This past summer, I worked at Boston College as an Orientation Leader. After an application process that began in January and ended in May, I gratefully accepted the position. Little did I know, that accepting this position would have such a profound impact on my experience at Boston College, my friendships, my view of others, my nursing career and myself.
Throughout the summer, I led six groups of incoming freshmen through a vigorous three day orientation program. I held small group discussions with students on topics such as diversity, social and academic pressures, choices, and opportunities at Boston College. I acted as a resource, provided perspective, and gave information to help the students feel welcomed to not only the Connell School of Nursing, but to the greater Boston College community as well.
From the beginning, I knew I was surrounded by an amazing community of students from Boston College. Fellow Orientation Leaders truly opened my eyes to new beliefs, passions, and backgrounds. I formed lasting relationships with these students and with the six groups of freshmen that I had the pleasure of meeting. I also had the privilege of working with great faculty of Boston College who now serve as mentors, role models, and friends.
This experience gave me confidence that I now carry through to my nursing profession. During my two clinicals this semester, I found myself more confident when talking with patients, physicians, and communicating with other nursing staff. I gained this new confidence from working alongside 43 students and five adults. I learned how to respect everyone’s opinion, take advice from my elders and those more experienced than me, as well as follow my instincts in making quick decisions. Being an Orientation Leader also taught me how to communicate with many different types of people, whether it is nervous freshmen, experienced deans, or friends and colleagues.
I believe that reading people and communicating effectively is an important aspect of nursing. Nursing is a people profession and people are my passion. You can learn a lot from just one conversation with somebody, but what if you had not taken the time to have that conversation, or you had not noticed that the person felt uneasy and was too shy to express these emotions? For example, during one of my sessions over the summer I could sense one person was uncomfortable and something was not right, but the person was too nervous to speak out. I followed my instincts and decided to pursue a conversation. After sitting down with him, he opened up to me about a recent loss and how he was nervous about finding resources at Boston College. I was able to form not only a lasting connection with him, but I was able to show him all of the helpful resources at Boston College. Similarly, this semester in my Childbearing Clinical I was walking with one of my post partum mothers and I felt the same sense of apprehension. After asking the right questions, she opened up to me about her financial struggles and her partner’s recent job loss. I was able to give her the support she needed, pointing her in the direction of programs aimed at financially aiding women and newborn children such as the Women Infants and Children (WIC) program.
My job this summer allowed me to grow as a person, gain confidence, and be open to various perspectives and beliefs. After working with 48 people and orienting around 60 freshmen from different backgrounds, I now feel comfortable in serving as resource to others and in my abilities to communicate and connect with others. Tuning in to people’s feelings and fears and respecting their vulnerability, as well as forming a therapeutic relationship were great lessons I took away from my experience this summer and will continue to use throughout my nursing career. This position made me a better person and leader, who can provide support and direction to others in many ways.