By Rose Conlin, sophomore BSN student
There was never one specific moment when I knew nursing was for me. I am the daughter of a former Navy doctor who I always saw helping people every chance that she had. As a little girl, I felt called to follow her example and to help others whenever possible. Growing up, my nickname was “Mama Rose.” I was the one who always had an extra hair tie, would remember everyone’s schedule, and offered a shoulder to cry on after a long day. This calling only became stronger as I continued to experience life, and it grew even more prominent the closer I came to starting college.
My older cousin and godfather, Jonathan, passed away when I was 12 after a 15-year fight with brain cancer. As a result of a medulloblastoma tumor when he was 12 years old, Jonathan was paralyzed on one side of his body and had a trach for as long as I knew him.
Jonathan proved that it is possible to do anything you set your mind to. He showed me that just because someone does not walk or talk the same as you, it does not make them less in any way. My experience with Jonathan opened my eyes to how important the medical field is and it strengthened my desire to be a nurse.
More recently, my grandfather passed away. Going into my freshman year of college, he was quite sick and ended up in the hospital for several weeks. A stay in a nursing home followed before he transitioned home with numerous medications and treatments that my grandma had to manage.
My grandparents live in Indiana, PA (about an hour away from campus) and my move from California to Pennsylvania was heavily influenced by my relationship with them. Throughout my freshman year, I was able to spend some weekends with my grandparents and help my grandma with some of the things that my grandpa needed — giving medication, cutting up food to make it easier for him to chew, breathing treatments, repositioning him in the bed and getting him up to walk. For some reason, my grandpa would listen to me very well, so I could always convince him to get out of bed or eat just one more piece of chicken.
My grandpa always believed in me and constantly reminded me of how strong I am. In fact, he even encouraged me to pursue an Army ROTC Nursing scholarship, which has given me the opportunity to serve others in another way. This past March, at the beginning of COVID-19, I was able to spend a few weeks with him before he passed. In a way, that time felt like my first clinical rotation and helped me feel more confident in my decision to become a nurse. Some of the things that I would help my grandpa with, such as filling up his water cup or helping him with his physical therapy exercises, seemed rather meaningless, but seeing how much the little things helped him feel better always brought a smile to my face.
One of the biggest things that I have learned throughout the past three semesters as a Duquesne nursing student is that a vital part of being a good nurse is simply caring for your patient, and striving to bring a smile to their face or a sense of peace to their loved ones.