff hours, conditions, benefits, and rate of pay. If one is to change the environment of nursing in a clinical setting, it must be done by a leader in a policy making position. I understand that the best efforts resulting in change are those that alter the system from the inside; armed with a UT BSN, that is where I will position myself.
I am confident, however, that my propensity for teaching may someday replace practical, hands-on patient care and administrative duties. The lack of qualified professors in the area of nursing will perpetuate the absence of university degreed healthcare professionals in the industry. Without degreed professionals, advancement in many areas of nursing will suffer. With love of nursing as my greatest tool, I hope to inspire students to engage in its field of study.
Advancing the field of nursing is not only a professional success, but a personal success as well. Nursing is not a conscious choice that was cultivated by a college advisor or a team of psychologists; it is who I am–it is my past, present and future. My natural inclination lead me to the field of nursing where I wholly and unwittingly applied myself and found immeasurable stimulation and satisfaction. For me, nursing is not merely an opportunity for a sustaining career, it is who I am; care giving has always been and will continue to be a way of life.
Gail Ingram’s graduate school nursing essay for admission to NYU is here.
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