Dedicated to Future Nurses

by Dale Denice Wood, BSN ‘73

“I dedicate this to future nursing students.”

In high school, I decided I wanted to pursue a career in nursing, and admissions recruiters came to school to encourage us to apply, so I did and got into the nursing program at USF! I was proud and happy, but soon a career advisor said, “You will not make it. You should not pursue nursing.” I felt discouraged. I shared my experience with my mom, who helped me turn things around. I gained the motivation I needed to prove myself. I became a great nurse, and I made sure the advisor saw me graduate!

On another occasion, we were getting measured for the nursing uniforms; the staff member told me they did not have uniforms my size. My mom again turned things around, contacted the uniform vendor, and got me four clinical uniforms for free! 

Other students of color were judged not for their mind and intellectual capacity but for their hairstyle or physical characteristics. We were alone and unsupported. People should not be judged but given a chance to succeed. 

At that time, my cousin, who was in Criminology at UC, did a symposium on how to work with people of color at USF to educate the faculty to be more tolerant or be able to interact with everyone. 

I joined USF as a sweet, shy student and left as a determined and outspoken nurse. I’ve always helped other people and learned not to be discriminatory. I’ve always encouraged and supported others at work, regardless of color, origin, size, or other characteristics. 

We need to be more cognizant, understanding, and observant of the people that we hire to nurture young minds. At USF, we had wonderful instructors and faculty members, but others did not understand or were racist. I now realize faculty must have diversity, equity, and inclusion training and a procedure for students to verbalize any problems to be addressed.

After graduation from USF, I worked in the A-1 Nursing Registry in San Francisco and was sent to hospitals all over the Bay Area until I obtained a permanent job. After that, I became a Public Health nurse and worked in Alameda Public Health and San Francisco Public Health Department.  

Within my career, I have had racist incidents from patients, family members, and, in general, in the community. Still, my purpose has always been to treat everyone respectfully and empower them to be strong and healthy. During my tenure for Alameda County Public Health, the Asian community loved me; they even called me their doctor, and the translator encouraged everyone to see me; I was there for them. I have made an impact in the community and have been a successful nurse.