My most meaningful achievement as an MSN-prepared Nurse Practitioner has been the development of a free health center on the near north side of Milwaukee. Within a collaborative, evidence-based framework, our interdisciplinary team of nurses, physicians, pastors, congress woman, alderman, business people, and community members strategized and created a health center to assist with the primary care needs of an uninsured population.
Through a completely voluntary health provider workforce, we have served 30 to 40 patients on the second Saturday morning of each month. Additionally, the health center serves as a clinical site for nursing students whose awareness has been raised regarding the millions of Americans who seek care in such settings.
Approximately half of our patients speak English as a second language. We have engaged numerous Spanish-speaking volunteers to assist these patients with navigating the healthcare system. Some patients have presented for free services, only to discover that they are eligible for insurance assistance programs. A social worker has provided assistance with entry into the insured healthcare system.
In summer 2012, the Columbia-St. Mary’s Mammography Mobile requested to provide services at the health center every other month, having also identified the community as one which has poor access to breast health services. Because of community recognition by the Komen Foundation for our community service, we have been encouraged by this foundation to apply for a grant to enhance community services for breast health.
In winter 2010, the Wisconsin Department of Health approached the clinic to be an urgent site for administration of the H1N1 vaccine. The neighborhood had been identified as a high risk area for not having equal access to vaccine. Three local television stations highlihgted this immunization activity in their weekend news. Local physician leaders participated in urging the community to be immunized.
As a nurse practitioner, it is gratifying to participate in this free health center endeavor, witnessing the participation of many to make a positive difference in the health of a resource poor neighborhood. We have demonstrated that good care can be accomplished with minimal financial investment if passion and commitment are harnessed.
The nursing profession brings forth many opportunities and achievements, but the most meaningful ones I received were through direct patient care.
One of my first achievements was as a new graduate R.N. at Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital. I was working on the B.M.T. Unit when my patient coded on my shift. During codes we allowed the family to stay in the room if they desired, and with this particular patient, the mother opted to stay in the background of the room. After relentless CPR, intubation, and ACLS utilization with no response, the attending physician called time of death. Silence and sorrow filled the air within seconds of him confirming defeat. I remember fighting back the tears as I turned off the monitors, and began preparing the patient for her family to say their good byes. In the midst of me doing this, the Response Team cleared the room and the mother emerged from the background to say “Thank you”. She thanked me for the care I had given her daughter through her entire stay as well as when she passed. This moment will be forever engrained in my mind and heart. Here a woman h ad just lost her baby girl, and in the moment of tragic loss, her first response was to display gratitude to me. This defining moment made me realize as a young nurse that we are privy to personal, profound parts of people’s lives and can make a positive impact even when the outcome is undesirable.
One of my most recent achievements was a young college student that I triaged over the phone with a disposition of ED evaluation for his acute abdominal pain. The patient was reluctant and initially refusing ED evaluation related to being uninsured, but I further explained the degree of concern and why an ED evaluation was imperative. He agreed to the disposition at the end of the triage. The next day, as I locked the clinic door, this man ran up to the door and asked for “Tricia the nurse”. When I told him that I was Tricia, he proceeded to “thank me”. He said he had just gotten discharged from the hospital and wanted to thank me in person for my kind words and knowledge
The rewards in nursing are limitless, and in return, I want to have a positive impact on the lives of my patients and their families. Fulfilling my goal of becoming a Nurse Practitioner will enable me to enhance my current nursing knowledge base, strengthen my relationship with my patients and their families, and contribute to a noble profession. Becoming a Nurse Practitioner unites the nursing’s compassion and skill with the autonomy to practice, diagnose, and treat patients holistically. I may not save a life every day, but I could make it a better day by listening, providing, and guiding my patients and their families to their desired goals.
Achievement, as defined by Dictionary.com: "something accomplished, especially by superior ability, special effort, great courage, etc.; a great or heroic deed". When I think of this, I think of awards or recognition. Recognition that pertains to my future goals in nursing makes be think of the times I have been awarded for my nursing care. These times include "Pat of the Back" cards of appreciation from co-workers, "thank-you" cards from patients and families, a nomination and selection for a Daisy Award in nursing, or an Aurora Star I received for exemplary care.
Yet, when you ask me to describe my most meaningful achievements, these are not what come to mind. Becoming a nurse is probably my most noteworthy achievement. Neither of my parents or my two sisters had ever been to college. My family was also not in the best life circumstances at the time of my leaving for college. Yet, I was privileged enough to be able to put myself through school financially, by working various jobs, including work as a CNA. Being able to achieve my Bachelor's degree from an accredited school is a great achievement I am quite proud of.
Becoming a nurse was the easy part though, the relationships that developed through my experiences have become my most meaningful and difficult achievements. Day in and day out I see people at their worst. People are stressed, hurt and afraid. I love being able to give them strength, hope and compassion. This relationship works both ways though. Patients', their families and their lives have taught me so much. The experiences nursing has given have become my most meaningful achievements. I know this might sound vague, but working in healthcare, you know you have felt the same way. There are limited words to describe the reward that is felt in doing what nurses do. My goal to pursue advanced practice nursing will only further these achievements. I hope to encourage people more, teaching them how to take control of their lives in whatever way they see fit. I know I cannot teach passion, but I hope to inspire people by having them witness the passion that I have, passion that I have acquired by watching patients and their experiences. Nursing is a gift, a gift that keeps giving and growing, but only if you let it. I fully anticipate to keep giving my gift to wherever the road my take me. The experiences and relationships along the way will continue to contribute to my list of my most meaningful achievements.