Friday, September 1, 2006

UCSF Personal Statement

REFLECTING ON: I guess the entrance people read this and thought it was good you and idea of what I did before UCSF...

Shortly after graduating from Berkeley, I found myself standing in front of thirty-five street-wise sixth graders in a dilapidated classroom in Newark, New Jersey. I was drawing a diagram of the irrigation systems of ancient Mesopotamia. My back was to the class and I heard someone cracking jokes about my drawing. It was Esperanza. After making several home visits to determine why Esperanza never did her homework, I discovered that her father was a crack addict and that her mother was a prostitute. Despite her distressing living situation, Esperanza still smiled at me and quipped that I was a better teacher than an artist. Then she stopped smiling, looked me dead in the eye and said, “Mr. Chadwick, I don’t mean to be rude, but what the f--- do I need to know this for?” The class collectively gasped and I had an epiphany: not only did few of these kids care about ancient Mesopotamia, but this knowledge could not help them at all with their most pressing problems. It was in this moment, in the heart of Newark, that I dedicated my life to helping people who had the greatest and most immediate needs.

Esperanza's question has had a profound effect on my professional career. Since that time, I have only held occupations in which I could help underserved youth with their most urgent needs. Upon returning to the Bay Area, I filled the role of surrogate parent to twelve severely emotionally disturbed (SED) boys as a group home counselor at St. Vincent’s School for Boys. During twenty-four-hour shifts, I learned to navigate the ebb and flow of their volatile natures while teaching them basic life skills. Next, I continued my work at Treasure Island Job Corps where I forged partnerships with local businesses and unions in order to place inner-city youth in construction and childcare jobs. Most recently, I returned to the classroom at Timothy Murphy School in order to teach academic subjects to the St. Vincent’s population. Though it was not uncommon for me to dodge a thrown chair in the middle of a lesson, my student’s extraordinary stories of survival and obvious need inspired me to show them how learning could enrich their day-to-day lives.

Whether I was working with a “student” or a “client”, I came to realize that the most appealing part of my work has been helping each person to gain the tools they need to survive their personal crises. I have chosen to pursue a career in nursing because it is a natural extension of my desire and talent for helping people through extraordinarily stressful circumstances. Nursing offers me the unique opportunity to integrate my crisis management experience with a precise set of science-based assessment and intervention skills that will have a significant impact on the health of an individual. Taking Chemistry, Physiology, and Anatomy has only confirmed my sincere interest in understanding the human body and has further inspired me to learn the methods to heal it. In order to help the people that are most critically in need, I intend on becoming a Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist in an Emergency Department. Through direct patient care, I believe that nurses are the critical link between a patient’s needs and the road to recovery. I am excited to combine the skills I have acquired as an educator and social worker with those that I will learn in order to become an outstanding nurse.

To gain a better understanding of Critical Care Nursing, I have been volunteering weekly in the Emergency Department of an East Bay hospital. Knowing that all experience is what one makes of it, I have observed, investigated, and absorbed as much as possible. Mostly though, I clean as many beds and stock as many supplies as quickly as I can so as to let the nurses and doctors do their work. And they do work. Hard. I once asked a veteran nurse named Maureen why she had become a nurse. Immediately “Moe” sized me up for what I was: a little green. She said that although she did her job because she enjoyed helping people, “it ain’t all superman stuff where you’re bringing someone back from the brink of death. Sometimes you’re just wiping butts.” At first I was puzzled by Moe’s blunt response. Then I realized that she was testing me. Moe was trying to tell me that there are many parts of caring for and healing a person and some of those duties are far from glamorous.

Although indeed “it ain’t all superman stuff,” each interaction with a patient or their family is a unique opportunity for assessment and intervention, no matter where that assessment might take you. I have watched in awe as RNs skillfully and thoughtfully navigate the countless different situations that bombard the Emergency Department. I have observed RNs assist in resetting dislocated shoulders, rapidly assess heart attacks and administer nitroglycerin, restrain violent drunks, soothe a woman that had to identify her deceased sister, irrigate the wound of a man that was hit directly between the eyes with a hockey puck, calm an erratic 17 year-old that had ingested psychedelic mushrooms, do a blood transfusion on a woman with a hemoglobin level of three and a scabies infestation, and perform countless other duties that boggle my mind. Even more impressive than the breadth of technical knowledge the RNs applied in each case was the obvious compassion they showed each patient.

I want this job. I want to know how to do what they do.

I am resolute in my decision to become an Emergency Room nurse. Emergency nursing enthralls me because I can fundamentally help people to heal, and in turn, pursue the things that give their life meaning. It would be an honor and a privilege to undertake my nursing education at UCSF.