Nurses Week 2020: Mary Louise Enright, M.S. class of 2021
In celebration of Nurses Week 2020, VCU School of Nursing is sharing each day why students love being a part of the most trusted profession on earth. Mary Louise Enright (B.S.’16/N) is a registered nurse in the inpatient acute pediatrics unit at the VCU Children’s Hospital and a current student in our master’s program, family nurse practitioner concentration.
Q. What do you enjoy most about being a nurse?
A. I really enjoy being able to develop relationships with my patients and their families. On my unit, we care for a lot of oncology patients, and you generally get to know these patients and their families very well due to frequent/regular and sometimes lengthy inpatient stays. I enjoy being able to be a friend to these patients in addition to being a provider of care. I always aim to bring comfort to my patients to augment the prescribed medications and treatment plan; and when appropriate, I try to use my sense of humor and silly personality to lighten the mood, garner a sense of trust, and reduce the stressors associated with hospitalization. I feel that approaching patient care in this way humanizes nurse-patient interactions, thus allowing for a better patient experience. I truly value these relationships, and they make even the most difficult days at work worth it.
Q. How has your VCU School of Nursing education prepared you for your work as a nurse, particularly in situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic?
A. I am actually back at the VCU School of Nursing in the Family Nurse Practitioner Master’s program, class of 2021, so my education continues! From both my undergrad and graduate experiences, I learned/continue to learn about the importance of flexibility in one’s role as a nurse. You cannot always predict what will change in a patient’s condition, so it is crucial to be ready to work with the interdisciplinary team to adjust a patient’s plan of care at any given moment. The need for flexibility has particularly been pertinent in light of the COVID-19 pandemic for nursing, and medicine, globally. Where I work, adjustments to patient care and hospital-wide protocols have been made, and sometimes change on a weekly, if not daily, basis. I would never have thought that shortages in PPE would be a reality on such a vast, global level, and this has been a very eye-opening experience as an inpatient RN. Watching this pandemic unfold throughout the world and the challenges it has brought with it has augmented my already overwhelming sense of pride and admiration for nurses and all the individuals that are involved in patient care, and I am grateful to work in a field of which I feel so much pride.
Q. Can you share any words of encouragement or advice to current and future nurses?
A. I would encourage future nurses to be patient with themselves as they transition from student to RN. There is a steep learning curve beyond what you learn in textbooks and through clinical experiences during nursing school, and it is easy to be hard on yourself, especially as a new graduate RN. I continue to learn so much at the bedside as an RN with a little over 3 years of experience, and know this breadth of knowledge will continue to grow as I move forward in my career. For current nurses, I would encourage them to take advantage of all the opportunities provided to them, whether that be continuing education, challenging the clinical ladder, joining a unit or hospital committee and/or becoming a resource or expert in a particular subject or treatment approach relative to their nursing unit. There exist so many opportunities in the world of nursing, and countless ways to continue personal growth as a nurse – the world is your oyster!!