By Narcelle B. Toñacao

When I was a child, being a nurse someday was always my dream. It’s as if it was a program in my mind because until now my goal hasn’t changed. It started when I had a car accident and was hospitalized for a month. The nurses were so dedicated in their profession. They took good care of me even if they were already tired from taking care of other patients.

Last year, as a third year nursing student, I started field duty. I was very excited and nervous at first; excited because it was my very first time in a hospital, not as a patient in need of care, but as a student-nurse willing to render care, and nervous because I didn’t know what would happen. As I was on duty regularly, the feelings of excitement and nervousness faded. I didn’t feel excited anymore because I was so tired. So becoming the ideal nurse, as taught by our school, unconsciously faded in my belief. I didn’t administer drugs in the ideal way, which affected my interaction with patients, and my mood changed from eagerness to apathy.

One day I was assigned to the medical ward, very crowded with indigent patients, with very poor ventilation and many contagious diseases such as tuberculosis, and hepatitis B. Our class instructor assigned each of us to a particular patient and we had our assessment the day before our duty. When I went to the hospital and looked at the matching names on the board, I found that my patient had acute viral hepatitis. I was so scared. Only one thing came to mind: my immune system wasn’t that strong. I had no choice but to accept what was given to me. On the other hand, I also had to consider it as God’s way of teaching me a lesson that the school couldn’t, testing me if I would be a dedicated nurse someday, as I had aspired to be when I was a child.

I realized that I was a weak student-nurse because my performance was immediately affected with just a little trial. In the ward I had many experiences that affected my performance. I always wore a mask when I entered the ward. I also kept my distance from patients with contagious diseases and always brought rubbing alcohol with me. I didn’t care what they might say; I was just protecting myself.

In the midst of my duty, one patient asked a favor from me, to check his intravenous (IV) infusion because it wasn’t flowing. I was willing to do the favor but then saw that his medical diagnosis was secondary to pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB). I started to hesitate because I knew that the PTB virus was transmitted by air droplets. I looked at him; he was an old man, alone, with no watchers, unlike the other patients. I realized that if I would choose my patients I’d better not continue nursing. Therefore, I went near him and regulated his IV fluids. We talked and I felt sorry for him. I knew that this was God’s way of changing me. If I wanted to become a successful nurse, I must be willing to reach out to those in need of my care.

You may email the author at zyke_1026@yahoo.com