Smile 15: Melanie R.

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Name: Melanie R.
State or Country: New Jersey
School: Holy Name Medical Center School of Nursing & Walden University
Occupation: Registered Nurse

What is your educational background?
I have a general science degree from Bergen Community College, a RN diploma from Holy Name and currently working on my BSN from Walden University.

Why did you choose this career?
I wasn’t sure what I was doing when I first got out of high school. I tried different career paths but never found real happiness or interest in any of them. I decided to try out EMT and fell in love with medicine, and felt that this would be the best path for me. I got into nursing school and worked my butt off and here I am; truly happy with my career choice.

What do you like the most about your career, and the least?
What I love most about my career is the genuine happiness and comfort I give to my patients. They are so grateful for the small things as well as the life-saving measures. My biggest smile comes from the Hispanic community, they will come into the ER and be relieved that I can communicate with them and for them so their needs are heard. My least favorite part is more the political parts of the career that make me feel limited in the quality of care I can provide to my patients, but that unfortunately is the business world.

What advice do you wish someone would have shared with you before entering your career?
This career is equally rewarding as it is in disappointing! You must hold on to all the small things that are good and bring joy because sometimes you are talked down too, cursed at, swung at and disrespected. Unfortunately, in this field, not everyone wants to be saved and that is something you must also keep in mind.

Do you have any tips or advice for people considering this field for their profession?
Be ready to put in a lot of sleepless nights, gain about 15 pounds and basically live, eat and breathe nursing. You are going to make great friends in school and be sleeping in the library a lot, haha. Enjoy the small victories you hit in clinical and be happy that you passed a test! Not so much the grade, because not everyone can do this. Write yourself a letter stating your goals, put them in the air. I wrote a letter to myself freshman year and accomplished it; I read it again when I graduated and I remember crying because I did what I said I would.

How did you manage your stress and workload during school?
I wasn’t very good. I dyed my hair a lot and stress ate a lot, but the friendships I made in nursing school, my study group, they are the reason I pushed through. I also made time for myself and my friends, for example if I didn’t have an exam on Monday, I made sure that one night that weekend I went out and had a good time. I put in my work to study but I made sure that at least once a week I hung out and separated myself from nursing. I also would blast music in my car on the way to school or work, and just took those small moments to destress.

Name one of your favorite experiences during your time studying or working?
In both working and studying, I truly enjoyed my company. Nothing like nurses sharing their crazy stories! We also would throw scrub tops at each other, or make faces from across the hall. Venting to each other or crying with each other. Sometimes we want to cry and it just takes a fellow nurse to say, “No, you will not let them make you cry” and truly you shake it off and keep going. My favorite experiences are probably all related to that, the relationships you share in the workplace because this field is HARD and you need to be able to share it with someone.

What are some helpful materials/resources you used to study and prepare for your board or license exams?
Helpful resources were ATI and my personal favorite was UWORLD. For my boards, I studied Monday through Thursday before my exam (About 1 month). I did 75 questions a day, and copied and pasted all my wrong answers into a word document and reviewed it. I felt confident the day I took my boards, just regular test jitters. I passed my test with 75 questions (which is the minimum amount of questions you can take).

What do you use for your everyday oral hygiene routine?

Toothbrush: Berkley Jenson
Toothpaste: Colgate Total Fresh Mint Stripe
Floss: Oral B Glide Pro Health
Mouth Rinse: Listerine Total Care

What makes you smile?

My friends, my family and most of the time my work as a nurse and when I volunteer as an EMT

Anything else you’d like to share?

This may sound cliché, but seriously you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. I am proof that years of failing, years of being clueless and lost, that you can come out of it. I have turned my entire life around when I stopped making excuses and started working hard for myself. It’s okay to be selfish as long as you’re not hurting others.

Photos in this post are credited to Melanie R.

Thank you, Melanie, for contributing to smilesofpeople.com!

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