Theodore Roosevelt (n.d.) once said, "Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care." This statement resonates with me because it encompasses the essence of a servant's heart that nurses should possess. My passion is in holistic, patient-centered nursing. In nursing school, we are taught to practice holistic nursing care, but in truth, nurses are often dissuaded from this in work settings by many factors that focus solely on the corporeal needs. This shift creates an ethical and moral dilemma for me as I could not elude the question, “What if they were my family?” I desire to study in a field that continually integrates mental health care. With this in mind, I am drawn to seek my graduate degree in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing at the University of Alabama. This is heavily influenced by the history of the excellence of UAB. Also, the positive experience propagated by UAB alumni thoroughly assures me of sound and supreme education.
I joined the American Psychiatric Nurse Association (APNA) to complete my graduate degree. I undertook and completed the APNA transition in practice course work in July. I then proceeded to work at Diamond Grove Mental Health Center. Here, I gained first-hand experience in mental health care for pediatric and adolescent patients. I plan to use my undergraduate coursework at MUW as the foundation for my graduate work. While undertaking my graduate degree at UAB, I will gain additional knowledge and experience, especially in practice delivery, care implementation for mental health patients and concepts of advanced psychopharmacology. Furthermore, I will have the capacity to sharpen my critical thinking skills while studying advanced biopsychosocial assessment models. I am conscious that the coursework will be complicated; nevertheless, I am looking forward to the challenges and rewards of this specialty.
I have worked for over 20 years as a Nurse across various patient populations. Ever since the start of my career, I have served in the following areas: Special Needs, Medical-Surgical, Home Care, Hospice, Emergency Services, Nurse Educator, and Mental Health Nursing. Honestly, my passion lies in advocating and caring for the pediatric/adolescent populations. Every child has a right to be happy. Currently, I am working as an educator for Health Science Core and Clinical Services. Teaching is rewarding; however, the years I served as a School Nurse fortified my resolve to care for those with mental health problems. When I began my school nurse career, it did not take me long to notice that the school setting's mental health services were fragmented.
DeSocio and Hootman (2004) argued that there is a relationship between school performance and mental health. Children who have difficulty learning have a greater risk of mental health problems. I saw this cycle play out continually during my career. Students with mental health problems were labeled as “attention seekers” and this made them perform poorly in their academic classes, resulting in further insecurity and low self-esteem. Lack of emphasis on addressing mental health concerns motivated me to educate the staff on the prevalence of mental health disorders in children. I taught them how to recognize signs and symptoms of common ailments and the importance of effectively referring those at-risk students to track their high-risk behaviors. As a result, we identified students with unmet mental health needs, improved outcomes, and reduced negative consequences. We included community outreach mental health services providers and, in doing so, secured resources for teaching and consultation. This fostered communication with parents and staff and allowed us to address follow-up needs and recommendations. Slowly but surely, the culture in the school changed.
Once I graduate, I will use my newly acquired knowledge and clinical experience to thoroughly and efficiently treat and advocate on behalf of communities and individuals battling psychiatric and mental health disorders. I will also educate the community by instilling essential knowledge and information thereby strengthening their resolve against poor mental health. My ultimate goal is to collaborate with APNA and National School Nurse Association and incorporate mental health screening as part of their yearly mandatory health screening. The implementation of this measure would improve school based mental health care substantially. I also envisage myself working in the community health care setting. I am looking forward to offering acute mental health care to community adolescent patients. My admission to the prestigious University of Alabama will, without doubt, be a great bolster towards the accomplishment of my goals.
DeSocio, J., & Hootman, J. (2004). Children’s mental health and school success. The Journal of School Nursing, 20(4), 189-196.
Roosevelt, T. (n.d). The Rough Riders: An Autobiography (Vol. 153). Library of America.
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