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Memories of My Nursing Career

It is National Nurses Week so I’ve been thinking about my experiences as an RN, Nurse Executive and RN Instructor, and now as a nurse cancer survivor. I also began to ponder my memories and prepare a commencement address for my alma mater nursing school.

My forty-nine-year career began as an excited and eager RN in the Intensive Care Unit caring for patients with complex medical needs. It was apparent from the earliest moments that nurses make the difference. A commitment to lifelong learning is one of the most important aspects of nursing.

Recognizing the impact of emotional support for cancer patients

My career involved numerous courses, college degrees, and national certifications in my specialty areas. I learned about quality improvement, which is a method to evaluate patient care and ensure positive patient outcomes. Early in my career, I recognized the impact of emotional support for the cancer patient and family, so I implemented a cancer support group with the assistance of an oncologist who would later become my personal oncologist and friend.

I have learned that nurses are passionate about their practice. We are touched by the lives of our patients and their family. Nursing is filled with challenges and opportunities. I once found myself leading a nursing department in an acute care facility. The importance of “safe staffing” to ensure positive patient outcomes became a major issue. It is quite reassuring that recent nursing contracts in NYC hospitals have mandated improved nurse to patient ratios. This is consistent with current research that demonstrates improved patient outcomes when nursing staffing is adequate.

A new perspective on nurses as a cancer patient

Most recently, I have had the pleasure of “making nurses” as a nursing instructor. Our nursing program emphasizes strong clinical skills with a focus on assessment and intervention skills. We stress the importance of listening to the patient. My cancer diagnosis and unexpected hospital admissions due to complications of chemotherapy required that I take a leave of absence for a semester. However, as a patient, I could appreciate the importance of caring, qualified nurses who provided excellent care.

The following are important concepts that I have tried to emphasize with my nursing students:

  • Knowledge is power: Continue to learn and include research findings into practice so that our patients receive the best possible care.
  • Always put the patient first: Nursing must include advocacy, clear communication, and patient teaching.
  • Nurses make the Difference: Strive to promote safe staffing to ensure positive patient outcomes.

Feeding my passion for learning and teaching

Today, I continue to feed my passion for nursing by teaching part-time. As a cancer survivor, I am able to “give back” by volunteering as a patient advocate for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. By participating in our website, I can share information, address patient issues, and learn from fellow cancer survivors.

I am most proud and passionate about the impact of nurses on cancer survivors.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • bluchs
    7 months ago

    Thank You for all the years of helping people in need.
    Nurses are the best.
    I spent 35 years working in long term health care.
    I respect nurses, they are the backbone of healthcare.
    Emotional Support, You bet!
    My Cancer Center nurses, are the best of the best.
    They are truly, and without question caring and loving and supportive people.
    When ever I was hospitalized, and I have been in and out for 4 years now.
    It always amazes me, how wonderful the nurses are.
    Some of the doctors are good, but most of the staff in the hospitals are just there for a check.
    Not the nurses, they are there, because they truly do care.
    I can feel it every time I go there. Bravo to all the nurses out there.
    And Thank You!
    Not just because this is nursing week.
    But because, we all owe you our lives.
    Nurses Rock!

  • Carole McCue author
    7 months ago

    Thank you for your appreciation. I wish you good health. Sending prayers🙏🏻

  • Ann Harper moderator
    7 months ago

    Your career sounds amazing. That’s great that you are giving back as a nurse instructor. Your years if experience will absolutely help the next generation if nurses to be as caring and committed as you were.

  • Carole McCue author
    7 months ago

    Thank you Ann. I am blessed and appreciate every moment. Wishing you a Happy Mother’s Day🙏🏻

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