I had an epiphany last week while responding to one of the blogs on TheONC. I was discussing the use of journals as a therapeutic coping mechanism when the lightning bolt hit me. I realized the person who inspired me to become a nurse practitioner had such a profound impact on me. I mean, I already knew that, but what hit me to my core was the fact that I will be doing the same role she served when we met. This had not occurred to me before.
To elaborate, I am a second-year nurse practitioner who has always loved oncology, even as a registered nurse. Throughout the wonderful roles I have had as a nurse, I have always had my foot in oncology in some sense over the past several years. My first role as an NP after graduation has been in a large oncology practice. I have absolutely loved my role, my patients, and the physicians I work with. But working 9-12 hours each day Monday through Friday is something I have decided not to continue, mostly for personal reasons (family).
Before working as an NP, I worked weekends only as an RN. And I loved it. However, these types of positions are very rare for NPs. But I got a call from a former colleague who kept asking me to consider a new position as a weekend oncology NP. Wow! Everything I love all in one! It was a hard decision, but I decided to make the change.
While typing away my response regarding the journal, I realized my next role as a weekend rounding NP at the hospitals in our city is the same role the NP I met years ago who inspired to become an NP was doing. Talk about a full circle! Destiny? Maybe.
Then I began to think of all the wonderful mentors I have met since then on my journey to become an NP. It amazes me how many mentors took me under their wing and showed me how to be the best nurse I can be. Of course, I always volunteered to do things at work that others would hesitate to do, and I always had the eagerness and willingness to learn more.
From the house supervisor at the hospital we opened in our city to the instructors at my undergrad and graduate nursing programs, the nurse managers I have worked with (all have been totally awesome, really!), and the wonderful night crew I worked with on weekends in my first RN role in a hospital oncology unit, I have been blessed with some wonderful mentors.
As nurses, I believe it is important for us always to have a mentor. I prefer to have many. I continue to be like a sponge and learn what I can each and every day… for the sake of the people I care for as an NP. This is especially important in oncology, where no two patients, treatments, interventions, and side effects are ever the same. We must always strive to stay green with learning.
Thank you, Kathy Helmick, APRN, for being my initial mentor and inspiring me to become a nurse practitioner in 2002. Kathy cared for my husband, who was supposed to die from a traumatic brain injury he suffered in a motorcycle accident on a rainy July night. But he didn't. I believe that was because Kathy, the RNs, the MDs, and I all worked and communicated so closely during those dark and harrowing three weeks in the neuro ICU. I thank them in my heart every time I see my husband smile. It had a ripple effect on me and my husband. In turn, we have touched so many other lives by becoming advocates for those who live with brain injury and by volunteering our time. Together, we also volunteer for cancer activities! We just celebrated my husband's 10th year of living… or maybe I should say his 10th year of giving.
Who has served as your mentor? When you find yourself without a mentor, have you done anything unique to find a new one?