Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Finding the Path For My Future:

I recently returned from one of the most influential experiences of my four years at Georgetown. As a senior nursing student, I was given the opportunity to participate in a home health care visit. y patient was an 85-year-old man who had a stroke over six years ago. The stroke limited his ability to talk, leaving him clinically depressed and not wanting to participate in normal daily living activities. He has a wife of 63 years with her own health problems beyond the stress of a husband who needs regular care.

The registered nurse who was working with the patient and asking his wife questions, a fellow classmate and friend of mine, listened intently as the woman described her and her husband’s current living situation. We spoke with her for over an hour and accompanied her to see her husband and take his vital signs. He lay there quiet and still, eyes open, able to understand everything, but not always able to respond. The nurse asked if he could squeeze her hand (which checks neurological function). She held his hand for a minute during which time he gave no response, made no facial expression and didn’t move.

My classmate and I had been standing by the door observing. He looked over at us, and we smiled and said “Good morning Mr. Green,” trying to be as cheerful as possible despite this upsetting situation. Surprisingly, he smiled back and told us to come into the room. The nurse had at this point begun documenting some information and Mr. Green’s arm was still in the air from when she had asked him to squeeze his hand. I approached his bed and took his hand in mine. I asked him if he could squeeze my hand. He didn’t at first, but I was persistent, and he finally started to squeeze. He wouldn’t stop!

We were laughing and his wife came into the room again wondering what all the excitement was about. I know I will never forget the next 15 minutes I spent with Mr. Green and his wife. He told us that he had trouble verbalizing what he was thinking. Then we went on to talk about football, the elections and whom he would vote for.

His wife was in utter disbelief and smiled from ear to ear. He asked why she was so happy and my friend and I told him that it was because he was talking. I looked up at Mrs. Green, and she was crying.

I left the Greens that day with indescribable feelings. I felt like part of their family, and I wanted nothing more than for Mr. Green to never stop talking. Here was an 85-year-old man, with depression and a speech impediment, who was talking and laughing like it was any regular day.

Mrs. Green attributed it to our youthfulness and uplifting spirits. To me, it was more like a miracle.

I came to Georgetown wanting to be a nurse. There have been days where I have had doubts. Sometimes, I wish I had the option to take the classes that my friends outside of the nursing school recommend. There were times when I wondered what it would be like to intern for a senator. I have a great amount of respect for students on this campus who have had the chance to explore different subjects and decide on a major, but I wouldn’t trade what I have experienced and the people I have come in contact with for any class or semester abroad.

Some may say that being in the nursing school is limiting to students. I would argue that it is exactly the opposite. I have been enlightened and learned things that are not possible to understand by sitting in a classroom. Much of my education here at Georgetown has been a continuous internship. I’ve learned that instead of nursing students being dramatically different than other students, we are, in fact, surprisingly similar.

My roommate is currently filling out law school applications. My friends are interviewing with investment banking firms. Many believe that nursing students have futures that are set in stone. In reality, my future is just as uncertain as theirs. Most of us have our career interests and will derive satisfaction from a certain occupation, but for me, there are so many different areas of nursing that I would like to go into that I don’t know where to start.

We all graduate from Georgetown with specific skills and knowledge. However, Georgetown teaches us the art of adaptation and analytical thinking regardless of field of study. I also have had experiences, such as those with Mr. Green, that reinforce my desire to be a nurse. Just as I hope I have touched others, I am constantly amazed at how my patients have touched my life and changed who I am. Although I am not applying for jobs or graduate school right now, I have just as much fear as my friends and my roommate, all of whom are wondering where they will be next year. The great thing is that we all have acquired skills and knowledge that will help us discover our ideal paths in life.

Lorin Burleson is a senior in the School of Nursing.

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