Interview with Sarah Young – Nurse Practitioner
How did you first become interested in the nursing field?
When I was a teenager I was fascinated with wounds and blood, the gorier the better. I loved to fix my friends and family’s injuries and thought “I should be a nurse…” Going to med school and being a doctor wasn’t as appealing to me because my perception was that nurses actually did more patient care then physicians, and that was the part I found most interesting.
What experiences in your background have contributed to career choices?
When I first graduated from nursing school I worked as an RN in Boston hospitals. I worked on a med-surg unit that had very difficult assignments with complicated and ill patients. It was very challenging as a new grad but the older nurses would tell me that if we could handle that floor we can do anything. After a year of experience, I worked at another hospital on a surgical unit that I liked very much. After a few years there I worked in the ICU for a while and decided that I would need to do more than floor nursing for the rest of my career. I felt like I quickly hit a ceiling and was no longer learning new things so I decided to go back to school for my master’s degree.
How did your education or training prepare you for your career?
I went to a four-year college and received my BS in nursing. It was for the most part a traditional nursing program, it had a heavy emphasis on theory which was a difficult concept to grasp as a young nursing student but made more sense to me as I began to practice. My professors also stressed the importance of continuing our education after school either with grad school or finding new interests in the nursing field. As nursing goes in general, most of the learning we do is on the job training. I had a great foundation when I graduated but also learned a great deal more in my own practice.
What are the most and least rewarding aspects of being a nurse?
The most rewarding aspect of being a nurse is to know that you are helping someone in some way. Most of our day as a nurse is caring for others, sometimes this is done in very small tasks such as positioning them in bed, or helping them walk to the bathroom, or even just listening to them tell a story. Another day it can be offering support to a dying patient and their family, and advocating for them to have more pain control or medication to control their suffering. In my current position as an NP in post acute rehab and long term care, the most rewarding aspect is helping families come to understand end of life care and guide the patient and family through a peaceful dying process. My least rewarding aspect is when I have family members that are afraid of death and have a hard time letting go of a loved one. I also dislike having to deal with sputum.
What do you feel that you contribute most to your patients care?
Patients love to feel as though they are being cared and attended for and confident in their care providers. I always try to give my patient my full attention when I talk to them and listen to their concerns or complaints. It makes a big difference if they feel that someone they trust is paying attention, understands their concerns, and will advocate for them.
How do you handle the stress and “burn out” associated with nursing?
Nursing is a difficult career physically, emotionally, politically and spiritually. In my opinion, the best way to avoid becoming over stretched and feeling frustrated is to be sure you are keeping a mental note of your feelings and the care you are providing. If there is an element of your job that is overshadowing your love for your career as a nurse and patient care, then it’s probably best to move to a new position or new role within the field. Fortunately for us, there are infinite possibilities and sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the right fit for you.