Beginnings of a Lifetime
Submitted by Billie Cecile Overton RN,MSN
When I was sixteen my mother and I had a sit down talk on what I wanted to focus on as an adult. We discussed many options. At first I thought I wanted to be a teacher like my role model Miss Eliza Mack. She was my 5th grade teacher; I was inspired by her dedication to her students and her community involvement in our neighborhood. Miss Mack was also our next neighbor, and she had a sister, Miss Anna bell Mack. She was a registered nurse and she was visiting on her vacation when I first met her. She invited me over to discuss how she felt about being a nurse. She discussed the positive and the negative aspects of nursing. I remember how her passion and compassion came through during our conversation. I have always been a compassionate and caring individual myself, and I thought even at that young age that maybe, just maybe I could be a good nurse.
In the fall I began my quest toward my professional career. I proudly wore my white cap and our student uniform. It was a white apron with a pinstriped dress. We had to wear white shoes and white support hose. We had inspection of our appearance before we could be allowed to follow the nurses on the floor. Our uniforms and caps were starched and no scuff marks were allowed on your white shoes. i was determined to be a role model and an asset to our profession.
As my professional career began to flourish I began to work in a pediatric unit. I had so much caring and compassion for children. I was always how amazed at how resilient children can be. I cared for a little boy named Tommy who had cancer. One day he was dancing in his room because his mother was bringing him cooked pig feet. It did not matter that he became nauseated and vomited, he had his favorite meal. I worked pediatrics and mother-baby for eleven years, I cried many times with families after losing a child.
As time goes by the constant loss can make a person feel the need to change focus in their career. I transitioned from caring for children to caring for adults. One special population I have enjoyed caring for is our country's veterans. These groups of people who have served our country do not receive the accolades they deserve. Our veteran population suffers from multiple co-morbidities, both physical and psychiatric. I have met veterans from World War II to Afghanistan. There multiple needs are unique, and the way view the care that they receive depends on how they perceive the way the government treats their illness. They usually wait until they are very ill, or they may try to commit suicide rather than seek help. One special comment I say to all the veterans and active duty military patients is "thank you for serving". This small respectful comment is my personal way of communicating that I care and without them our country would not be the same. It is a small teardrop in a large bucket.
I became a nurse because of my compassion for helping others. I try to smile with every situation and bring joy to everyone. I want every one of my patients to feel they are special and to see that I enjoy my job. I encourage every nurse to strive to be the best nurse that they can be. I have cared for many types of people with various types of needs, of all ages and ethnic background. The one thing I have always seen consistently in people is that it helps to smile and hold their hand. We may not understand each other's language, but I truly believe there is communication of the heart that is passed with those simple gestures and it goes beyond words. Words can never express the quietness that is shared with the death of another's love one; only silence and hand holding can convey those feelings. I have been a nurse for thirty-eight years. There have been many people whose lives I have touched, and they have touched mine. When I leave my job every day I believe that I have cared for each one of my patients as if they were my own family member. I pause, reflect, and then say to myself "yes", and I able to go home with my own peace of mind. My mentors were proud of my career choice. I am a nurse: this I was meant to be.