An Interview with Michelle Anderson, RN, RCC Class of 2001, who will complete her BSN degree in December 2006
HOW WAS IT GOING BACK to SCHOOL from RCC?
The first thing that comes to mind when I think about being a nursing student at RCC has been will be the extra support that the nursing faculty/staff always gave the students. There were too many times when I had personal issues, not just myself but classmates but the faculty always found the way to go the extra mile.
I’VE BEEN IN YOUR SHOES
So from the first day I knew there was that personal involvement that you won’t get anywhere else- that has always been first and foremost having been a student here. So now I find myself being in that situation whenever I see a RCC student, I could be half asleep at work, going through the halls I say “It’s going to be OK” So I find myself talking to the students and I think the most comforting thing for me to do now is just to say, “Oh yea, by the way, I graduated from there and I went through the same thing, and oh yea, I failed out of a class, and don’t worry about that just do what it takes to get through to here. And I know when I spoke to other people when I was in their shoes it made all the difference but when you speak to someone who actually was in your shoes they would say OK maybe I can do it because this person here said she’s done it.
SO YOU TOOK THIS UPON YOUR SELF……..
I don’t have to do anything it’s just there and that feels good.
As far as my work environment and how I feel RCC has influenced me; It was very positive. I had confidence in myself and as long as I knew that when I din’t know something, that I was OK because that’s the biggest- it’s not how much you know and what you do , but to be able to be safe and if you know you don’t know something, make sure everyone else knows and addresses it so you can find out what to do. That’s part of that comfort level that started from the beginning.
WHAT ABOUT GOING ON FOR YOUR BSN?
I’m currently in my last semester and am taking Leadership and lot of this plays into my work. I am a vocal person and I do care about things being fair and appropriate, part of that is my foundation from RCC and part of that is who I am as a person. Being a BSN student, I am more in tune to Leadership and policies. Getting our of my narrow thinking, “ OK I have a patient to take care of….” I’m trying to look at the broader scope now and that’s related to other coursework, a lot of new learning. Now I’m saying, “Why aren’t we taught in school from day one to be proactive in our profession so that we can be really be looked at as professionals without having to justify or validate, that it’s just a given ? Why are we not more aware, politically involved with health care so we don’t have someone else telling us what our staffing issues should be, so they will listen to us and understand that we know… ?
WE NEED TO THINK ABOUT LEADERSHIP and HEALTH CARE POLICY from the beginning…
I’ve been thinking how to we go about incorporating that into all of our programs so that we don’t have to wait five years down the line before that light bulb starts going off to say that I need to be more involved in this direction and that direction because it’s a complete process. If that seed starts from the very beginning it won’t take so long to blossom and maybe that will help us further on down, it will definitely help, further on down the line.
I’m doing this but let me tell you why and it makes a difference this way and if I had only thought about doing it earlier like where you are now, perhaps we’d have a stronger voice and more say because it’s going to take a few years for us to take control of what we should already have control of now; perhaps we’d have a stronger voice.
HOW MANY ALUMS CAN DIRECT THEMSELVES into LEADERSHIP, GOING ON TO SCHOOL- GIVING IT THEIR TIME AND ENERGY WHEN THEY ARE JUST TAKING ONE STEP AT A TIME
I know it’s trial and error and as an alum who has been out a little while, I take things for granted- like, How to pick up your transcripts- that’s all important.
IT’S ABOUT TAKING THE SMALL STEPS GETTING THE FINANCES IN ORDER TOO
When you go to school you’ll really want to know that you can handle the finances because you don’t want to be stressed out so take your time and write it all down.
When we talk about this school versus that school- the one thing I know is that it’s not about what the school has here and what the school has there. It’s about -what is most important to you? What do you need most? Do you need flexibility most? Do you need more support? Put those top three things down and then we’ll figure out which way to go . I think we are in the right direction..
WHEN YOU WENT BACK WHAT SUPPORTS WERE HELPFUL TO YOU?
Work environment, school environment?
Both were blessings . Time constraint was always an issue.
The same support I had gotten at RCC I have gotten here (UMassBoston) definitely not as widespread not as close knit but I found the one or two people that have the same rapport and I keep up with both of them and when you are able to find that support it keeps me fresh and it keeps my wheels turning so I am able to think well what about this? and gee I never thought about that? so it kinda keeps me in the process that I’m in especially now I am a mentor and a mentee at the same time that in itself it’s not a challenge I’m in awe, a dual role, it’s unique definitely doable
YOU HAVE TO BE WILLING. IF YOU STICK YOUR HAND OUR SOMEONE WILL TAKE IT AND SOMEONE WILL LEAD YOU. IT’S UP TO YOU TO MAKE THE BEST OF IT.
My work environment is totally supportive. My nurse manager is completely supportive and I did get the grant from work as well. So it’s my philosophy- there is so much out there you just have to be willing. If you stick your hand out someone is going to take it and someone will lead you the way and it’s up to you to make the best of it. At the same time remember everything you are going through because now I need to reach back and do the same thing and that I know is a given. It’s just a matter of trying to streamline it so that it goes as smoothly as possible.
I NEED TO REACH BACK AND DO THE SAME THING FOR OTHERS
I think it is similar to happiness and disposition. I grew up hearing from my mom that my personality was a blessing and a gift and that I was to share that, and that my smile made such a difference, and I hear that from my patients. That small bit of happiness that I live by, that’s my golden rule .. that I have to be happy. S I have to share that part of my happiness. Nursing is part of that leadership that I wasn’t aware of, per se, is part of what I do, so if that’s part of my happiness and my happiness is my gift then you have to share, of course, you don’t have to but then ………..it regenerates
WHY GO BACK?
YOU CAN’T SEE IT NOW BUT IT ONLY GETS BETTER. YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE WILL TO DO IT.
If you are in anyway shape or form just an inkling happy with the situation you are in now then you have to go back because there is so much more. You are robbing yourself if you don’t continue. You can’t see it because you are not there. But it only gets better. You have more to give, to offer, more to learn, and it’s definitely doable and obtainable, no matter, what your circumstances. You have to have the will to do it.
An interview with Michelle Anderson, RN, BSN graduate Dec 2006, UMass-Boston
Working fulltime at Mass General, a mentor and member of the RCC Nursing Advisory Board, and former lab facilitator in the nursing lab along with Dean JoAnn Mulready-Shick, March 2006
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