After "shadowing" at hospital, Kia Washington graduates in nursing, starts career
This article is a revised reprint of Young Saint Louis (October 2009)
Kia Washington's path toward a career in nursing started when she had a chance to "shadow" a practicing nurse at Barnes-Jewish Hospital when she was in high school. She participated in the BJC School Outreach and Youth Development “Ground Hog” job shadow day.
After graduating from Marquette High School, Washington attended Truman State University in Northeast Missouri and then transferred to the Barnes-Jewish School of Nursing. She graduated in July 2009.
Her actual nursing career started in September 2009 when she began making rounds at St. Anthony's Medical Center in St. Louis.
Asked if she ever questioned her decision to try for a career in nursing, she said, "I never had a doubt. I'm glad I've done what I've done. Nursing is a great field." She added, "It is hard work but very rewarding." Washington said her family was a little surprised with her career choice since no one in her family was in the health career field. But, she said she liked the idea of the close interaction of a nurse with the patients. "That interaction is very important," she said.
Asked about advice she might give to young people on choosing a career, Washington urged youngsters to seek out professionals in their chosen field and get their ideas. In her case, that opportunity came when she was a high school junior with the chance for a day of "shadowing" nurses at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
Washington had another unique experience while seeking advice about the nursing field. “I had a friend who had a relative who was a midwife in Arizona. My friend and I took a trip there and spent two days with her when she was working in a hospital in Tempe," Washington said.
Washington said midwives have an opportunity to work in hospitals in Arizona and handle births of babies. "We got to observe a birth. The mother had a little bit of trouble with the birth but everything worked out all right," she said. Washington said she is interested in being a nurse in the labor and delivery department of a hospital. She said she didn't specialize in any specific area of nursing while in school.
Washington said she had a variety of hands-on experience while in nursing school. However, she said much of the experience involved plastic models of patients. The models were set up in hospital rooms and had a variety of simulated illnesses or injuries.
She said there were different scenes in various departments such as obstetrics as well as operating rooms. "You need that hands-on experience," she said.
For instance, some models depict mothers-to-be when the students are studying obstetrics. In the emergency room setting, the model might show injuries or even exposed organs after an accident.
Part of Washington's nursing education also involved circulating at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, where she saw actual patients who were in for treatments.
Before starting her actual nursing, Washington took part in an orientation session at St. Anthony’s Medical Center.
She said she still has a goal of working in the labor and delivery department at the hospital.
However, she also has her eye on further education. First, she wants to finish a year or more of actual nursing experience. Then, she said, "I want to get a master's degree in nursing."
She said she'll be able to pursue the advance degree while continuing with her full-time nursing position. By working three 12-hour shifts, that means she will have four days free each week. Also, many of the courses can be taken online with only periodic visits to the school.
Advancement in the nursing field is increasingly tied to advanced education. Also, more education allows nurses to shift their career path as their interests change or broaden. Washington said she graduated from nursing school last July. But, she had her job interview at St. Anthony's the same week she graduated. Washington added some more advice to younger kids who might be interested in the health field. "Make sure you are passionate about what you're doing. Remember, this is a career, not just a job," she said.
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