Blog By: Debora La Torre, MSN, APN, FNP-BC
Nursing. It is seen as one of the most trusted professions for the last 18 consecutive years. Not only is being a nurse a time-honored profession, it is respected globally. Yet, to those who bare R.N., or L.P.N after their names, it can be humbling as well. The recent admiration for my profession is not only justified but I believe society finally sees our impact of our calling. There have been many times throughout my career I can honestly say I have had the question "why did you become a nurse?". My response. "Nursing found me."
My journey is different from others, as a young child of Peruvian immigrants I had the dream of becoming a pediatrician growing up. I saw my own pediatrician (Dr. Pons) taking care of a diverse group of children in Newark, NJ. My young mind thought I can help take care of sick kids; I'd like that. Fast forward a couple of years and I realized that in the late 90s, my choices of paying for medical school were limited, and I could not image the impact this kind of financial burden would have caused parents and family (we were a family of 4 girls after I graduated high school). Yet, my dream of becoming a pediatrician did not falter, and options like the military caught my eye. I would join the military, after high school and have them pay for school and still be able to be a pediatrician. At a ripe age of 17, I had it all figured out. (I was so wrong.) So, I enlisted as a combat medic in the military, but little did I know that the tall tales of working solely in a hospital setting as my job were minimal. While stationed in paradise, I was working as a medic and taking prerequisites for my "medical degree" at a local college. Life was good, and things were going according to my plan. Then, September 11th happened, and my unit was set to deploy overseas the following year. Going to school was placed on hold, and I had to do what I was trained to do as a combat medic, a "doc". While in Afghanistan, we had several types of missions. We went on patrols, saw the locals, and completed different tasks that were needed. One, had me helping in the combat support hospital where we were taking care of the sick and wounded. That is where nursing found me, a couple of thousands of miles away from my home, or any college institution. In a middle of a "war zone", a poverty-stricken land is where I realized that having the ability to help those during their most vulnerable moments, awakened my niche. I was the hand they held during the pain, helping them get better, or being the ears to listen to their worries about their families back home. I realized that my hands were not the only things that helped, it was my compassion, and the will to provide the best care possible for them. Those couple of days of being in the combat support hospital, changed my life. It awakened the desire to pursue nursing as what I was meant to do.
It has been 15 years since nursing found me, and now we are all facing a new enemy. Some feelings returned as old friends when COVID19 hit the US. Our front-line fighters have been battling it non-stop and many have lost brothers and sisters in this profession. The journey here has not been easy, and we are scared. Yet, nothing has made me regret the journey to obtain R.N at the end of my name.
Debora La Torre is a Family Nurse Practitioner practicing in the Urgent Care setting in Northern New Jersey.