Ever wonder how the Iowa Cancer Specialists nurses got to be where they are today? We sat down with three of our nurses and asked them why they wanted to be a nurse.
We spoke with Molly Rima, Amber Claussen and our nurse practitioner Katie Browne about what made them want to become nurses.
Why did you want to become a nurse?
When I was a little girl my grandmother, she took care of me, I didn’t go to preschool or anything and went to her house before Kindergarten.
She was a nurse and was in pediatrics and cardiology and she taught me all the bones in the body before I went to school so that is where it all started and I never wavered. I always wanted to be a nurse since I was four or five years old.
So what was it about your grandmother that made you want to be a nurse?
Everyone always talked about how good she was at her job and how compassionate she was about it and how much she loved her patients. I kind of see that in myself with her, I feel like I’m a very compassionate person and care about people a lot and I think that is a trait you really have to have as a nurse.
Where there any differences in your expectations when you became a nurse?
When you get into nursing school you kind of doubt yourself and wonder if you’re cut out for this. I was signed up to go to the University of Iowa and found out they didn’t do their internships until a year into their program. I was kind of a homebody and I looked into Scott (Community College) and they offered clinicals within the first eight weeks. At that point I was thinking ‘I think I want to be a nurse but I’ve never been in that setting before’ so for me there was no better way than being hands on to know if I really want this.
My first rotation was in a nursing home and I wasn’t sure if I wanted it but as I continued on I realized it was a good fit.
What do you know now that you would tell yourself then?
It’s a learning process, every day you’re learning something new, so if you’re not open to that you’re not in the right profession. I’ve been in this job for 13 years and I learn something new every single day I’m here — drugs are changing, treatment is changing, diseases are becoming more chronic versus acute and people are living longer. You have to know a lot and if you’re not willing to do that it is not the profession for you.
Why did you become a nurse?
I wanted to become a nurse since I was in 2nd grade.
What happened in 2nd grade?
I had an aunt that was a nurse and she kind of inspired me to be a nurse.
What was it about her that you looked up to?
All my aunts and uncles are close to us so I saw just saw what she was doing and liked it.
Why have you continued to want to be a nurse?
Because I love taking care of my patients. It gives you a sense of well being, they make you feel good for things you do for them and you try and help them. Especially with our cancer patients you try and help them try and have the best experience in a bad situation.
What would Amber now tell Amber in 2nd grade that wanted to become a nurse?
Good job, you picked the right thing. I wouldn’t change being a nurse ever, especially an oncology nurse. It makes me teary-eyed thinking about it.
Why did you want to become a nurse?
I actually wanted to be an OB nurse, I had my son early in life. I had a seizure and I was in ICU for like a week and I almost died. The nurses were so nice to me and I didn’t want to be a nurse before that.
When I heard people say they wanted to be a nurse I would think ‘why would you ever want to do that?’ Because I thought all they did was hand doctors scissors. All through high school that was my impression and thought it was the stupidest thing.
But (the nurses there) really helped me a lot because I couldn’t take care of my baby so I felt horrible but the nurses there were really comforting. So I went to school and wanted to be an OB nurse with the goal of being a midwife and I started nursing school. I started as a nursing assistant and they said you can work on cardiology or oncology. At that point I really didn’t even know but oncology sounded more interesting than cardiology and then I started on the oncology unit when I was 19 and I just stayed in oncology ever since.
You can really make a big impact in people’s lives so that is what I like. I wouldn’t change anything (about becoming a nurse practitioner.)
So it was that experience in the hospital and seeing the nurses?
Yes, they were comforting me. I felt like a failure because I couldn’t take care of my baby and they were just letting me know it was okay. They just gave me hope that I would be able to and they just made me feel better about the whole thing. My family was very supportive too but having them there to let me know things were going to be okay and that I didn’t do anything wrong. It was pretty profound.
So it changed you?
Yes, it definitely did.
That’s really what did it, I still love pregnant people and stuff like that too but I never wanted to leave oncology either. You develop deep connections with people and they teach you a lot. You just build really close relationships and it changes your whole perspective on how you view your own life and what is important.