Stranger 17, Day 17 – Meet Jennifer, the “Empathetic Nursing Student”

Stranger 17, Day 17 - Meet Jennifer

I was a little worried if I was going to meet a Stranger today. I actually met a couple people who turned me down for the interview. The picture requirement is the biggest reason people reject this project, but even then, most have been open. But today, I was a bit worried after having two decline late in the day. So as I sat at Starbucks, I was wondering and looking around frequently for who would be open. Well, I didn’t have to look too hard as the woman in front of me was open to meet.

I originally was hesitant to ask her as she sat in front of me with a spread of school materials. Her book was about 7″ thick and she had a gallon-sized ziplock bag full of markers. She had two drinks and was alternating pen colors as she took notes. Yeah, I wasn’t sure if she would be too busy, but I asked anyways. And sure enough, she was busy and had to run. However, she was also interested in the project and wanted to take a few minutes to connect. Awesome. Sooo…

Meet Jennifer, 33

Before we began, I noticed Jennifer had a cool necklace around her, so I asked her about it.

“It’s an EKG pattern… for the heart rate monitor. Symbol of me being in nursing school.”

Curious, I asked her who gave it to her.

“Bought it for myself,” she laughed. “It’s a treat for myself for having a great semester and being really proud of where I am in my life right now, and what I’m doing for my future career.” I feel like she laughed at first because I might’ve thought something like a necklace would have been a gift from someone. However, I actually really love how she bought it for her as a treat to herself, and, this is key, for being proud of all that she’s achieved and will achieve.

Who are you?

“I’m human! I consider myself a citizen of the universe. I’m multi-faceted, and I can be friends with many different people. I can do many different things — multi-talented. So I think that translates really well into healthcare because I can relate to many different people.” She’s laughing again. I immediately love her spirit.

How did you get into nursing school?

“I started out as a Fine Arts major. That was my undergrad. I worked my 9-5 jobs, but I’ve always had an affinity for healthcare. I’ve always been fascinated with the body and the anatomy and disease processes. I wasn’t attracted to the medical aspect of healthcare. I was more into the nursing aspect, and being able to spend time with people on a 1-on-1 level. You can really care for people. I’m a nurturing person by nature, so healthcare always appealed to me. I was told by family and friends I should be a nurse, but I never wanted to do it because of school. But here I am doing it trying not to jump off a bridge in the process!” Haha, okay.

I can tell she works real hard, and she’s got a great spirit about her. In fact, I told her she seems very proud to which she responded, “I really am. This is really the first time. I’m can be a very indecisive person… very unsure of some things in life, but nursing is one thing that I have absolution.”

“…just a lot of good people in healthcare I’ve come across. I’ve met nurses in the process who really influenced me to become a nurse, too. Just being able to change someone’s life in even the most little way just by having a conversation with them or doing them one little gesture. Something different that changes their entire day… even making them laugh.”

She goes on to explain the power and ubiquity of nursing, “Everyone thinks healthcare is this really complicated thing, but it’s really not. It really starts with compassionate and looking out for people.”

Is that the key piece for you to being a good nurse? Compassion?

“I think that’s a necessary factor — you need that initial caring and compassion. School comes with studying, and you can learn to be a nurse. In fact, in WWII, there were women that were housewives that were being trained as nurses because of the shortage in healthcare. That’s the case right now. There are women who are getting second careers. There are men getting second careers… realizing after years and years that this is their calling. It’s really awesome to think about it. Everyone can be nurses. A mom can be a nurse. Anytime you extend compassion and caring to someone else, you’re basically nursing them.”

I really enjoyed how she could vocalize her feelings about nursing.

What’s a Life Lesson you would like to share?

“I think if people took one moment out of their day to just put someone else before themselves, I think the world would be a better place in general.”

A lot of people could be self-servicing, but there’s a lot people can do for one another by being compassionate and empathetic.

If you could correct ONE wrong in the world, what would it be? (Thanks to Michelle, Stranger 16)

“… probably the lack of empathy. You just see it all the time in everybody… not having consideration or kindness for your fellow human-beings.”

Not surprised that her answer to Michelle’s question was grounded in her Life Lesson.

What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“What is everyone’s fascination with pumpkin-spiced lattes and pumpkin beers?” She’s cracking up about this, but this question came out of her mouth so fast that it’s clearly been on her mind. I’m laughing hard at this and wondering if tomorrow’s Stranger will have an answer.

After the handshake.

I’m so appreciative of Jennifer sharing part of her story. She was in a rush, but still made time to share her story… and in many ways, helping me out as I was on the verge of striking out today. With all the hard work she puts in, she maintains a great spirit. I also felt pulled into nursing with how she described why nursing for her and how we could all be nurses in some way.

Another great thing: Jennifer comes to Starbucks often, so I’ll see her soon.

Meet Jennifer. No longer a Stranger.

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