A Value-Driven Nursing Education
In a quiet moment by a hospital room window, I received what I consider one of the highest regards from a patient: “I’m glad we met.”
This conversation took place with a woman — a cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient — a few days before she was discharged from the hospital, where I recently started a summer nursing externship. Knowing that she was going to leave during one of my days off, this patient and I spoke for quite some time. I recall staying past my 12-hour shift to talk with her. In our conversation, she spoke about her family, experience with cancer, and aspirations for the future. I spoke about my hometown of Union City, California, my experience as a nursing student at USF, and not knowing what the future would hold. In our own reflections, we both recognized that our paths had crossed. During her admission, her stay was unexpectedly lengthened and overlapped with my recent start date. My pursuit to deepen my understanding of the nursing profession brought me thousands of miles away from California to my externship at Duke University Hospital on the East Coast. Sitting together and overlooking the South’s summer storms from the hospital was quite peaceful, and it was then that she shared her regards. As expected, I returned from my days off to find that she had left. During the rest of my time as an extern, she was never readmitted — I went back to California having never seen her again. Truthfully, I think about her often and hope she is well.
Interactions like these can only be described as intimate, as these shared experiences are only truly known between myself and my patient. As a senior Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) student, I am fortunate to have shared many moments with people over the years. I have come to realize that it requires a degree of awareness and skill to navigate these unique moments. My own ability to create trust, make time, and establish myself as a healing presence to patients is one I credit to my professors.
Growing up, my parents demonstrated their own values through their example of strong work ethic, integrity, and perseverance in their everyday lives. At USF, the values of a nurse are shown in a similar way, exemplified by the professors and instructors within our program. In USF’s BSN program, the first courses we take are almost exclusively focused on the essence of being a nurse, with our lessons centered on how we carry ourselves while navigating moments with patients and families. In nursing courses, professors commonly weave their stories as a nurse throughout their lectures, which demonstrate how they practice being a value-driven nurse as they push us to think about how we can provide equitable care and advocate for our patients. These values provide a cornerstone for the challenges that we may experience as a nurse, and have served me well as a nursing student over the years.
When I began my studies at USF in Fall 2019, I found myself ending my first year of college with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. During that summer, I spent time on the university’s COVID-19 Public Health Working Group and published my first academic article, Combating Xenophobia in the Covid-19 Pandemic: The Importance of Health Literacy. My sophomore year was marked by the start of the nursing curriculum, but also a fully-online academic year. Throughout the semesters, I found myself learning nursing fundamentals over Zoom, taking a weekly 45-minute bus ride through San Francisco to get a COVID-19 test before my clinical rotation, and practicing my head-to-toe assessments with an inflatable patient mannequin. With an in-person clinical rotation — which not all nursing students had during this time — I qualified to receive the new coronavirus vaccine shortly after it received emergency authorization because of my role in direct patient care. At the same time, the contributions of nurses began to enter the public eye, and my own awareness of as a budding healthcare worker — a “future nurse,” as the nursing student body calls ourselves — became more prominent.
The majority of my nursing education took place in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had its own challenges. Personally, online classes were difficult for me, as it was challenging to visualize complex concepts and feel community over a screen. Clinical sites were limited, and many of us experienced last-minute changes and readjusted to different schedules and locations. As nursing burnout reached mainstream news, I had moments of doubt and worry about entering the profession. Despite this, classes were marked by my instructors’ ability to instill purpose and meaning into our studies. Working with patients and having many opportunities throughout the years is something I do not take for granted, especially considering the circumstances.
As I complete my BSN this academic year, there is much to look forward to. While planning for my future, I have been able to spend time in the moment with friends and work as a nursing assistant on the weekends. I am currently looking forward to accompanying the School of Nursing & Health Professions Dean Eileen Fry-Bowers, and meeting nursing students across the country at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Student Policy Summit in Washington, D.C in the spring. With much of my studies focusing on patient care, I am beginning to take time to focus on the nursing profession itself, too. In my writing, I have been able to share my perspective on nursing stereotypes in Challenging Stereotypes About Nurses, a featured article in the magazine for the National Student Nurses’Association. As I prepare to complete my time at USF, I find myself excited for what the younger nursing students will accomplish.
Through all, I am getting ready to enter the nursing profession with optimism. As I think back to my conversation with my patient, I am glad that we met, too. My patients — much like my professors — have shaped who I am as a nursing student and I am grateful. I look forward to bringing these lessons and values into my future career as a nurse. My hope for future nursing students is for each of them to recognize their own ability to positively impact others — and to equally recognize a patient’s ability to impact them as well.
Sunshine Joyce Alba Batasin will be graduating with her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) in May 2023. She has been recognized for her student leadership as a former recipient of the USF Excellence in Leadership & Service Award and Residential Life Social Responsibility Award. On campus, she has held roles as a member of the McGrath Scholars Program, a University Ambassador, and Resident Advisor.
This piece is dedicated to her parents and sister.