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How Earning a College Degree Will Positively Impact My Life

Written by 2016 Orange Honors Scholarship, Brandy Vander Sys

“Nursing is an art: and if it is to made an art, it requires as exclusive a devotion, as hard a preparation, as any painter’s or sculptor’s work…” – Florence Nightingale.

Everyone has a battle to fight in life and no one can do it alone. Even the strongest and bravest need help throughout their life. People eventually become ill; whether it is from disease, age or otherwise and they require help in order to get better. If the end of their life is near, then they deserve a right to die with comfort and dignity. Helping and caring for people is the key to great society and no one person should ever be overlooked. It is for these reasons I am currently pursing my degree to become a registered nurse.

I want to become a registered nurse because I have experienced firsthand what it is like to have a medical problem and need the help of others to recover. I was born with a rare heart disorder called pulmonary atresia and required open heart surgery twice, shortly after I was born. Throughout my life, growing up, I have had to have routine visits to see my doctors and nurses for checkups. During a routine heart catheterization, five years ago, it was discovered that I needed a third open heart surgery. My tricuspid valve was no longer working correctly and I needed a donor valve. On top of this shocking news, my doctor also informed my husband and I because of my heart condition I can’t have children due to the high mortality rate of myself and the child.

My heart was broken, literally and metaphorically. I began to become depressed and kept thinking why this was happening to me? Two months later and it was time for my third open heart surgery. It was one of the most frightening times of my life but something miraculous happened. Four hours after I awoke from my surgery I asked my nurse if I could get out of bed and walk, as I knew the sooner a patient gets out of bed the quicker they are likely to recover. My nurse agreed and she got another nurse to assist me in taking the first times of my new life with a now repaired heart. I will never forget either one of them; they were some of the most caring women I could have ever met and encouraged me with every step I took down the ICU hall.

Each day they came in and talked with me about various subjects while they changed my bandages, helped me with daily activities, gave me my medicines and checked my vitals. I was given a heart pillow which they all signed their names and inspirational messages. I always knew I loved medicine but it was then I decided nursing was the career choice for me.

Five years after my surgery, a long road of recovery, and my husband’s yearlong remote assignment to South Korea, I got accepted into a nursing program. I was terrified and excited all at the same time. My husband had helped me so selflessly and has always been a great provider and airman. I wanted to give back. To him and to others. I wanted to help people in the way that I was helped at my weakest points in life.

In my first semester in nursing school my clinical instructor assignment me a patient that was highly depressed and withdrawn. She barely spoke to people and all subjective information regarding her was given by her husband. My instructor explained she wanted me specifically to listen to her heart. When I did I discovered she had a valve replacement as well, except hers was mechanical. I pulled down the collar of my scrubs just enough to show her my scar and informed her I was a heart patient too. After blinking in shock she began to perk up. Not only did she begin to speak to me, she only wished to speak to me personally when it came to medical staff. We talked about our personal heart conditions and surgeries and discussed how we both came from a military background. Her husband was retired from the Army and my husband is active duty in the Air Force. We discussed the difficulties we face as military spouses but how thankful we are of the military and the care that is provided to us.

She wasn’t my first patient I have ever cared for but she was the first that I truly saw how my own life and its battles helped her overcome hers. It made me realize the positive impact I can have on people and how I can help connect with them and let them know that they are not alone in their struggles.

I have seen firsthand, by being a military wife and daughter of a retired Air Force medic, the struggles our service men and women face from the hardships of deployments and doing their daily jobs for our country and its freedom. I have recovered from my medical battles in my life, I want to help those that have not yet done the same but have put their lives on the line for us all to live in a country with so many endless opportunities.

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