Finishing her final semester at Lorain County Community College (LCCC), Karilys Medina recounts her journey to this point as she looks forward to a rewarding career making a difference by caring for others with empathy.
The decision to pursue nursing as my career feels like it wasn’t a decision that was consciously made at all-- rather, simply an answer to a question that had been burned into my head, akin to a neon welcome sign, lighting up a dark street, asking me: how are you going to help people? The answer became clear the first time I got a glimpse of medicine, and how nurses worked to better patients' lives, when my aunt was in the last stages of her fight against brain cancer.
I was a young then, but remember fragmented pieces of that last year or so. She was so bright, even when her light was starting to go out, that she lit up the room. Medical professionals worked tirelessly to try to find another way to save her, but ultimately, there was nothing left to do. Simply give directions, give resources, and give those last bits of care before time was up. Nurses were the kindest, the most helpful, according to my grandmother (who was disabled and still is, to this day, further fueling my want to help others). They helped her become a proper caretaker for her daughter, while showing empathy not a lot of people were able to show without lacing in pity. When I grew a little older, I knew I wanted to help people, just like that nurse had.
Suddenly it wasn’t a question of how, but of when. When would I go to nursing school? When would I have the knowledge to help my grandmother, people like her, and people like my aunt? When would the seemingly endless pre-requisites and testing feel like they were paying off? When would I finally be truly able to help people in their most dire hours of need?
That answer came quickly when I started my nursing program. When clinicals began, and I started learning to care for others, my heart became full because finally, I actually had the ability to help people. From nursing homes, to maternity, to med-surg-- I was helping people.
Helping others evolved in meaning to me, when I got to my critical care rotation in the ICU. I experienced one of those patients my instructors always talk about--the ones that stick with you forever. It was an older man who was actively dying, and there was no other medical help that could be given to him. Hospice was the only option, and I (alongside the incredible nurse I worked with that day) had to educate his family on hospice, while giving him some of the last bits of care he would ever receive at a hospital. The patient was not fully alert, and was suffering from aphasia, but he was kind. Being able to care for him and experience one of his last days was something that changed me forever, and reminded me why I chose nursing in the first place. To help him, just as those nurses helped my aunt.
My only solid goal in nursing, going forward, is to give my patients the best care with the most empathy possible, always. I never want to forget why I chose nursing and why I love nursing. I don’t think I ever will forget as long as I’m able to help people like this--as long as I’m able to make my aunt and grandmother proud.