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Field of dreams

From the Summer 2012 issue of Scrubs

In my imagination, nurses choose their fields with the same directness and clarity we bring to all aspects of the job. So, ICU nurses appreciate everything that modern technology can do for the very ill, and pediatric nurses adore children. Simple, easy. And yet, it’s doubtful if any real nurse fits these one-dimensional stereotypes, least of all me, the former English professor who became a nurse working in medical oncology.

Oddly enough, a bookmark galvanized my choice. I was almost done with nursing school, and one afternoon I was there trying to cram a few last bits of information into my overly full brain when I noticed a small pile of bookmarks lying on the table in front of me. I picked one up: “Top 10 Reasons to Be an Oncology Nurse.”

The bookmarks came from the Oncology Nursing Society and I couldn’t believe how powerfully some of the reasons spoke to me. Reason #7, “Learn about cutting-edge biological and genetic therapies,” expressed my wish to work in a field that would constantly challenge my intellectual drive. Reason #10, “Gain a broad expertise in every body system, as cancer can affect any of them,” spoke to my desire to be in a dynamic clinical environment that would keep me on my toes. And reason #4, “Guide people through a difficult time and help them survive it,” suggested I could make use of the emotional lessons I’d learned from dealing with the solid tumor cancer that swept through my mother’s family. I felt a light turn on in my head. The bookmark allowed me to identify myself clinically, and that experience of self-recognition was so profound that for over four years I have safeguarded that bookmark.

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Theresa Brown, RN

Theresa Brown, RN, lives and works in the Pittsburgh area. She received her BSN from the University of Pittsburgh, and during what she calls her past life, a PhD in English from the University of Chicago.
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