CANA Global CONNECT: Vol. 2, Issue 1 – Xiaolu Li-Herrera

Why Nursing?

Xiaolu Li-Herrera

My decision to choose nursing as a life-long career was based on a handful of events and personal reasons. My enthusiasm towards science and the medical field was one of the influences towards my decision; however, my family’s recommendation and my general interest in helping others were my primary motivators. My initial goal was to commit to a career that was not only rewarding but also has significant impacts on society. When I had just arrived to the United States, I was not exactly sure what career would best fit my needs and interests. I started exploring my options and received consolation from my family and friends. My mother-in-law and father-in-law, in particular, influenced me the most. They suggested that I look into a career that is related to the medical field, because they saw the compassion I had in helping other people and my affinity towards to science.

During that time, I got my very first job as a pharmacy technician. I earned experience in customer service, gained general knowledge on the medications that were being dispensed, and learned about the healthcare system as a whole in the United States. My family helped me tremendously, and because of them I was able to complete my pharmacy technician training and acquire my national certification, which helped me to get a job as a pharmacy technician later on.  This job changed my life and reinforced my decision to dedicate myself to the healthcare field. My in-laws, who both worked in the health care field, recommended that I study nursing due to the flexibility of a nursing career and the high demand within the job market. Ultimately the final decision was made when I visited a family member in the hospital. I saw the compassion and the care nurses provided to the patients. The love from the nurses really made a big difference on the patients, their families, and my point of view on the career of a nurse. They are truly lifesaving heroes who are dedicated to their profession.

Although nursing school is a rigorous process with numerous exams, which required constant studying and preparation for clinical service; however, I considered it an exciting and fulfilling aspect of the program. As I progressed in the nursing program at Hunter Bellevue School of Nursing, I eventually had the privilege to work at Lenox Hill Hospital as a Patient Care Associate while maintaining my position in the pharmacy. This opportunity allowed me to gain a deeper insight of the nursing field and to build more experience along the way before my graduation. I was very grateful to have this job, as I know it was very difficult to break into an entry-level position in a hospital for someone who does not have enough patient care experience.

The struggle I had when I immigrated to the United States, when no four-year colleges would take me as an immigrant, did not stop me from giving up my dream. I started in Borough of Manhattan Community College and then transferred to Hunter College after 2 semesters. Until this day I still remember the moment when I was accepted into the Nursing Program at Hunter Bellevue School of Nursing after all of this hard work. It was one of the proudest moments of my life. The competition was fierce and unmerciful. If there was any flaw in my application, it would set me back by a considerable margin, because there were many other students were competing for the very limited positions in the program as well. Failure was not tolerated, so I had to spend more time and put in more effort than most of my peers since English was a fairly new language to me, and this was the only way to adapt to the environment and remain close to my fellow nursing students.

As time went by, I found every semester to be more challenging, and it was pushing my limits to the point of exhaustion, especially when I was trying to balance two jobs, school, and nursing a baby. Even though the nursing program did not encourage working while attending school, I had to make this happen in order for me to take care of my family and gain the experience I would need after I graduate. I was not only committed to making this work, but I was also determined to make each semester a success, with excellent grades. This miracle was also made possible because of the strong support I received from my family. They supported me financially and physically, as well as the emotionally, which was crucial to me. They gave me the strength to take it one step at a time and never give up no matter what happened. Now I felt empowered with the milestone I have achieved so far, and I plan to continue to make my family proud.

In terms of specializing, after I get my Registered Nurse license, I am still not certain in my direction as to where I should focus on. I enjoy medical-surgical, as one can learn something new every day. I also find pediatrics interesting and challenging after taking my son to his doctor appointments and witnessing their practice. I think the compassion and care are essential, but not enough to be a great pediatric nurse. One has to be patient and creative because nurses in pediatrics are not only taking care of patients, but patients who may not be able to follow commands due to stranger anxiety, fear, and other circumstances.  As a floater in Lenox Hill Hospital, I had the opportunity to work in a variety of settings, I love the fact that I came across many different personalities, yet we all have the one common goal: to care for the patients and their families. Therefore, with this goal in my mind, I believe I will not stay in one area only after I graduate.

When I applied as a potential candidate for the scholarship opportunity from the Chinese American Nurse Association (CANA), I was so surprised when I received the announcement that I was selected as a scholarship recipient. I was surprised at how generous CANA was and I felt a sense of honor for being chosen and awarded. It was another critical milestone in my career when I was recognized by CANA. With this scholarship, it not only helped me with the costs of my nursing program, but also allowed me to take some days off from work and spend more time with my family.

The scholarship assisted me tremendously. It provided me the scholarship, and furthermore, introduced me to an amazing organization. CANA supports nursing students, such as myself, who are looking to better themselves through a nursing career, and recognizes them as a vital member of society. Being a part of CANA and having this scholarship expanded my view of nursing. Nurses are not only limited to a hospital or clinical setting, but they can also contribute in many other ways. I look forward to participating in as many events as possible and being a contributor to CANA and the community.



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