Bee is an accelerated BSN nursing student, due to graduate this month! She's based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is hoping to begin her nursing career on either a trauma or critical care unit.
What are you passionate about in nursing?
What I'm passionate about in nursing is the people themselves. My first degree was in psychology, and I loved it so much. I've always been a people person, like, one of my strongest skills is interpersonal skills. So I love having that one-on-one with my patients, and always finding that bond. Of course, you don't always have positive interactions with people, but I always find a positive in each interaction.
What made you decide to pursue a career in nursing?
My mother told me that, since the age of three, I was always in front of the TV and was so interested in medical shows at such a young age. Like, I was so interested in the whole medical field. So then I wanted to be a doctor.
And then things changed. I'm the first one out of my family to go to college. I'm actually a dual citizen, I'm from Ghana. My major originally was biology, and then I was eventually going to pick up pre-med. But that wasn't the case. I ended up changing my major, I switched to psychology. I fell in love with psych, and I was like, I still love medicine and I'm going to go back to school for medicine regardless.
But then eventually, I went back to Ghana, in 2018. I finally got to meet my family, after so long. The last time they saw me, I was one year old. I was 23 at the time, and my family explained to me how it's so different in Ghana, as far as, like, medicine and resources. I always thought my country had money, because we're known for gold and agriculture. But that wasn't the case. My aunts were explaining to me that the healthcare system–– it's broken, it's completely broken. So things that happen in Ghana, if you were to come in here to the States, you wouldn't die for, but you would die in Ghana.
That made a really, really big impact on me as far as how I was going to move forward with my degree. I was like, 10 or 20 years from now, I actually want to close that gap in healthcare, and I want to open a free clinic. So I can do that as a nurse, as long as I have a doctor who signs off on everything. You can do so much with nursing, I didn't realize that. I just thought it was just your whole typical in-the-hospital thing or, like, community health. No, there's so many parts to nursing: there's travel nursing, there's nursing in pharmaceuticals, there's nursing advocates. There's nursing everywhere.
What do you wish people knew about nursing, or about being a nursing student and being in nursing school?
I want to be honest and say that if you're going into nursing for the money, it's not for you. I have met nurses who've gone in for the money and it's very obvious–– you can tell right away who actually enjoys nursing and who is really, thoroughly compassionate about what they do.
Being a nurse–– it's not for the weak, it's for special people. You have to really want to come every single day, because every single day is different. And, especially with the pandemic, it's even more emotionally taxing.
It's upsetting, because it took a pandemic for the world to realize how important nurses are. And now all the organizations are like, "Oh, let's give you 5% off. Let's give you 15% off!" Why wasn't this a thing before? Because nurses were always around, were always the foundation. It's not the doctor, it's the nurse who's always with the patient, and catches things like, "Okay, our patient is starting to decline." The doctor will ask the nurse, "What are your recommendations?" Because we're the ones who are one-on-one with patients. And we don't get paid enough. Nurses do so much in 12 hours. It's just like, how much do you really care about us nurses, or future nurses, and our mental health?
Here we are, though, trying to make change. I'm always up for making change. I love speaking up for those who can't speak for themselves.
What have you learned in nursing school?
What I learned and what has been taught during nursing school is that once you're a nurse, you're always learning, you never stop. All my clinical instructors and professors, all different ages, say they're still learning to this day. Because healthcare and medicine, it's always changing. I always thought, when I was younger, that doctors knew everything. Nope. You can literally be the smartest person in the entire world and you still wouldn't know everything about everything. That's one thing you have to learn to be okay with, being vulnerable and open-minded to change, because that's all it is, change.
How has it been working in the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Honestly, it has been stressful, because, as a nursing student, you're a liability. And you're going to all these different hospitals, also a liability. So we are not allowed to be with COVID patients because we can bring it back to everyone else, then back to our families, and just, you know, continue the spread. But that's been difficult because I understand the liability, but we signed up to be nurses, so be signed up for this. We're about to enter this, so more exposure helps with learning.
What are you passionate about outside of work?
Volunteering. That's been instilled in me from such a young age. I started volunteering in fifth grade. I just always think, "What if I was in that situation?" I'm also very big on inclusion. Because I'm a dual citizen–– I'm of a different nationality–– I love diversity of culture. But other than that–– I've been in school for so long, literally for so long. I feel like I'm still on the road of trying to figure out what else I like. Because I'm different now than I was when I was younger. I love reading, a lot. I love books. But I haven't been able to read for pleasure since all I do is read textbooks. So this summer, when I was off, I was doing a lot of reading. A lot of self-help books. I've read books on gratitude, mindfulness, rewiring the way you think, creating boundaries. I have learned so much, I've gained a new perspective. Now when I look back on things that have happened, it's like, you know what, no, there was a bigger blessing in disguise.
Anything else you'd like to share?
I believe I am meant for this, like, I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. I remember going through the whole process and applying to different nursing schools. I thought, "I'm going to get in, no worries." I had great grades in my prerequisites. But it's actually not as easy as I thought. And when I came to our orientation in January of last year, I was like, "Wow, I'm not the only person who went through this, even people who have a heavy science-based degree didn't get in." But there's a nursing shortage. And it's really hard to get into nursing school. I feel as though they need to be a little less strict. As far as requirements, I understand, yes, you have to take care of people. But I feel as though the ones who make it are the ones who make it.
Just because you have a straight A student doesn't mean they're gonna be a great nurse when they get out into the field–– you're book-smart, but you have to be people-smart as well. You have to be compassionate, you have to be understanding, you have to be therapeutic in the way you communicate and the way you touch people, physically and emotionally. You have to be all around a great person. And grades don't always matter. I've heard people say that they will not allow anyone to touch them if they were a C student or flunking nursing school. But you don't know what that person's been through. Some people aren't really good with test-taking, but they're better than everyone in the group, intellectual-wise, or even clinical-wise. The person who kept flunking nursing school, they could be the best nurse out of all of them.
I just want people to stop being so judgmental. You never know where a person comes from. The world we live in is so scary. And it's not like what it used to be, and it's only getting worse. So just take that time out to be very appreciative for what you have, because with a snap of the fingers, you could be in that same position as that person [who you're judging]. It's crazy. Yeah, you just gotta love. People have to love more.