A celebration of excellent nursing care was held on February 7th, 2014 at the Boston Copley Marriot Hotel by the New England Regional Black Nurses Association (NERBNA). On this night, sitting amongst a group of respected healthcare providers, I was invigorated with the passion and pride of being a nursing student gearing up to enter the clinical setting as a registered nurse.
I have had the pleasure of working at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) as a clinical assistant on 10 South, a post-surgical/transplant unit. I was proud to hear that many of the award recipients were from BCH. Hearing Ediri Ogege-Abedi, and Cynthia Jean Riobe speak about their experiences amplified my pride in working for one of the best pediatric hospitals in the world. Furthermore, it fueled me to continue to do good work on my floor for my nurses and for myself – to uphold the legacy of BCH as a top contender in health delivery, and to hopefully receive an award as prestigious and commendable as the Excellence in Nursing awards these nurses had earned. I was inspired to push my standards as a nursing student and clinical assistant; hearing the awardees speak about the love, contentment, and fulfillment they received from the profession stimulated me to look into myself and think about what nursing means to me so far, and what environment I want to work in as a young adult. Reflecting on myself and my trajectory so far as nursing student made me realize what I have been able to do in my undergraduate nursing career, which was incredibly uplifting.
Many of the awardees talked about how honored and grateful they were to have worked for such wonderful institutions in the Boston area. They spoke about the connection they had with the hospitals and how their upbringing had helped them get through their schooling as well as a typical day on the floor. Faith and trust in God were huge factors for many in their careers. Often, they turned to God to give thanks for helping them get where they currently were and also as a way to deal with tough days. Religion was an essential part of their lives, and they incorporated that into their career and practice. Seeing something so personal and grounded in their cultural beliefs being incorporated into their patient care made me realize that my cultural background and beliefs could also be used to better my own delivery of patient care. These include the Vietnamese values of treating elders with respect, giving particular weight to communication as part of the therapeutic process and nursing plan, and understanding that Asian patients may hesitate to take charge of their own care due to fear of the healthcare system and reduced health literacy.
The best part of the night was being able to network with other nurse managers and directors from other hospitals. Networking is really just talking to someone, getting your name out there, and starting a connection. However, it is harder than it sounds to enter into a conversation and establish a relationship in a matter of minutes. Luckily, with some help from my professor, Judith Shindul-Rothschild, I was able to connect with nursing directors from Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Without this opportunity, I would have never met such accomplished individuals.
The NERBNA event was inspiring, empowering, and eye-opening. It gave me a chance to not only think about nursing from a personal perspective, but from the perspective of others as well. I believe the majority of nursing students choose nursing because they have a particular personality type and know what they want out of nursing – to get to know people, to take care of them, and to make the work day meaningful. This event gave me time to remember why I chose nursing and reaffirmed my love and respect for what it stands for, and how it continues to grow every day.