The following post is written by Cindy Griffin, RN, RMH Healthcare. Cindy shares her personal journey on what inspired her to pursue a degree in nursing at age 44.
Beginning a New Chapter in My Life
When I began studying with the goal of becoming a nurse, I was not the typical student. I was forty-four years old and had just gone through a divorce. I had already raised my son, who was 19 years old and was attending a local community college. At that point in my life, I had gone from being a wife and mother, to being a single woman with seemingly no real purpose in life.
As I contemplated how I would support myself and what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I came to the conclusion that I wanted a profession that would allow me to make a difference in the lives of others. I had experienced a year of fairly severe illness a couple of years prior to my divorce, so I’d had a small taste of suffering, and knew what a difference caring people can make in time of need. I also enjoy getting to know people and have been blessed with a fairly easy-going personality. The more that I thought and prayed about what God would have me to do with my life; the more attractive nursing became to me.
Extending My Empathy to Others in Need
I knew that I could empathize with those who were suffering and treat them with compassion due to the fact that I had experienced some suffering in my own life. I feel that it is often hard to fully understand something that we have never been through ourselves. I was finally convinced that nursing was the route that I should take and with the help of my parents and a good friend (a retired nurse, by the way) who supported and encouraged me along the way, I began taking classes and finally entered nursing school two years later.
My instructors were a great help and example for me during my years in nursing school. They all set high standards with the goal of making sure we would feel comfortable with helping patients care for themselves or helping family members care for their loved ones who might be patients. Some instructors were very tough, while others were very encouraging. I know that I needed both types, although I thrived under one specific instructor named Cathy Ryan.
Cathy viewed the clinical experience as a learning process and I was so comfortable with her teaching style that I wanted to try any new skill I could, knowing that she was not expecting me to “perform“ perfectly. She was there to lead and guide me.
A Tender Touch Can Help Heal
I also learned that touch can be a very powerful comfort to patients. I watched as Cathy stroked the head of a burn victim who was experiencing a great deal of pain. She had a tender touch with patients and it was obvious in the way she touched them, that she cared and was not just there to do her job. I realize that as nurses we have to be careful with different cultures and personalities, but on the whole, I have found this type of communicating care to be invaluable.
My New Beginning
While my nursing experience is very limited, I have thoroughly enjoyed caring for patients during my eleven months on the surgical floor at RMH Healthcare, in Harrisonburg Virginia.
Nursing is a very hard job with many demands, but it is also extremely satisfying to begin each day, knowing I can make a difference in the lives of my patients, even if that difference is only in giving them quality, compassionate care.
Visit Sentara Today to read a letter from a grateful family who recognizes the compassionate care Cindy provided for a terminal patient during Christmas.