“I thought I chose nursing on a whim,” said Jackie Nicholson, RN of Southwick.
Having no nurses in her family previously and no real experience with or knowledge of health care, and with college application deadlines fast approaching, Nicholson found herself contemplating her career path. She chose nursing because she enjoyed her anatomy and physiology class and because of her desire to help people.
“I know now, ten years later, that what I thought was a whim was actually God’s plan for me all along. Nursing is what I was made for,” said Nicholson, who went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in Nursing (BSN) from Endicott College.
In college, Nicholson fell in love with pediatric nursing while completing a 10-week externship at Baystate Children’s Hospital. She returned to Baystate Medical Center after college where she worked on an observation unit for nearly three years.
Developing forever relationships
“I kept in touch with the manager of the Infants and Children’s Unit, and she called me when a position opened up there,” Nicholson said.
“I like the family aspect of pediatric nursing. Parents are really involved in the care of their children, and it’s my role to not only care for my young patients, but their families as well. Also, I develop relationships with chronic patients who repeatedly return to the hospital. One thing I treasure most about the work I do is these ‘forever relationships.’ Each time they come into the hospital, it’s their nurses who offer them a familiar, reassuring face and bring a sense of comfort to them,” she added.
During National Nurses Week, May 6-12, nurses around the country like Nicholson, including others at Baystate Health facilities throughout the area, are being honored for the important role they play in delivering the highest level of safe, quality care to their patients. Today’s nearly 3.4 million registered nurses in the United States constitute our nation’s largest health care profession. Nurses practice in diverse roles, such as clinicians, administrators, researchers, educators and policymakers.
“During National Nurses Week, we extend a special thank you to all of our nurses as they continue to deliver a higher state of caring to their patients. These talented registered nurses deserve special recognition for their efforts in delivering compassionate care, while encompassing the principles of safety and quality so ingrained in the nursing profession,” said Nancy Shendell-Falik, RN, MA, president of Baystate Medical Center and senior vice president for Hospital Operations.
Nursing is a team effort
When asked about the most rewarding aspects of being a nurse, without hesitation Nicholson noted it’s the relationships she has made with her patients and their family members. But, it’s also about her co-workers, whom she refers to as “the team.”
The team concept is a large aspect of nursing.
"We work well together as a team on the Infants and Children’s Unit. We help and support each other and there is a real sense of camaraderie. We are all working towards the same goal - to make our patients well,” said Nicholson.
How does she feel at the end of the day?
“At the end of the day, I come away with a feeling of thankfulness. I am thankful for my own health, and my family’s health, but most thankful of the small role I’ve played in contributing to the lives of my patients and their families,” she said.
Magnet Hospital for Nursing Excellence
Sponsored by the American Nurses Association, National Nurses Week has as its 2016 theme, “Culture of Safety – It starts with You,” recognizing registered nurses as an indispensable component of the safety and quality of care of hospitalized patients.
Baystate Medical Center’s high quality nursing care earned its third designation in a row as a Magnet Hospital for Nursing Excellence – one of only nine hospitals in Massachusetts – a distinction that places the hospital’s nursing staff among the finest in the nation. Nationally, only about 7% of all health care organizations carry this prestigious Magnet designation.
Learn more about nursing careers at Baystate Children’s Hospital.