Becoming a nurse: Turning personal experience into a career

Someone once told me that nurses are the life force that make a hospital thrive, and function, on a daily basis. There is no truer statement. 

My IBD journey started when I was 15. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and spent a month in the hospital trying to recover enough to function in my everyday life again. It was, and remains to be, the hardest month of my life. I always knew I wanted to go into the medical field, but I didn’t know what kind of medical professional I wanted to be, although nursing was always in the forefront of my mind. Those four weeks I was inpatient I got to see every aspect of inpatient care, and I was blown away by the nurses. I had never encountered in my short life individuals who cared for me as much as they did, and they had only just met me at shift change that morning. By week two, it was pretty clear nursing was going to be my passion. 

People ask me what I remember about being inpatient as long as I was, and while the complications, transfusions, and procedures are things I won’t forget, what I really remember are the nurses sitting in my room and simply talking with me, or asking me about my friends and my basketball team. Nobody else wanted to talk about that, and they made me feel at home in an environment that was anything but. Nurses have a way with their patients in which they make them feel safe. I was the type of patient to ask countless questions about the medicine, procedures, and other nursing interventions just because I was curious. The nurses smiled and answered them all patiently. I sat in that hospital bed, extremely sick and facing a long road to recovery, and I told myself I was going to be a nurse one day.



Fast forward to present day. I am 22 and I just graduated nursing school with honors distinction. I think often about how I got to where I am today, and there is no other answer than the nurses that inspired and led me along in my journey. My nurses would help me with my nursing care plans during my infusion, the nurses from the floor over six years ago keep up with me and encourage me in my studies. Next month I will start working on the same pediatric floor that I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis as a registered nurse. I am going to work alongside many of the same nurses that have impacted my life so deeply. 

Nurses deserves much more than just a week of celebration. They are the reason I am where I am today. All I want to do in life is become the type of nurse that makes an impact on a patient like the nurses I had. I hope that I can exhibit the same compassion and selflessness that was so clearly shown to me.

Sarah Kate DelaCourt is an ulcerative colitis patient from North Carolina and the co-chair of the Foundation's National Council of College Leaders.