Why I Became a Nurse
In honor of National Nurses Week, we put out a call, inviting nurses to tell their stories about what motivated them to choose nursing as a career. We share the following personal accounts…
Suzanne B. Reichert, MSN-NE, CPN, RN Registered Nurse II
I am a second-career nurse, having graduated with my associate degree in nursing in 2013. I was inspired to become a pediatric nurse because of the wonderful care my children received at Cincinnati Children’s when they were young. Two of them had very complex surgeries as infants. What stuck with me the most was how the nurses not only took care of my children, but also my whole family. They made sure I had everything I needed as I was nursing at the time. They made sure we were comfortable when spending the night. They all showed so much compassion when caring for our family. My children were always in the best of hands.
I decided way back then that if I ever got the chance to go to nursing school, I would go. It was 15 years later, but I did. My family was living in North Carolina at the time, so I started at the community college in our area. After graduation I was lucky enough to start out in pediatrics and have never looked back.
I always said if I ever moved back to Cincinnati, I wanted to work at Cincinnati Children’s. When life circumstances made the move a reality, the first thing I did was apply for a position in Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics (DDBP). I am so thankful to say that I got the job!
My whole career has been spent working with children with special needs. I have since continued my education and received by BSN and my MSN-NE, as well as my CPN.
Cincinnati Children’s inspires us to be our best. I am so happy to be part of DDBP. I am very proud to be a Cincinnati Children’s nurse and work with the best!
Julie Hendrickson, BSN, RN, CPN Hemophilia Care Manager
What brought me to pediatric nursing, specifically the area of hematology/oncology, was supporting my best friend in high school through treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I still remember the devastation I felt when I found out she had been diagnosed with cancer. As Forrest Gump would say, “We were like peas and carrots.” We did everything together! The idea that she was sick and I could lose her was incredibly scary.
I was fortunate that my mother and her mother were both nurses and were able to help me better understand the diagnosis and treatment, alleviating some of my fears and showing me the best ways to support her. She and I were together almost every day during her treatment, with the exception of admissions. Her outcome has been an amazing one. She beat cancer, went on to have two beautiful daughters, and is a high school teacher for students with special needs.
Elle Rakes, MSN, RN-III, CPHON, CNL Chemotherapy Safety Nurse Coordinator
It seems I was always destined to be a pediatric nurse: I was just a toddler when my mom found me using my new Fisher-Price medical kit to give my baby dolls shots in the top of their heads. She bewilderedly asked what I was doing, and I proudly announced, “I’m a head nurse!”
My first serious encounter with pediatric nursing happened when I was 4 and my sister was in the PICU with RSV for several weeks. Instead of being traumatized by seeing her under an oxygen hood, I loved visiting. In fact, I was jealous that she got to stay in such a fascinating place, and I had to go home! I wanted to stay and see what all the cool equipment did and scurry from beep to beep like a video game or whack-a-mole. I wanted to learn the tricks the nurses used that made the babies stop crying. I wanted to make my sister “all better” so I could have my parents back home with me.
As we grew up, my sister turned into quite a little daredevil, complete with burns, accidental poisonings, missing fingertips, etc. I insisted on escorting her and my parents to the hospital every single time, as if they were going to King’s Island instead of the hospital. I hoped to catch a glimpse of X-ray films, learn a new word, or be asked to help in some way (sipping juice boxes while watching Disney movies with her on her stretcher wasn’t half bad, either). I was positively elated the day I got to hold her leg while they removed a nail she stepped on (she was less excited, but never fear; she is a thriving adult now and much less accident-prone).
But it was my own experience as a patient that made me really nail down pediatric nurse as my career choice. I had been to the doctor several times for mysterious pain in my early teens when I had to make my first ER visit for it. My nurse was so kind and funny and caring. She respected my fear of needles and believed my reports of pain. She was the first person to ever stop my pain mid-event (although, of course, she was also the first person to give me IV pain meds), so I immediately honored her as an angel from heaven. I knew immediately—staring at that little ceiling panel above me that had been painted with a field of flowers—that I wanted to do what she did when I grew up. I wanted to be the one who gave someone else that physical and emotional relief. My passion only grew through multiple misdiagnoses and less-than-compassionate encounters with nurses at other institutions.
Pediatric nursing is such a special combination of intellectual stimulation and interpersonal connection. It touches every member of a family in a powerful and enduring way, even when, or perhaps especially when, we’re doing the day-to-day, rote, and unglamorous things like silencing alarms, offering juice boxes, and charting pain scores.