This article was updated on June 1, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. to correct the following error: “preceptorship in the operating room” was changed to “preceptorship on a trauma and surgery floor that tends to postoperative patients.”
A love for science and assisting people led senior Lauren Isham to the career she is pursuing. As a second year student in SPU’s two-year nursing program, she is nearing the end of her student career after recently finishing her required preceptorship on a trauma and surgery floor that tends to postoperative patients at Harborview Medical Center.
The two-year journey as a nursing student with a minor in global and urban ministries has been a learning experience for Isham. Her passion for nursing is founded in her love for helping people, educating others about health, and building relationships with patients.
With a heart for science and mission work, Isham believes nursing is a career that will allow her to serve others and serve God.
“I’ve always felt the call to mission work … when … I was a freshman in high school … I thought about how much I love science and just the ability that you can travel with nursing, and that you can help people…and that nurses are needed no matter where you go,” Isham said.
While a chapter of her nursing journey is coming to an end, a new chapter in the workplace is approaching where she hopes to work in a hospital operating room. She later wants to move to Central or South America for three to five years to work with a healthcare organization before eventually returning to the United States to become a nurse case manager.
During her sophomore year at Seattle Pacific, the nursing program application process began and Isham remembers being asked why she wanted to be a nurse and if it was something she felt called to do.
“That was definitely something that resonated with me because SPU is different in the way that they do nursing because the focus is on character more than just skills and knowledge, so they want to develop nurses that really care about their patients, [and] really are dedicated to the broader mission of nursing,” Isham said.
It was during sophomore year that Isham opened her nursing program acceptance letter; the letter that began her experiences in nursing classes, clinical days, studying and spending time in the skills lab in Marston, where nursing students are able to practice what they learn in class.
The nursing program is difficult, Isham explained; it’s more than studying and memorizing information.
“It’s a beautifully rewarding but difficult experience…our classes are close to three hours long each class, which can be really tiring, the clinical days can be really long, but it’s always a learning experience,” Isham said. “It’s more than just memorizing medications, but it’s learning how to interact with patients and their families.
While the nursing field entails using vital skills, it’s also about serving those in need and helping foster relationships, Isham explained.
“These professionals do a lot more than just … serve people,” Isham said. “They do more than provide a service, they provide lifesaving services. So that for me was really important, and so I want to be that person that helps take care of someone’s baby … [or] someone’s sibling … [so] that they have the opportunity to enjoy that relationship with them for many years to come.”
In addition, Isham believes that relationships with patients promotes healing.
“I think that where healing happens the most is through relationships,” Isham said. “Medicine can cure your infection, and bandages cover your wounds, but it’s in that personal connection and relationship that nurses have with patients that patients can cope with being in a vulnerable place.”
Isham also finds importance in informing individuals on how to maintain a healthy life; it’s not only about helping people be healthy, but teaching them how to stay healthy and prevent illnesses.
“I feel like when I see people who are hurting, I want to do something about it, and when I see people confused about their health, I want to teach them,” Isham said. “And when I see people who don’t know how to take care of themselves, I want to be there to help them … the biggest thing that we talk about in nursing is that you’re not necessarily just helping them but you’re coming alongside people in a journey that’s difficult and scary and hard.”
While on a Seattle Pacific Reachout International trip to the city of Barahona in the Dominican Republic, Isham was able to work with the organization Children of the Nations and serve as an educator for adults and children by informing them on hygiene, illnesses, prevention and how to be healthy.
“While we were there we got to do some health history information for the kids that are in…[Children of the Nations] school programs so that way the clinic has information about the kids that might come in and see the nurses for appointments,” Isham said. “We also got to do some health education so we would prepare…talks to have with the women of the village because they’re usually in charge of…the kids…so we would have talks with the moms about fungal infections, and clean water, and how do to proper hygiene … [and] communicable diseases that are easily preventable if you know how to take care of them.”
For Isham, the educational aspect of nursing is an element she believes is important and is passionate about.
After almost two years in the nursing program, one of the most meaningful times was on the last day of her preceptorship at Harborview Medical Center.
After 11 shifts of practicing time management, prioritization, how to do wound care and how to interact with healthcare providers and patients, her preceptor told her that she’s going to be a great nurse.
“That alone is just such a huge compliment from someone who you’ve been working with, and I think in a lot of ways nursing school is hard because you’re trying to do a job that you don’t quite feel equipped for, yet you have to be confident to do well … so just having that affirmation saying ‘you’re going to be a great nurse’ is a huge confirmation that I’m not in the wrong place,” Isham said.
With graduation approaching, Isham is applying for nursing jobs and will soon take the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse.
It’s her heart for helping others and serving God that has led her to the career she’s been pursuing at SPU.
“There’s just so many hurting people and that’s not what God has intended for people,” Isham said. “God wants us to thrive and be healthy, and if I can help people do that then that’s really doing the work of God.”