Tarah S., BSN, RN - Adult Surgical Stepdown (9 North)

NRMy career path at VUMC thus far has been incredibly unexpected, full of countless new emotions, obstacles, and challenges, but most of all incredibly rewarding. As a nursing student, I thought I had my entire career mapped out; spend my first 2 years in an emergency room, the following two years on an intensive care unit, and eventually transfer to train as a flight nurse, leaving me very disappointed when I was offered a job on a surgical stepdown floor. 

My desire to work at Vanderbilt outweighed my disappointment, and during my interview, I was assured that I would be able to transfer to an intensive care unit after obtaining a year of experience. What I didn’t realize at the time is that spending that year on a surgical stepdown unit would be a defining moment in my career. I am so grateful for the career opportunities I have been exposed to. Although reluctant at first due to lack of confidence, I took on the role of a preceptor only six months after completing my orientation and fell in love with the teaching aspect of nursing. 

Not only was I able to teach my patients about their disease processes and procedures, but I was also now teaching a new nurse resident, helping them built a foundation for their new career. Teaching a new nurse as a new nurse was an incredibly humbling experience. I was able to relate to the fear and anxiety they expressed and provide coping mechanisms and strategies that had helped me just a few months prior. Although I was originally fearful of the situation, it reminded me of just how far I had come in just a few short months that I had been practicing on my own, and the impact I am able to have on new nurses. 

After completing an entire orientation process with a nurse resident, I was inspired to continue precepting, as well as become a member of the Residency Oversight Committee, and serve as a mentor. I am also newly considering going back to school for my master's degree in teaching with an interest in teaching nursing students in classrooms and in the clinical setting, straying vastly from my original career plan. 

I am proud to be a Vanderbilt nurse because they see potential in you that you don’t always see in yourself. They strive to instill confidence and resilience and celebrate every milestone along your journey. 2020 was an especially hard year to work in healthcare, much less start your career as a nurse, but Vanderbilt has taken extraordinary measures to keep us connected, informed, and motivated, and for that, I am truly grateful.