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Why be a nurse?

Our nurses are proud to tell their stories about their personal paths and experiences with nursing.

Amanda's story Annie's story Kathleen's story Sharon's story


Peer pressure

Sharon Greene, D6 surgical oncology

At the age of fifteen, after my high school exams, I decided to join nursing because my schoolmates were planning to do the same (peer pressure). A few of us traveled to the bauxite mining city and stayed with relatives. I wrote my application and made an appointment to speak with the nursing director. Impressively dressed, with my application in hand and all prepared for an interview I nervously knocked on the door.


An elegantly dressed woman opened the door and with a smile. "Come in, Ms. Monplaisir," she said. She then opened the envelope I handed her and read thoroughly, and then said "How old are you?"

"Fifteen," I readily replied, "I just wrote my CXC and GCE exams."

She reached forward towards me and said, "I am happy at such a young age you are interested in nursing. Someone with this enthusiasm, I would readily employ if they were older and had completed their assessment exams which can be done at age sixteen." She continued to encourage me and kept looking for my name as soon as I was eligible. While briefly disappointing, the words spoken by the director were ultimately reassuring.

I went back to school to get my A levels. By this time I was sixteen, and I wrote my assessment exams and waited in the bauxite mining town until I was eighteen. All my other classmates went to business and technical areas because they did not want to wait. I applied to hospitals in my hometown as well as New Amsterdam, Georgetown and Linden, the mining town. In New Amsterdam, nursing batch was starting seventeen days after my eighteenth birthday, while the other towns were starting in September. Needless to say, I grabbed the first opportunity, and here I am today – nursing since 1989!

Since I never thought I'd become a nurse, I guess sometimes peer pressure is good!

Me, a nurse?

Kathleen Valerie Brown, RN CCU

We were eight high school seniors on the verge of graduating; sitting around on chairs, desks and stools in our chemistry classroom enjoying a free period. Beaming with excitement, we discussed our aspirations for the start of our young adult lives.

Two had applied to MICO Teachers College and were sure they would be accepted. Another friend wasn't sure if he'd be travelling with his parents who were musicians or entertaining with a local band, while another tooted his success at being accepted into the preliminary medical programme at UWI, and so on.
"Well," I said, "I am really interested in medicine but since I can't afford to now, I have sent in my nursing application." Silence broke the chitty chatter and seven pairs of eyes glared at me. Puzzled I said, "Guys, did I say something wrong?" Then all at once the questions were thrown at me.

"What did you just say?"

"Did I really hear Nursing?"

"Why do you want to do that?"

"Did you say Nursing?"

"Are you crazy?"

"Of all the choices you have, you chose nursing?"

Pointing at herself then waving her palm at me, my best friend shouted, "Me a nurse, perish that thought!"

They cynically dissected my aspiration and smeared my choice.

They were my friends, and they meant well, but my plans were taking root and I was not about to let my peers dissuade me. To me, nursing was humanitarian job, and it was also a secure field. Fortunately, my parents had a more positive attitude. They were very proud of the choice I had made. So off to nursing school I went.

It's now been 37 years since that dream materialized. I am a registered nurse, midwife, critical and coronary care nurse, and I'm proud of my profession.
Yes, I have experienced all of the scenarios at which my classmates scuffed and scorned, but I've also had cases they couldn't have even dreamed of. I have had the opportunity to practice nursing in four different countries and learned that while cultures may differ – nursing is universal.

I've cared for nurses, doctors, CEOs, teachers, lawyers, politicians, sports icons, professors, family members, technicians, police officers, the average Joe and the homeless.

What does nursing mean to me? It means patience, compassion and a strong commitment to serve when it matters most. It means accountability, dependability and knowledge. It means unity, diversity, leadership and respect. Nursing means compromising, empathizing and teaching. Many have had their quality of life improved and have returned to say thank you. Nursing evokes appreciation.

Research and experience have brought about improvements. Nursing is advancing.

In that chemistry classroom so many years ago I never dreamed of the vastness and the intensity of my aspiration or of the knowledge I would have gained from the profession I had chosen. Yes, it is a profession, one to be respected, promoted and supported. I am proud of my profession and I salute all my colleagues as we celebrate another Nursing Week May, 2010.

Me, a nurse? I cherish the fact.

My Nursing Journey

Amanda Squires, Nurse Practitioner, NICU

I graduated from a diploma nursing program in 1979 and went directly into pediatrics and quickly transferred to NICU. As I transitioned from novice to expert, my career led me overseas to Saudi Arabia, where I became a nursing educator, assistant head nurse, and clinical specialist. I found that even though I had the knowledge, my education was holding me back, so I decided to leave and get the qualifications required for my job.

In 1985 I moved to Sacramento, California and obtained a hospital-based neonatal NP qualification, working under medical directives. I loved the team work with the neonatologists, along with the new skills that I had obtained. I felt empowered and respected for my knowledge and experience.
I worked there for a while until I was again recruited to Saudi Arabia to administer a neonatal course for 27 foreign nurses. Due to the cultural and medical model there, I was able to teach, but not practice my advanced skills. I worked in Saudi Arabia for the next four years as a clinical resource nurse improving practice, documentation, policies and procedures. I also assisted with the implementation of the NRP program with the Mayo Clinic in Tabuk near the Jordanian border.

In 1993, I had a wonderful opportunity to go to Ukraine to implement the NRP program (as per AAP guidelines) funded by a humanitarian aid group from Germany called Malteser Hilfsdienst. I also improved the neonatal care in a specific NICU, training the staff and providing new equipment donated by Germany. I consulted and trained staff in five maternity hospitals. A teaching facility for NRP, ACLS and first aid was built and donated.

After a year there, I returned to Canada and joined a Toronto's Help us Help the Children, part of Children of Chernobyl Foundation. I returned to Ukraine on two occasions visiting orphanages, delivering donated clothes, toys and medications along with assessing the need for medical intervention for infants and children.
I wanted to continue to work as an NP but I was informed that I would need to return to university to obtain my BScN and master's degree since the hospital-based program was being phased out. I was three months shy of being eligible to be "grandfathered" as an NP. I would need to complete the full master's NP program.

In 1996, decided to go back overseas as a nursing educator for NICU. I was accepted to complete my BSN and master's degree through an overseas American university provided by the American embassy for their military. I attended classes in the evenings and during days off. I was then required to return to the States on four occasions to complete clinical exams. During that time, I worked as a nursing educator in the NICU, PICU and pediatric floors while implementing the NRP and PALS programs in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

After I left Saudi Arabia in January 2003, I moved to Long Island, New York for eight months to complete the neonatal clinical component of my master's degree at the University of Stony Brook. I was a foreign student and it was very expensive, but the American dollars that I earned in Saudi Arabia enabled me finish my education. I completed my NP neonatal master's of science degree seven years ago, and I am very happy working with a wonderful team of neonatal NPs and medical staff in the Sunnybrook NICU.

Why I became a nurse

Annie Chan, RN D6

I never thought of being a nurse when I was in school. It never came to mind. At the time of choosing my courses, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. A family member suggested to me that I become a nurse, so I gave it a good thought. I knew I would like to work in a hospital setting. I knew I have good patience. I was a good listener, compassionate and loved to help people out. So I gave this career a try.

The schooling and clinical practice were hard, but I came to love and enjoy the profession. Until now, I have not regretted my choice. Although, as some say, it can be a difficult profession, it is very rewarding to see your patients as they recover from illness and to know that there is so much that you can do for them to make their recovering experience a positive one. Sometimes seeing a simple smile on their faces makes your heart smile along with them.