A letter from Carla Yost, Chief Nursing and Quality Officer, Ascension Via Christi:
Thirty-three years ago, I received my nursing pin. While I remember my freshly ironed white dress and nursing cap, family and nursing classmates who supported me through my final pathophysiology exam, I don't remember who the speaker was.
But having spoken to the 2019 Wichita State University graduates at their recent pinning ceremony, I'd like to share the advice I offered them with other graduate nurses, who I hope will find it helpful long after they’ve forgotten who offered it.
First, find your guiding principle. My personal mission statement is, "Every patient, every person, every time." It stems from an expectation I set for myself when caring for grandmother during her battle with cancer. I spent many hours listening to her stories while caring for her and seeing to her comfort. One day, she told me, "I hope you become a nurse because you care in a way that no one else does." That was a positive affirmation that remains with me today.
As nurses, we enter people’s lives every day. At one end of the spectrum, we have rules and policies that keep us separate from those for whom we care and on the other the creativity and compassion to convert a hospital room to a wedding chapel for a patient unable to walk his daughter down the aisle. You will meet them daily, disguised as a frightened soul, a husband, a mother, a son, a friend.
The choices you make in caring for them matter. Use that power and influence to impact every person, every time wisely as it will define you as a nurse and a person.
Second, actively seek ways to learn new skills. While smartphones, search engines, and social media have quickly become the go-to resources for information, remember that you are part of a healthcare team. Draw on your teammates' knowledge. Be curious and ask questions, including how they bring joy to their work!
Third, do what you love. As a nurse, I have held positions that made my heart sing, and one many years ago that did not. Those may have been the longest three years of my life, as I was frustrated and as a result, my love for the work was not visible as it had been caring for post-op cardiac patients in the ICU. Don't just find a job; find the one that fits you and your goals.
Fourth, make it easy for others to relate to you. Be humble. Take your work seriously, but never lose the ability to laugh at yourself, share a crazy idea, or admit when you are wrong. Doing so encourages others to step forward and offer solutions. Practice the principle of solidarity by truly seeing the person before you, whether that's your teammate or the patient and family members in your care.
As you begin your professional nursing career, I have this wish for you: May your caring and compassionate hearts, love of learning and the ability to see the other bring you as much joy as being a nurse has brought to those who have come before you.
Carla Yost, BSN, MHA, CPHQ, FACHE
System Chief Nursing and Quality Officer
Ascension Via Christi